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Missa brevis

author of text

The aptness and attractiveness of this, Bennett’s only piece of liturgical music, leads one to wonder why he was not prevailed upon to write more of it. In its concision, motivic integration, and in the rhythmic energy of its Gloria, his Missa brevis owes something to Britten’s, yet if there is a precedent for his fresh, pristine invention, it lies more with the church music of Poulenc and his French contemporaries. Canterbury, after all, is closer to France than it is to London. Like Poulenc, Bennett was capable of abrupt mood changes, most notably in the Sanctus movement which, at the Hosanna, unexpectedly launches into a cheeky, rather secular two-four tune which the boy choristers might well whistle, after a solemn opening section which swings slowly back and forth in nine-eight rhythm like a priest’s censer. Yet, when the text calls for it, the music breathes an air of intense devotion, as in the fine Agnus Dei where the choir splits into two antiphonal halves to telling effect.

from notes by Collegium Records © 2005


Bennett (RR): Sea change & other choral works
CSCD521Download only


Movement 1: Kyrie
Track 8 on CSCD521 [2'44] Download only
Movement 2: Gloria
Track 9 on CSCD521 [3'24] Download only
Movement 3: Sanctus
Track 10 on CSCD521 [4'48] Download only
Movement 4: Agnus Dei
Track 11 on CSCD521 [4'26] Download only

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