Commissioned by Greenwich Festival 1985 for the Thomas Tallis Choir in its 20th anniversary year with funds from Greater London Arts.

MISSA BREVIS was Paul Patterson’s first extended work for unaccompanied choir. It uses the standard Latin text and lasts about 17 minutes.

The Kyrie is in 3 sections; the material sung by the female voices in the first section is later recalled by the males in the third section and vice versa. Pyramid chords are used as the basis of the central section Christe eleison. Most of the movement is mysterious sounding and written in a whole tone scale, but at certain points the composer relaxes the tension and uses simpler harmonic progressions.

The Gloria opens with a flourish by a solo bass which is answered by the whole choir. A lively syncopated movement follows, ending in a triumphant chord of A major. The Sanctus has two sections: the first combines two contrasting ideas, a mechanical-sounding chant and a flowing motif sung by the sopranos and altos. It starts simply and gradually grows to a large climax which leads to a majestic, contrapuntal second section.

There are also two sections in the Benedictus; the first is gentle and light and features a solo quartet, the second reworks the contrapuntal section of the previous movement.

The Agnus Dei, in contrast, mixes choral motifs with static, floating passages and refers back to material heard earlier in the work. A rising solo soprano line brings the mass to a peaceful conclusion.

Text: Liturgical


Written 1985

Unaccompanied Chorus
SATB Chorus a capella
Length 17′

Commission: Greenwich Festival
Dedication: ‘To Dermot Agnew’
Publisher: Universal Edition

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