This was Hasse’s
last completed work and was written in the year of his death,
1783. He was a long admired member of the Dresden court, of
course, and the re-consecration of that city’s Frauenkirche
gave renewed impetus to the exploration of this, his third
setting of the Mass; one that he wrote in Venice.
It’s not a Missa
Solemnis as such though it is a big and imposing work written
for commensurately large vocal and instrumental forces. It’s
tempting to think the Kyrie explicitly Mozartian but it’s
necessary to remember that Hasse was born in 1699 and that
the fugal procedures Hasse uses are exemplary in themselves
and show a debt rather more orientated to Bach than to Mozart.
The coro of the Gloria discloses another model, Vivaldi. The
Venetian influence on Hasse was distinctive in his later years
and this part of the Mass would almost certainly confuse an
innocent ear as to the nationality of its composer.
agimus is one of the most immediately affecting parts
of the Mass with its ascending and descending vocal lines.
And in the Qui tollis we can hear another facet of
Hasse’s comprehensive skill, his command of orchestral colour.
The long bassoon solo, and the rich orchestral brush-strokes,
are impressive and the modern instrument Virtuosi Saxoniae
play with a sure awareness of important components of historically
The brass, percussion
and choral writing of the Quoniam are all, once more, fiercely
Vivaldian in derivation and orientation though one can detect
in the string phrasing of the Credo a distinct Haydnesque
influence. There is a consoling duet between soprano and alto
but, even more impressive, is the long-limbed and melismatic
solo soprano writing in the Benedictus; the solo line here
is a constant delight and the orchestral cushion is supple
and aerated. This leads to the excellently sprung and rousing
Agnus Dei, which ends the work in a spirit of joyous affirmation.
colouristically there is a lot to detain the listener here.
The solo lines are often taxing and they’re generally well
taken. The bass gets around the notes and rather “chest swells”
in the Domine Deus but could be subtler. Otherwise this is
a fruitful addition to the recorded repertoire.