NEC is having a Stravinsky brouhaha to try and match our Webern festivus. Except they're doing Firebird with choreography so I guess they win. But what interested me was the intriguingly title gem (i.e. free concert) "Rarely-Performed Masterworks". Now I don't know much about Stravinsky, embarassingly little outside the big three "Russian" period ballets, but I felt like a had a bit of street cred for having heard one of these masterworks. Or maybe the performers should having known to perform it? meta meta meta......
In a sense, the Mass was kind of written for a high school choir, or at least a volunteer church choir—Stravinsky fully intended it to be used in services. Probably works better that way, but nobody much does the full-out sing-the-latin-bits Catholic Mass anymore, so it's hard to tell. (Full disclousure: I actually love the Mass, although I may have been biased by singing it before I had ever heard it. From the inside out, it's pretty cool.)
I had a bad feeling about getting the knives out, but I told myself that no one got anywhere from pussyfooting. John Heiss actually mentioned the Mass's intentions as such, but since the course I'm TA'ing for just got out of Palestrina and Victoria my ideas of what a church choir can do are perhaps at little dated. (Much less Gesualdo, whew!)
I stand by my assessment of the performance as lackluster at best, but I'll investigate a recording (especially if you have suggestions) and listen with a open mind/heart. Also, wasn't there a church around here that did a full-out Machaut Mass recently, or maybe in the past coupla years?
Well, we're spoiled here in Boston as to church choirs—nearly everybody's got one, and they do occasionally break out the old rites and integrate them into the service. (I mean, Emmanuel still does a Bach cantata every Sunday, which is just mind-boggling.) By comparison, when I lived in Chicago, I never heard of a choral mass being sung at a liturgy. Ever. (New Yorkers can head over to St. Thomas 5th Ave. and probably others I don't know about.)
As for a recording of the Mass, I'm not sure.... I heard one once that was either Stravinsky or Craft conducting (hard to tell them apart sometimes) and it was pretty by-the-numbers. I'll poke around the next time I think of it, though—there's probably some Scandanavian choir out there that just sings the hell out of it. And you may very well still hate it. Stravinsky's like that: I mean, every fiber in my being is predisposed to like Oedipus Rex but my attention invariably wanders. I still give it a chance every few years, though. ("It's Cocteau! I must like it!")
Anyone know where in Boston you can hear an old style Latin mass with the sung liturgy etc? Would be interested in finding out. Tony