Johannes Brahms (1833-1897): Missa canonica

Brahms Portrait Young Brahms’ Missa Canonica is a fairly early work – he probably composed it sometime around 1856. Despite the fact that it’s an early work Brahms obviously thought well of it, well enough that he quoted it heavily in his motet Warum ist das Licht gegeben?  And yet it’s almost unknown, so unknown in fact that it remained unpublished and unperformed until 1983. I’ve no idea why. The only reason for it having been neglected so long that I can think of other than prejudice against early works is that because it’s canonical he didn’t set either the Gloria or the Credo as both of those texts are far too long to be easily shaped to the canonical form. The loss of previous generations is our gain the four movements that he did set Kyrie, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei are all marvellously well crafted pieces of music that show Brahms’ compositional élan as well as his skill in handling choral writing. Enjoy :-)


Johannes Brahms (1833-1897): Missa canonica

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Performers: Westminster Cathedral Choir, Martin Baker (conductor)

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