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This first movement, a marvelous example of a sonata form constructed from a single theme, begins with what would appear to be the “bare bones” of a melody. This curious little theme, however, falling through the tonic triad and with its downward leaps of a seventh, possesses a beguiling humor and as the greatest composers have always shown: much can come from little. Fulfilling the requirements of sonata form, the theme recurs again, somewhat modified and in the key of the dominant, as the movement’s second theme. Throughout the first movement, the melody is subjected to a range of treatments—at times, itself being embellished by ornaments, at others, being accompanied by sweeping scales or countermelodies. A most interesting transformation of the melody comes near the end of the recapitulation where it is presented as a smooth legato line with its leaping sevenths transformed into harmonious 7-6 suspensions. Also, significant use of counterpoint is present, not only in the first movement, but throughout much of the piece and at times the texture almost gives one the impression of a Baroque keyboard piece.

Switching to an Adagio tempo and the key of the subdominant, the second movement is technically and emotionally challenging. The style of the movement is quite intricate and amply shows the intellectual prowess of its composer. Set in ternary form, the lyrical opening F major melody is contrasted by a middle section beginning with graceful descending C major scales. An embellished and somewhat altered return of the opening F major section rounds out the movement.

The finale, back in the tonic key of C major, is sheer mischievous humor. Its principal melody seems harmless enough until it abruptly, and one might even say rudely, ends with its leading note harmonized, not by the dominant chord, but by a first inversion on D sharp! Like the first movement, the entire movement is built from a single theme, though in this instance, the degree of variation is much less broad. If the first two movements of the sonata where an exercise in skill, then the finale can be nothing else than an exercise in wit.

Elgar’s famous, serene, and stately melody
Is given a vocal adaptation with this
Lux aeterna requiem.

Lux aeterna luceat eis Domine cum sanctis tuis
In aeternum:
Quia pius es.
Requiem aeternam dona eis,
Domine; et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Cum sanctis tuis in aeternum quia pius es.

Something good came out of all this religious horsepucky. :)

The Mass in B minor (BWV 232) by Johann Sebastian Bach is a musical setting of the complete Ordinary of the Latin Mass. The work was one of Bach’s last compositions, not completed until 1749, the year before his death. Much of the Mass gave new form to vocal music that Bach had composed throughout his career, dating back (in the case of the “Crucifixus”) to 1714, but extensively revised. To complete the work, in the late 1740s Bach composed new sections of the Credo such as “Et incarnatus est”.

It was unusual for composers working in the Lutheran tradition to compose a Missa tota and Bach’s motivations remain a matter of scholarly debate. The Mass was never performed in its entirety during Bach’s lifetime; the first documented complete performance took place in 1859. Since the nineteenth century it has been widely hailed as one of the greatest compositions in musical history, and today it is frequently performed and recorded.[1][2][3][4] Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach archived this work as the Great Catholic Mass.

The Mass in B minor is widely regarded as one of the supreme achievements of classical music. Alberto Basso summarizes the work as follows:

The Mass in B minor is the consecration of a whole life: started in 1733 for “diplomatic” reasons, it was finished in the very last years of Bach’s life, when he had already gone blind. This monumental work is a synthesis of every stylistic and technical contribution the Cantor of Leipzig made to music. But it is also the most astounding spiritual encounter between the worlds of Catholic glorification and the Lutheran cult of the cross.[41]

Scholars have suggested that the Mass in B minor belongs in the same category as The Art of Fugue, as a summation of Bach’s deep lifelong involvement with musical tradition—in this case, with choral settings and theology. Bach scholar Christoph Wolff describes the work as representing “a summary of his writing for voice, not only in its variety of styles, compositional devices, and range of sonorities, but also in its high level of technical polish … Bach’s mighty setting preserved the musical and artistic creed of its creator for posterity.”[42]

The Mass was described in the 19th century by the editor Hans Georg Nägeli as “The Announcement of the Greatest Musical Work of All Times and All People” (“Ankündigung des größten musikalischen Kunstwerkes aller Zeiten und Völker”).[43] Even though it had never been performed, its importance was appreciated by some of Bach’s greatest successors: by the beginning of the 19th century Forkel and Haydn possessed copies.[44]

The Vivaldi Experience continues here at DWR.  Please note the precision necessary to maintain the chord structure during the fugal sections.  Soooo good.

 

Fugal brilliance on display.  Take your time and love the texture of this piece.

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