Missa Brevis (Fine, Vivian)




MP3 file (audio)
rhymesandchymes (2012/4/7)

MP3 file (audio)
rhymesandchymes (2012/4/7)

Performers Jan DeGaetani, mezzo-soprano
Eric Barlett, David Finckel, Michael Finckel, Maxine Neuman, cellos
Publisher Info. CRI-New World Records, used with permission
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MP3 file (audio)
Rhymesandchymes (2013/5/8)

Performers Jan DeGaetani
Publisher Info. Vivian Fine estate
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Sheet Music


PDF typeset by Paul Hawkins
rhymesandchymes (2012/4/7)

Publisher. Info. Vivian Fine Estate
Misc. Notes Request Licenses from ASCAP
For a copy of the vocal tape contact the Vivian Fine Estate
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General Information

Work Title Missa Brevis
Alternative. Title
Composer Fine, Vivian
I-Catalogue NumberI-Cat. No. IVF 39
Movements/SectionsMov'ts/Sec's 10 movements:
  1. Praeludium (cellos)
  2. Kyrie (voice)
  3. Omnium - All things (cellos, voice)
  4. Omnium visibilium et invisibilium - All things visible and invisible (cello)
  5. Lacrymosa - Weeping (cellos)
  6. Teste David cum Sibylla - So spoke David and the Sybil (cellos. voice)
  7. Dies irae - Day of wrath (cellos, voice)
  8. Eli, Eli, Lomo asov toni - My God, why hast thou forsaken me? …from the 22nd psalm (voice)
  9. Sanctus - Holy (cellos)
  10. Omein - Amen (voice, cellos)
Year/Date of CompositionY/D of Comp. 1972
First Performance. 1973-04-15, Finch College Concert Hall, New York City
Gail Alcock, Lori Barnet, Michael Finckel, Barbara Mallow, cellos,
taped voice (Jan DeGaetani, mezzo-soprano)
Librettist see Comments
Language Latin
Average DurationAvg. Duration 20 1/2 minutes
Composer Time PeriodComp. Period Modern
Piece Style Modern
Instrumentation 4 cellos and taped voice

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The composition is Fine’s spiritual statement. She selected texts, sometimes just a word, from various Mass traditions. Five of the ten movements, such as ‘Preludium,’ ‘Lacrymosa’, and ‘Dies Irae,’ are textless, and Fine portrays the meaning through the celli’s gestures and textures. Sometimes they are fused in vertical textures–sounding like modernistic organ music as in ‘Preludium,’ or resembling singers as in ‘lacrymosa’s madrigal-like setting. Fine did not succumb to the temptation of having the tape part be repetitious canons or obvious manipulations of material. As in her acoustic music, each line’s counterpoint contributes its own statement.

—Heidi Von Gunden, liner notes to “Vivian Fine,” CRI American Masters CD 692


…haunting…a stunning musical achievement….The Missa Brevis is a curious, intensely personalized collage of both the Latin Mass and Hebrew sacred service elements. The brilliant and demanding use of cellos in the opening Praeludium and throughout the piece covering an enormous tessitura and frequently employing harmonics, produces an amazing resemblance to the standard string quartet. The Kyrie, a reverent, whispered breathing of the name of the Lord, leads into the two Omni sections, both of which employ the more intensely coloristic qualities of the cello, coupled with a vocal strand which is persisitently serene and ethereal. A mad, frenzied swirling of notes at the end of the fourth movement ushers in the intensely tragic Lacrymosa, complete with morunful descents of sobbing minor second intervals. In the sixth movement David and Sibyl are engaged in an eerie Twilight Zone sort of dialogue, haunted by ghostly quivering harmonics, and a voice floating like a sould lost in deep space. the Dies Irae briefly epitomizes the violent outburst of an angry God towards a fallen mankind, but the Eli section, while obviously not Christ’s scriptural quotation spoiken from the cross, seems to reflect the less complex poignancy of David conversing with the Lord in Psalm 22. Finally, the Sanctus, austerely written for cellos alone, allows for a prayerful and yet somehow frustratingly tentative Omein (Amen) to conclude this brooding and tragic lament.

—Dale Shepfer, American Record Guide, October, 1982

[Fine] writes…elegant and inventive works….The ten-part mass…left an impression of distant times and cool cathedrals.

—Donal Henahan, New York Times, April 17, 1973

...comforting as a saintly touch [and] just as beautiful….moving and almost hypnotic, like the best vocal pieces of Crumb and Berio.

—Paul Hertelendy, Oakland Tribune, March 10 and 17, 1974

…lovely…The collage of voice tracks…and cello accompaniment creates a haunting piece that leaves a lasting impression.

—John Ditsky, Fanfare, 1982

…a most original work…a moving statement.

—Robert Commanday, San Francisco Chronicle,October 24, 1982