PEKKA KOSTIAINEN (b.1944): Missa Viridium, Passio, Missa Paschalis.
Catalogue Number: 04W053
Reference: ABCD 455
Description: Triduum paschale is a splendidly direct, communicative and stirring Easter oratorio comprising a triptych of works for the Easter Triduum; Masses for Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday, and a powerful, vividly dramatised setting of the Passion according to St Luke for Good Friday. The work is written in an immediately approachable modern style, entirely tonal, drawing on the Baroque tradition of sacred oratorios but also referencing plainchant, Renaissance polyphony, Orthodox troparia and Lutheran chorales, the whole dressed up in sumptuous neo-romantic garb. Dramatic passages of the narrative are periodically emphasised by music with a propulsive pulse, insistent enough to be described as post-minimalist (though with little of the harmonic repetition that that implies), or as a "beat" or rhythmic bass-line (but without venturing into "crossover" territory), which undeniably adds to the work’s instant accessibility to a wide audience. The appealing, neo-romantic Missa viridium celebrates the evening of Maundy Thursday, full of tension, expectation and foreboding - but also sublime mystery, with the institution of the Eucharist. Beginning in calm prayerfulness, the Kyrie eleison accumulates an ominous dramatic tension; the following Gospel passage is that narrating the Last Supper. The Dies irae makes a momentary appearance at the moment of the prediction of Christ's betrayal - a nice theatrical touch. The Mass concludes with a rapt, reverent Sanctus and an Agnus Dei with a mounting sense of foreboding. The Passion confronts the listener in media crucifixione with powerful, momentous neo-romantic scene-setting; the Gospel texts introduce the Pilate scene with urgent, pounding insistence somewhat reminiscent of Orff. The Reproaches from the Easter hymn "Ecce lignum crucis in quo salve mundi" are sorrowfully intoned by the soloists in a chamber setting, while passages from the Book of Lamentations punctuate the increasingly calamitous Biblical narrative, leading to the tragic Tenebrae factae sunt, presented first as an a cappella motet in Latin, then in the vernacular in a powerful choral setting with full orchestral accompaniment. The Passion ends by recalling the Stations of the Cross, in an increasingly monumental chorus that ends in a valedictory chorale offering hope through redemption. The Mass for Easter Sunday is triumphant, beginning with a modal, dancing introduction and an exultant chorale with fanfares and pealing bells. The exuberant Gloria is interspersed with verses of a traditional hymn of praise, in which the congregation is directed to participate in public performance, harmonized in accordance with the traditions of the hymnal. The Easter morning Gospel is told in radiant music of warmth, illuminated by ingenious touches such as the differentiation of the angelic apparition at the tomb sung in chant or motet style in Latin, from the surrounding events, rich in harmony and sung in Finnish. The Credo surges with enthusiastic momentum; the Sanctus rings out with angelic choirs, and the Agnus Dei is a song of comforting warmth, prefacing the final thunderously exultant jubilation. 2 CDs. Texts and tranlsations included. Musica Choir, Jyväskylä Sinfonia, St. Michel Strings; Ville Matvejeff.