Like the Missa Usquequo Domine
, Schoendorff’s Missa super La dolce vista
belongs to the tradition of parody Masses, which borrow the themes of a sacred or secular work by a known or anonymous composer in order to exploit and vary their melodic material over the customary five sections of the Ordinary of the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus–Benedictus, Agnus Dei). This tradition dating from the late Middle Ages enjoyed increasing success during the Renaissance—a success which the Council of Trent attempted to curb, not least because the borrowed material was often popular, frivolous or even erotic in character. Musicians saw in the practice a way to pay tribute to (or shrewdly benefit from the reputation of) an admired colleague or a revered master, as is the case with the two Masses recorded here. The manuscript containing this Mass is preserved in Nuremberg and dates from 1594.
Schoendorff’s Mass, considerably shorter than that of his master of the chapel, retains the same structure and the six voices of the madrigal, along with their division into answering groups of two, three or four voices. This brief, syllabic Mass, conjuring up memories of a madrigal probably enjoyed by an emperor partial to the pleasures of love, in the end complies with both the prescriptions of the Council of Trent and the requirements of a sovereign with little taste for long religious services.
from notes by Bénédicte Even-Lassmann © 2011
English: Charles Johnston