• Kenneth Leighton
  • Missa de Gloria (1980)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Irish Life Ltd.

  • Organ
  • 35 min

Programme Note

Kenneth Leighton: Missa De Gloria, Op. 82

This work was begun in 1979 and completed in March 1980. It was commissioned for the first Dublin International Organ Festival by Irish Life Ltd, and was first performed by Gerard Gillen in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin in June 1980.

While the music of the Kyrie is free the rest of the movements are based on the beautiful medieval chant for Easter Day as sung in Salisbury Cathedral, and this is the first of my works almost entirely inspired by plainsong. A brief indication of the structure follows:

1. KYRIE intense and mainly contrapuntal movement based on oscillating major and minor thirds.

After introductory fanfare-like sections, the music closely follows the plainsong in the manner of a toccata. A softer middle section (Agnus Dei qui tollis…) is more intense and employs elaborate decoration. The second toccata is more fully developed than the first and culminates in a fugal coda on the word Amen.

3. CREDO This employs soft colours throughout and is mostly calm and meditative. The chant speaks for itself but the treatment becomes gradually more decorative towards the end.

4. SANCTUS This opens with a slow swing in great chordal and polytonal texture, but the Pleni sunt coeli is soft and dance-like. The Benedictus is in the form of a bitonal duet on solo stops, slow and mystical, and a brief reference to the dance says Hosanna.

5. AGNUS DEI A passionate contrapuntal texture gives way to quiet and chordal misereres. The final Agnus Dei and Dona nobis pacem are soloistic and triadic in conception.

6. ITE MISSA EST A brilliant toccata ending with a massive acclamation.

© Kenneth Leighton