José Maurício Nunes Garcia, Father Maurício, was a mixed-race priest who was born in Rio. His Missa pastoril para a noite de natal
was originally written simply for choir and organ in 1808. In 1811 he rewrote the piece, now colourfully orchestrated for two violas, two cellos, two clarinets, two bassoons, two trumpets, two horns, timpani and organ. There are nine challenging solo parts, for three castrati, two falsettists, tenor and three basses. Individual names are written against each solo part in the full score. The hauntingly simple pastoral theme which opens the piece recurs throughout the work, and captures perfectly the sensation of a sunshine-filled Christmas and the gentle message of Christ’s birth. Our performing edition is by António Campos and published by Musica Brasilis. Rosana Lanzelotte, a Brazilian flautist based in Rio, put me into contact with this wonderful resource. In nearby downtown I was shown the spectacularly gilded church Nossa Senhora do Monte Carmo, the old cathedral which served as the Royal Chapel where this work was no doubt performed on Christmas Day over two hundred years ago.
from notes by Jeffrey Skidmore © 2015