A fascinating American discovery
Steven | Cambridge, MA | 05/24/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"An amazing complex, compelling, and powerful work for a young American composer barely out of his twenties when he composed an entire Catholic Mass in the 1860's. There are a few awkward moments, such as bizarre vocal lines or slightly clunky orchestration, but still overall very effective. Very Victorian as well, but in a good way. Among the choruses, the Dona Nobis Pacem is a real knock-out, an ethereal and moving piece that fades into eternity. The finest solos include the yearnful tenor solo "Quoniam" and the delicately tragic "Et incarnatus" soprano solo. Recommended for all interested in the development of American classical music and in 19th century American cultural history. Could it be dubbed "The Civil War Mass"! The orchestra is lush sounding under the baton of Schuller, but the chorus is rough, squawky, and somewhat imprecise, which is a shame for this piece of music."
A great work by a neglected great American
Stephen Shotwell | Belmont CA | 06/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Clearly, John Knowles Paine composed this Mass in D after studying Beethoven's great Mass in D. The resemblances in text treatment and musical structure of these two works make this obvious.
Of course, Paine's mass is inferior to Beethoven's masterpiece. Still, it is a beautiful achievement. Even as a young, inexperienced composer, Paine is inspired with fresh and expressive music for the sacred text.
If you enjoy the masses of Beethoven and Cherubini, you will very much enjoy this recording. (And yes, if you don't know the Cherubini masses, check them out!)
I find the performance very satisfactory. (And speaking of performances...good luck finding a decent version of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. I have stumbled on too many appalling versions of this masterwork. At least Klemperer has a better understanding than most, though some sections are a bit grandiose.)"
Fred A. Wachsberger | North Yorkshire UK | 02/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I heard this piece of music on my car radio some 20 years ago, having not the slightest idea what it was. It certainly sounded Germanic but was totally unfamiliar to me, being a member of a choir and having sung most of the well known pieces by then.
At the end of the BBC broadcast it's identity was revealed but I had to obtain a record (before CDs, before audiotapes ...) direct from the USA. Research revealed that John Knowles Paine had indeed studied in Germany.
It would be great if some famous choir took this Mass under its wing and started performing it on a regular basis. It is a truly lovely piece of choral music but sadly neglected.
In the meantime you'll just have to enjoy the CD!"