Monteverdi’s Missa in illo tempore was first published alongside the celebrated 1610 Vespers. In its style, the Vespers is very much of the moment, whereas the Missa in illo tempore looks back to the great parody masses of the sixteenth century. Like the Vespers, the Missa in illo tempore is also conceived on a grand scale, and enthralls with its glorious tracts of sound.
Henry Purcell’s anthems offer a very different experience: small in scale but potent in their musical gestures. Olivier Messiaen’s Cinq Rechants, loosely based on the Tristan and Isolde legend, is a garden of sensuous and virtuosic writing for 12 soloists. Virtuosity is also a prominent feature of Bach’s Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied—a work which is no less than a dazzling three-movement concerto for double chorus and one of Bach’s most exalted pieces of choral writing.
Claudio Monteverdi (1567—1643): Missa in illo tempore
Henry Purcell (1659—1695): Three anthems: Lord, how long wilt though be angry?/Remember not, Lord, our offences/I was glad
Olivier Messiaen (1908—1992): Cinq Rechants
J.S. Bach (1685—1750): Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied BWV 22