Messe pour double choeur a cappella
Mass for double choir a cappella

Year of composition

1922/1926

Duration

26'

Scored for

2 mixed choirs (2 SATB); see also Agnus Dei (for organ).

Publication information

Bärenreiter (BA07594)

Text(s)

I. Kyrie
II. Gloria
III. Credo
IV. Sanctus
V. Agnus Dei (1926)

Commentary

This mass, composed in 1922 (except for the Agnus Dei which dates from 1926), was a work of my own free will, without commission or remuneration. Indeed at that time I knew of no choral conductor who could be interested in it. I never submitted it to the Society of Swiss Musicians for performance at one of their annual events. In fact I had no desire to have it performed as I was afraid it would be judged on a purely aesthetic level. As far as I was concerned it was a matter between God and myself. The same was true later on for a Christmas oratorio. I felt that religious fervour should remain private and not be influenced by public opinion. So much so that this composition remained in a drawer for forty years, included as a formality in my list of works. It was there in 1962 that the conductor of the Bugenhagen-Kantorei in Hamburg, Mr. Franz W. Brunnert, saw it mentioned and asked me to send it to him for perusal. He and his choir gave the first performance in the autumn of 1963, 41 years after it was composed.
All the aforementioned shows clearly that, even though I wrote the mass for a large number of voices, it is music of an inward nature. My musical language has developped considerably since that period. There are some things in this work that I would no longer be able to write ; there are also weaknesses that I would never repeat. (I would be guilty of others, who wouldn’t?). But there are also musical elements which are very close to me, such as the phrase «Et incarnatus est» that I had already used in the unpublished Christmas oratorio. It reappears almost identically in my oratorio Golgotha, enhancing the text «Comme il avait aimé les siens dans le monde, il les aima d’un suprême amour».
Let us hope that conviction, youth and some beauty can still be appreciated in this mass that is almost half a century old.

(Frank Martin; translated by Rachel Ann Morgan)

Premiere

World premiere: Hamburg, 2 November 1963. Bugenhagen Kantorei; Franz W. Brunnert, conductor

Video

  1. Nederlands Kamerkoor; Peter Dijkstra, conductor
    Live recording, 29 April 2016, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands (YouTube)

Recordings (selective list)

  • Académie Vocale de Suisse Romande
    Dominique Tille, conductor
    Claves Records ℗ + © 2022

  • RIAS Kammerchor
    Daniel Reuss, conductor
    Harmonia mundi HMC 901834 ℗ 2004 (FMS150)

  • ‘Frank Martin (1890-1974): Choral Works’
    Netherlands Chamber Choir
    (Nederlands Kamerkoor)
    Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor
    Q Disc Q97056 ℗ + © 2002 (FMS031)
    Stichting Donemus Beheer ℗ + © 2013

  • Collegium Vocale Zürich
    Klaus Knall, conductor
    Musikszene Schweiz MGB CD 6177 ℗ + © 2001 (FMS155)

  • Danish National Vocal Ensemble
    Marcus Creed, conductor
    OUR Recordings ℗ + © 2009

  • Pro Musica Chamber Choir
    Jan Yngwe, conductor
    Swedish Society SCD 1118 ℗ 2001 (FMS013)

  • Nederlands Kamerkoor
    Peter Dijkstra, conductor
    © Nederlands Kamerkoor 2016 ℗ Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2017

  • Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
    Peter Dijkstra, conductor
    BRKlassik 403571900500 ℗ + © 2009 (FMS189)

  • Netherlands Chamber Choir
    (Nederlands Kamerkoor)
    John Alldis, conductor
    Sony SK 53294 ℗ 1992 (FMS017)

  • Dale Warland Singers
    Dale Warland, conductor
    American Choral Catalog ACC 120 ℗ + © 1994 (FMS018)

  • Robert Shaw Festival Singers
    Robert Shaw, conductor
    TELARC CD-80406 ℗ + © 1998 (FMS019)

  • Wiener Singakademie
    Herbert Böck, conductor
    Wiener Singakademie ℗ + © 1997 (FMS024)

  • Norddeutscher Figuralchor
    Jörg Straube, conductor
    Thorofon Records CTH 2261 ℗ 1995 (FMS025)

  • Phoenix Bach Choir & Kansas City Chorale
    Charles Bruffy, conductor
    CHANDOS CHSA 5045 ℗ + © 2006 (FMS027)

  • Stockholm Chamber Choir
    Eric Ericson, conductor
    (recorded 24.I.1975, Swedish Radio, Stockholm)
    EMI 5 099926 434421 ℗ 2009 (FMS011)

  • The Sixteen
    Harry Christophers, conductor
    CORO - COR16029 ℗ + © 2005 (FMS029)

  • The Choir of Westminster Cathedral
    James O'Donnell, conductor
    Hyperion CDA67017 ℗ + © 1997 (FMS039)

  • Mikaeli Kammarkör
    Anders Eby, conductor
    Proprius PRCD 9965 ℗ + © 1987 (FMS040)

  • Kölner Kantorei
    Volker Hempfling, conductor
    WDR 20.001.337 ℗ 1990 (FMS042)

  • Vokalensemble Frankfurt
    Ralf Otto, conductor
    Bayer Records BR100 084 ℗ 1991 + © 2005 (FMS043)

  • Stuttgarter Hymnus-Chorknaben
    Gerhard Wilhelm, conductor
    Recording 6-3-1977
    SDR HY 0001 ℗ + © 1996 (FMS044)

  • VASARI
    Jeremy Blackhouse, conductor
    United 88033 CD ℗ + © 1994 (FMS045)

  • Vocal-Consertisten
    Kristian Commichau, conductor
    VC-CD 007 ℗ + © 1997/2000 (FMS058)

  • Ensemble Coeli et Terra/Ensemble Métamorphoses
    Maurice Bourbon, conductor
    Studio SM 2000 D2868 SM 62 ℗ 2000 + © ADAGP, Paris 2000 (FMS063)

  • Vocaal ensemble COQU & Kamerkoor Canteclaer
    Yt Nicolai, conductor
    STEMRA TS 97022 ℗ 1997 (FMS070)

  • Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne
    Michel Corboz, conductor
    Cascavelle VEL 1025 ℗ + ©1992 (FMS071)

  • AKADĚMIA
    Ensemble Vocal Régional de Champagne-Ardenne
    Françoise Lasserre, conductor
    ORCCA ℗ 2016 (FMS082)

  • Kammerkoret HYMNIA
    Flemming Windekilde, conductor
    CLASSICO - CLASS CD 286 ℗ + ©1999 (FMS148)

  • Christ Church Cathedral Choir
    Stephen Darlington, conductor
    NIMBUS NI 881660-909 ℗ + © 1989 (FMS149)

  • Dresdner Kammerchor
    Hans-Christoph Rademann, conductor
    RAUMKLANG RK 9705 ℗ + © 1997 (FMS151)

  • Choir of Westminster Cathedral
    James O'Donnell, conductor
    Hyperion CDA67017 ℗ + © 1997 (FMS152)

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