The Mass ‘Cum jubilo’ suggests more forcefully than does the Requiem the distaste Duruflé felt for ‘excessive’ settings of the text such as had been favoured during the preceding decades. Here only the lower voices from the choir are used and these voices present the text in unison. There are just two short solo sections: in the Gloria
at the words ‘Domine fili …’ and in the Benedictus
. The comparable work by Fauré is the Messe Basse
but even this allows the choir (of two equal-pitch parts for high voices) to sing harmony. Duruflé’s use of plainsong themes is at once apparent but again these are used with a subtlety which belies their underlying simplicity. The organ part contributes to this effect. The flourish which announces the Gloria
marks the key moment for the glory of God to be celebrated in the Mass while, by contrast, the accompaniment to the closing movements—the Sanctus
and Agnus Dei
, which complement the act of communion itself—suggests an atmosphere of ethereal journeying and a more detached wonder at the divine presence. This is music for the Catholic Mass at its most practical level, but also at its most beautiful.
from notes by Wadham Sutton © 1989