Movement 1: Kyrie
Movement 2: Gloria
Movement 3: Sanctus & Benedictus
Movement 4: Agnus Dei
The Gloria gives the impression of being more strongly rooted in early liturgical form with many lines of the text chanted in a manner akin to plainsong. A more fluid harmonic approach is taken for ‘Benedicimus te’, which is mirrored later in the section for ‘Qui sedes ad dexteram’. At the centre of the movement the magnitude of God is unveiled with powerful towering chords for ‘Domine Deus, Rex caelestis’, which then subside, leaving the descant choir ascending for the phrase ‘Qui tollis peccata mundi’. The conclusion of this movement, with its dancing triple-time rhythms and toccata-style organ writing, conjures up all the liturgical drama of the end of Mass. Hansson’s characteristic chords built on perfect fourths here resonate like a peal of bells.
The Sanctus begins as a reverential chant building up through all the voices until it is transformed into a great song of praise in C major, the 6/8 rhythm adding vigour. Against this compound-time backdrop, Hansson introduces a contrasting 3/4 lyrical melody for ‘Pleni sunt caeli’. The ‘Hosanna’ section, like the beginning, builds up from bass to soprano, each voice chanting in different layers. The Benedictus rises seamlessly from the end of this outburst using again the 3/4 melody heard earlier. Here it becomes a five-part canon between all the female voices leading to a more subdued chant of ‘Hosanna in excelsis’ to conclude.
The Agnus Dei takes a more atonal approach, weaving a tapestry combining colourful harmonies with more angular melodic writing. Hansson returns to C minor and material from the Kyrie for the end of the Mass, the ‘miserere’ being broken up and slowly recited by all voices until settling onto a final ‘nobis’ almost like a final gasp. For the final ‘Dona nobis pacem’ section a sense of calm is established with more ethereal writing for the upper voices.
from notes by Rupert Gough © 2012