was manifested in the fifteen masses of Gounod, which reveal a multiplicity of styles, endorsing the purity of Palestrina at one end of the spectrum (such as the Messe dite de Clovis of 1895) and the unabashedly emotional and richly operatic at the other (the Messe solonelle de Sainte Cecile of 1855). As Alfred Einstein said of the latter: 'This Mass tends towards Catholicism, but it is not itself Catholic. Despite one or another grandiose and orchestrally unified movement like the Credo, it is poetical, subjective, lyric. It is Romanticized church music.'6 A similar tendency is exhibited in the sacred works of Cesar Franck, Guilmant, Pierne, Widor and the gargantuan Messe solonelle of Vierne for choir and two organs written for Saint-Sulpice.

After the decline of Lutheran church music at the end of the eighteenth century, a revival inspired by Frederick William IV of Prussia's unification of the liturgy gave momentum to the churches and cathedrals in Berlin, and provided a creative impetus for composers such as Mendelssohn and musicologists such as J. A. Spitta and R. von Liliencron. As president of the editorial commission of the Denkmaler deutscher Tonkunst, Liliencron did much to contribute to the revival of early German masters (notably Senfl, Prae-torius, Sch├╝tz and Bach), but, unlike the southern German churches, where early music was fulsomely embraced as a liturgical vehicle, the scholarly products of the north Germans were restricted to the more structured liturgies of cathedrals or to the concert halls. Such limitations did not, however, prevent some Palestrina advocates of the 'revival', such as A. E. Grell, from taking a thoroughly dogmatic and didactic position condemning instrumental music as an anathema to church, school and domestic music-making. Mendelssohn's eclectic background, which assimilated Bach and Handel as well as the Classicists, was also open to a Romantic interpretation of Renaissance polyphony and the Gabrielis, a fact evident in his setting of 'Ehre sei Gott in der Hohe', 'Heilig, heilig ist Gott', the brief but sublime 'Kyrie' and the Sechs Spruche Op. 79 written after he was appointed director of Berliner Domchor in 1843. The two psalms Opp. 78 and 91 are altogether more Romantic in deportment, as are the outer sections of the Ave Maria' Op. 23 No. 2, though the central section of the latter reveals Mendelssohn's devotion to Bach, one of course reflected in his all-important revival of Bach's St Matthew Passion at the Singakademie in 1829. The amalgam of Mendelssohn's Protestant sacred style was later promoted by Grell's pupil, Arnold Mendelssohn, by two Catholics, Herzogenberg and Reger, Kiel and, most substantial ofall, Brahms,

6 Einstein, Romantic music, p. 166.

0 0

Post a comment