Musical Form – Baroque Era: Baroque Mass

♭8428f75b-7f75e5eb51943043279413a54aaa858a.r38.cf3.rackcdn.com/local_14_temp-1389768725-52d63015-620x348.jpg" width="620" height="348" /> St. Johns Co-Cathedral, located in Valletta, Malta

The early Baroque era initiated stylistic changes which led to increasing dispartity between masses written entirely in the traditional polyphonic manner (stile antico), whose principal advancements were the use of the basso continuo and the gradual adoption of a wider harmonic vocabulary, and the mass in modern style with solo voices and instrumental obbligatos. Composers such as Henri Dumont (1610–1684) continued to compose plainsong settings, distinct from and more elaborate than the earlier Gregorian chants.

A further disparity arose between the festive missa solemnis and the missa brevis, a more compact setting. Composers like Fux in the 18th century continued to cultivate the stile antico mass, which was suitable for use on weekdays and at times when orchestral masses were not practical or appropriate, and in 19th-century Germany the Cecilian movement kept the tradition alive. The Italian style cultivated orchestral masses including soloists, chorus and obbligato instruments, spread to the German-speaking Catholic countries north of the Alps, and used instruments for color and created dialogues between solo voices and chorus that was to become characteristic of the 18th-century Viennese style. The so-called “Neapolitan” or “cantata” mass style also had much influence on 18th-century mass composition with its short sections set as self-contained solo arias and choruses in a variety of styles.

The 18th-century Viennese mass combines operatic elements from the cantata mass with a trend in the symphony and concerto to organize choral movements. The large scale masses of the first half of the century still have Glorias and Credos divided into many movements, unlike smaller masses for ordinary churches. Many of Mozart’s masses are in missa brevis form, as are some of Haydn’s early ones. Later masses, especially of Haydn, are of symphonic structure, with long sections divided into fewer movements, organized like a symphony, with soloists used as an ensemble rather than as individuals. The distinction between concert masses and those intended for liturgical use also came into play as the 19th century progressed.

Johann Sebastian Bach – Mass in B minor, BWV 232





0:00:07 – Kyrie eleison 0:10:33 – Christe eleison 0:15:20 – Kyrie eleison 0:19:06 – Gloria in excelsis Deo 0:25:35 – Laudamus te 0:29:40 – Gratias agimus tibi



Joélle Harvey, soprano
Carolyn Sampson, soprano
Iestyn Davies, counter-tenor
Ed Lyon, tenor
Matthew Rose, bass

Choir of the English Concert
The English Concert
Harry Bicket, conductor

Royal Albert Hall
2 August 2012

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