Palestrina’s Mass setting Missa Assumpta Es Maria is a paraphrase setting of the Mass based upon his six-part (SSATTB) Marian Antiphon Assumpta Es Maria that takes its text from the Offertory at Mass for the Assumption of the Virgin. Like the motet it’s a six-part setting (SSATTB) and like the motet it’s a late work that was never published during Palestrina’s lifetime 1.
As you might expect for music composed for use during a feast celebrating the Virgin’s Ascension to Heaven it’s a joyful and vital piece of music whose melodic lines can sometimes be downright exuberant while retaining the clarity and balance that are Palestrina’s hallmarks. You can hear the motet throughout the work as well as a delicate figure of five ascending notes which he uses throughout the Mass both as punctuation and to provide a joyful decorative effect. Along with his Missa Papae Marcelli it’s particularly popular in our time and there are several good performances of available. I think its popularity is due to the way in which Palestrina manages to achieve a light and delicate texture which he combines to great effect with very elaborate six-part contrapuntal writing. It’s very forward looking and if you didn’t know it was by Palestrina you might well suspect that it was an early baroque work rather than a renaissance one. Enjoy :-)
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Missa Assumpta Es Maria
- Pro Cantione Antiqua conducted by Bruno Turner
- I wrote about the antiphon here: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Assumpta est Maria | Saturday Chorale – mfi. ↩