Joseph Mayseder Mass ideal for choirs

Gramola has released several recordings of Joseph Mayseder’s music. And I’m glad they did. Mayseder was a younger contemporary of Felix Mendelssohn, whose style his music most reminds me of.

Mayseder was the solo violinist at the Vienna Court Opera and the kapellmeister for the Hofburg Palace chapel. It was there that he wrote is Mass in E-flat major.

The mass is an interesting work, as there are no featured soloists. It’s strictly a choral composition from start to finish, and an exceptionally beautiful one. And the mass was popular.

It was performed at the chapel every New Year’s Eve from 1875 through 1930, earning the name “New Year’s Mass.”

It’s only appropriate, then, that this recording should be with the Men’s Choir and instrumental ensemble of the Vienna Hofmusikkappelle (along with the Vienna Boys Choir).

Mayseder’s choral writing features richly harmonized homophonic melodies. The blend of voices is seamless, though the recorded sound seems a little fuzzy in places.

Thomas Christian, the conductor for the mass, is also the violin soloist for Mayseder’s second concerto. Here the comparison to Mendelssohn pales a little. Mayseder eschews flamboyant technical challenges, such as left-hand pizzicati.

Instead, he concentrates on melodic expression. And that’s a fine thing. It’s a tuneful work, at times sound a little like Gaetano Donizetti (another contemporary of Mayseder).

Although Christian performs with feeling, I can’t say I totally enjoyed the concerto. On the recording, his violin has a somewhat nasal quality to it, especially in the upper register. And that’s a shame because Christian’s actual playing is first-rate.

Get the recording for the mass. It’s gorgeous. And the concerto is okay, too.

Joseph Mayseder: Mass in E-flat major, Op. 64
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in E minor, Op. 26
Thomas Christian, violin, conductor
Vienna Boys Choir
Herrenchor der Wiener Hofmusikkapell
Mitglieder des Ensembles der Wiener Hofmusikkapelle

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