A Missa Pastoralis or a Missa Pastoralis in honorem Nativitatis Domini to give them their full title is a Christmas Mass they're a Christmas Tradition in Eastern European countries such as Poland, The Czech Republic, and Slovakia in particular although you'll also hear them in Austria and Germany. I think of them as the liturgical equivalent of the Italian Christmas Concerto that often feature the melodies of folk music or traditional carols and as you might expect from a Mass written for Christmas are always lively and cheerful affairs. I always enjoy hearing fresh examples. The Missa Pastoralis by F. X. Brixi that you can hear below is a great example of the genre. It was performed live at St. Wencelas Church, Tišnov, on December 26th of last year by the combined forces of the Královopolský and PEVEKO choirs and the Tišnovský Chamber Orchestra conucted by Vit Marecek. Although today he's largely unknown outside of The Czech Republic and Bohemia in his time Brixi´'s fame was widespread. He was born in died in Prague and after studying at the Gymnasium Kosmonosy under Václav Kalous who taught him both piano and choral theory and practice he took up a position as organist at St. Havel Church. Word of his talent spread and he rose quickly taking on ever more prestigious positions at the churches of St Martín, St Mikuláš and St Mary na Louži. Until aged only 27 he was granted the appointments of Kapellmeister of St Vít Cathedral and choirmaster of the Benedictine monastery of St Jiří at Hradčany. These appointments were the mostl prestigious – and lucrative, in Prague and Brixi held them until his death from tuberculosis twelve years later. His output was enormous more than 500 published pieces most of them in the Neapolitan Style. If you track down his compositions you'll hear the influence of Alessandro Scarlatti, Francesco Feo and Francesco Durante on the one hand with a light spicing from the Viennese Italian school of Mancini, Reuter and Bonno. I like his music and understand why it was enormously popular with his contemporaries yes there's the Italian influence so beloved of the Eastern European aristocracy and bourgeoisie but far more important is that Brixi was a genuinely talented composer with his own, delightfully cheerful, musical voice. His melodic writing is crisp and fresh vigorous with a vivacity of rhythm and clarity of instrumentation that marks him out from his contemporaries. His fame and his music spread throughout Bohemia and Moravia, in particular but he was also very popular in Austria, Bavaria and Silesia. He influenced musical tastes in those lands in general and profoundly altered musical taste in Bohemia where his music paved the way for Mozart. There can be no doubt that Brixi's influence was a considerable factor in Mozart's favourable reception in 1780s Prague. Enjoy :-).