"Music and love explain everything" — Ugis Praulinš
The Baltic republics – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania each have a very rich tradition of folk and choral music. It seems that every important occasion be it private or public is accompanied by singing. Their history of occupation accounts for the centrality of singing in the Baltic nations' musical, social, and ritual life. They were under occupation for most of their history and in response a huge repertory of folk songs developed, during the latter half of the nineteenth century during what historians now call the "First National Reawakening" mass song festivals which persist to this day were established in all three countries and these reinforced the identities and nationalist consciousness of the three lands. During the 1980s (the "Singing Revolution") these festivals played the same role as they had in the nineteenth century strenghtening the sense of national and cultural identity and strenghtening political and cultural resistance to the Soviets.
The importance of singing in general and choral music in particular coupled with a very much alive folk tradition has led composers in each country to include folk and early music amongst a rich and often unconventional list of sources of inspiration. This breadth of sources of inspiration can certainly be heard in the music of Ugis Praulinš the composer of the Missa Rigensis (Riga Mass).
As a child the Latvian composer Ugis Praulinš who was born in 1957 sang as a member of the Riga Dom Boys’ Choir (Riga Cathedral Boys’ Choir, under the Communists it was known as the "Choir of the Emils Darzinš Music School"). After school he attended the Music Academy in Riga where he leavened his formal studies in composition by playing in rock bands during the 1970s and 1980s. His subsequent career has included a period at Latvian Radio where did pioneering work as a sound engineer with folk music, composing soundtracks for film and television, "crossover" music, a full-lenght ballet, and concert music. This broad range of experience of influences led him to write a strikingly diverse and resourceful score for the Missa Rigensis.
Praulinš's intention when he wrote the Missa Rigensis was to write a Mass 'without overwhelming force or volume', that was suitable both to concert and liturgical performance, and most importantly of all was true to the spirit of the great Renaissance Masses. In my opinion he's succeeded, his setting of the text is both respectful and imaginative and lends an immediacy and freshness to the music. His declamatory Kyrie is both timeless and modern and ends with a powerfully affecting sotto voce keening. The Gloria has a syncopated build-up that owes quite as much to the rock music of Praulinš's youth as it does to renaissance polyphon while the antiphonal shifts between ethereal solo and chorus leading upto full strenght declamation in the Domine Deus is some of the most affecting and effective modern music I have ever heard. The joyful Quoniam tu solus ends with melismatic Amens. The Credo is astonishing it opens with powerfully rythmical statement of belief progressing through baroque era inspired roulades, chant-like canons, sighs of anguish at passus est, while the ostinato of the Crucifixus represents the driving in of the nails to great effect. It ends with a carillion supported by voices fervently whispering the final lines. The sense of an awed hush at the start of the all-too-brief Sanctus starts and the jubilant Hosannas that characterise it the piece are to my mind very effective. The Agnus Dei is resolved only by Actus caritatis bringing the Mass to a strangely numinous if beautiful end.
I've set up the playlist for Praulinš's Missa Rigensis below so that you can listen to it either as a playlist or as individual tracks together with the relevant texts. Enjoy :-).
|Complete Playlist – click the player opposite to listen to the Mass as a complete playlist.||
|Click the players in the right-hand column below to listen to the individual movements.|
|Movement 1: Kyrie eleison
|Movement 2a: Gloria
Gloria in excelsis Deo
Laudamus te. Benedicimus te.
Adoramus te. Glorificamus te.
Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.
Domine Deus, rex caelestis …
|Movement 2b: Domine Deus
Domine Deus, rex caelestis,
Domine Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe,
Domine Deus, agnus Dei, Filius Patris,
qui tollis peccata mundi,
suscipe deprecationem nostram;
qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
|Movement 2c: Quoniam tu solus sanctus
Quoniam tu solus sanctus. Tu solus Dominus.
Cum Sancto Spiritu, in gloria Dei Patris.
|Movement 3a: Credo in unum Deum
Credo in unum Deum,
factorem caeli et terrae,
visibilium omnium, et invisibilium.
Credo in unum Dominum Jesum Christum,
Filium Dei unigenitum,
et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula.
| Movement 3b: Deum de Deo
Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine,
genitum, non factum, consubstantialem Patri,
per quem omnia facta sunt.
Qui propter nos homines, et propter nostram
salutem descendit de caelis, et incarnatus est
de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria virgine,
et homo factus est.
| Movement 3c: Crucifixus
Crucifixus etiam pro nobis:
Et resurrexit tertia die,
Et ascendit in caelum:
sedet ad dexteram Patris.
Et iterum venturus est cum gloria,
iudicare vivos et mortuos:
cuius regni non erit finis.
|Movement 3d: Credo in Spiritum Sanctum
Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum
qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur
et conglorificatur: qui locutus est per prophetas.
Credo in unam sanctam catholicam
et apostolicam ecclesiam.
Confiteor unum baptisma
in remissionem peccatorum.
Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum,
et vitam venturi saeculi.
|Movement 4: Sanctus
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis.
|Movement 5: Agnus Dei
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
dona nobis pacem.
Movement 5: Actus caritatis
Domine Deus, amo te super omnia
quia tu es summum, infinitum, et perfectissimum bonum,
omni dilectione dignum.
In hac caritate vivere et mori statuo. Amen.