Short Mass

composer
1965
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

 
At Wishart’s suggestion, Burgon composed his first choral piece in 1964. Three Elegies was taken up by the BBC Chorus. This short unaccompanied work paved the way for a series of choral compositions bridging a four-decade span. Not long after the premiere of Three Elegies, Burgon’s friend David Gedge asked for a simple Mass setting for use by his choir at Brecon Cathedral. The Short Mass, completed in July 1965, captures something of the unaffected devotional spirit of Britten’s Missa brevis.

Burgon’s syllabic setting of the Latin Mass text, the work’s use of concordant harmonies and its largely homophonic texture were in tune with ideals established for church music during the Second Vatican Council and comparable trends within the Anglican Church during the early 1960s. The brief embellishments and alternating paired voice parts in the Agnus Dei, however, echo a long-distant English choral technique regularly employed in the late fifteenth century. The young composer here balances the demands of changing liturgical practices with the legacy of tradition, a neat achievement for a creative artist who later avowed a deep dislike for organized religion. His writing, especially in the brief yet highly charged Benedictus, manages to sound both timeless and strikingly modern, a condition common to much of Burgon’s substantial output of music for choir.

from notes by Andrew Stewart 2006

Recordings

Burgon: Cathedral Music
CDA66123Archive Service
Burgon: Choral Music
CDH55421Helios (Hyperion's budget label)

Details

Movement 1: Kyrie
Track 3 on CDH55421 [2'09] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Track 7 on CDA66123 [1'36] Archive Service
Movement 2: Gloria
Track 4 on CDH55421 [3'06] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Track 8 on CDA66123 [2'38] Archive Service
Movement 3: Sanctus
Track 5 on CDH55421 [1'25] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Track 9 on CDA66123 [1'25] Archive Service
Movement 4: Benedictus
Track 6 on CDH55421 [1'32] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Track 10 on CDA66123 [1'22] Archive Service
Movement 5: Agnus Dei
Track 7 on CDH55421 [2'37] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Track 11 on CDA66123 [2'26] Archive Service

Track-specific metadata for CDA66123 track 11

Agnus Dei
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-85-12311
Duration
2'26
Recording date
25 January 1984
Recording venue
Chichester Cathedral, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Burgon: Cathedral Music (CDA66123)
    Disc 1 Track 11
    Release date: April 1987
    Archive Service