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ClassicsOnline Home » GAWLICK, R.Y.: Missa gentis humanae (Trinity Wall Street Choir, Wachner)
Very unusual but very interesting
The "Missa gentis humane" or 'word made flesh' is a Christian setting of the belief in Jesus as Messiah, of course, but in this case, German composer Ralf Yusuf Gawlick has taken the Latin Mass on this subject and interspersed it with a very diverse set of text sources.
One of the main devices used here is that Gawlick dedicated the composition of this piece to his wife, Basia, the spelling of whose name can be transcribed into the German names for pitches ("B" as B-flat, "As" as A-flat, and so forth). These in turn are turned into the first letters of the Hebrew alphabet and hummed or intoned by the chorus.
Gawlick's composition is also presented as a "Mass for the Human Race" and utilizes text from poetry by Jorge Luis Borges, the Eclogues of Virgil, essays by Bertold Brecht and even extracts from Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov".
In many ways, this highly eclectic set of sources and the symbolism or implication behind choosing them is a little bit of a mess. It seems almost too random to bear a clear rationale, besides whatever the meaning is to Gawlick, himself, or his wife. So instead we should focus on the music. This is a pleasant, frequently pretty work that really does "old" and ecclesiastic in its sounds; not "modern" at all.
This is also a fairly small-scale work; sung by the eight-member Trinity Wall Street (cathedral) chorale, conducted by Julian Wachner. The singers are quite good and the work is attractive in a way that resembles old style polyphony. I recommend this as a pleasant piece of choral writing; not for any particular profundity. There is nothing to dislike here but I would certainly like other varied examples of Gawlick's composition to get a more complete picture of his talents and style. I would like to hear his "Kinderkreuzzug" for children's chorus, for example.more....
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