For this the final Mass in my series dealing with Gregorio Allegri’s Masses I deal with his ‘Missa Christus resurgens’ but before discussing the Mass itself I want to briefly put it in into its context of the Counter-Reformation.
There’s an idea about the Counter-Reformation that it was purely reactive but that is to traduce what was in fact a confident and assertive movement from within typified by the emergence of such dynamic organisations as the Jesuits and the Oratorians, the rapid spread of confraternities both in Rome and throughout Europe, and, in Spain, the emergence of such figures as St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of The Cross. Allegri’s music needs to be seen in the context of this heady and exciting time of religious, social, and artistic ferment. Yes, you can say that he was writing in the shadow of Palestina but that wasn’t how he was seen at the time by his fellow musicians who considered him to be Palestrina’s worthy successor and an important composer in his own right. His music was part of the dynamism and religious radicalism that was the Counter-Reformation a movement that was broad and deep enough to accomodate both Gregorio Allegri and Claudio Monteverdi.
The Mass itself is eight-part Mass and is very clearly a Counter-Reformation piece with its concise and decaratory nature and emphasis on textual clarity and intelligibility. Allegri based it on his Easter motet ‘Christus resurgens ex mortuis’ which accounts for its being so antiphonal particularly in the Gloria. I like how in the full sections Allegri makes use of ascending scales (you can hear this particularly clearly at the word ‘resurgens’). It’s also a very richly textured piece – particularly when all eight voices come into play. Allegri also makes use of triple time for example towards the end of the Gloria and at ‘Et resurrexit’ and ‘Et in spiritum’ in the Credo and the final Hosanna in the Sanctus. It ends with a magnificently spacious Agnus Dei that makes very effective use of dissonance. Enjoy :-).
Video Source: Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652): Missa Christus resurgens – YouTube Published on Nov 6, 2013 by markfromireland