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Short Mass

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


Burgon: Cathedral Music
CDA66123Archive Service
Burgon: Choral Music
CDH55421Archive Service


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

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