27 Nov, 2020

DID-4

It’s Bach’s Mass in B minor (Messe in h-Moll).  I’d heard it a number of times and had always marvelled at it but it was only in June 2017, when I sang it in the Barts Choir in London, that the full impact hit me.  It’s a truly monumental work but it was also the most unexpectedly complex and demanding music that I’d ever been involved in. To learn it and to perform it are treasured memories.  It’s also the last time I sang.  Odd things were happening to the throat even then.

Can’t do better than to quote from the blog entry of 12 May “On a different note …” which is a quick run-through of DP’s warbling over the years.  Read it if you like, but here’s the bit about the Mass:

“The most demanding one in fact was the last one I ever did, Bach’s Mass in B Minor.  I knew it as a listener but I had never expected the huge complexity of it as a singer.  It took us, the Bart’s Choir, almost six months of rehearsals. The choir director had refused for years to let us perform it because it is so difficult.  Many people, including me, tend to think of Bach as complex but essentially metronomic – regular and systematic. The B Minor defies that – the unexpected, illogical, out of sequence irregularities (these are non-musical terms because I don’t know the technical ones) were extremely challenging.  To practice it with serious concentration I once took the score and an iPad recording and headphones on a 7-hour train journey, to the occasional consternation of passengers when I forgot where I was and started singing it out loud.  Anyway, we performed it and we were delighted.  A few days later, confident that I now knew it inside out and would enjoy identifying others’ mistakes, I went to a performance by another choir. They did rather well, regrettably.”

Here is the spirited, super-to-sing, Gloria, and as a special treat also the scoreIt’s one of the easier parts of the Mass so do sing along!

 

2 Comments

  1. A most wonderful piece of music and truly awe inspiring. Perfect for you to lie and listen to under your palm tree! I have sung it a couple of times with the Yorkshire Bach Choir in York , and now hope to sing it again with my present choir at Easter. However, with the ongoing restrictions, rehearsals have come to a halt, so we may have to postpone, which will be sad.

    Reply
  2. A stunning piece. I unfortunately did not inherit my father’s wonderful voice. Both Paul and I could not sing if our life depended on it but in those solitary moments in the shower or in my car I have been known to sing along to choral music which of course in my head I am singing perfectly. My years at Malvern gave me a love of music which transcended my own shortcomings!!

    Reply

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