About this Recording
8.555080 - VANHAL: Missa Pastoralis / Missa Solemnis

Johann Baptist Vanhal (1739 - 1813)

Missa Pastoralis in G major; Missa Solemnis in C major

One of the most curious aspects of Vanhal's large musical output is the surprising number of sacred works given that at no stage in his long career was he employed first and foremost as a church musician. Among these works are around fifty settings of the Ordinary of the Mass, a substantial body of work by contemporary standards. Haydn, for example, who like Vanhal cannot be considered a 'professional' church musician, composed a dozen Masses, half of them late in life and for very specific occasions. Leopold Hofmann, Vienna's leading church musician for much of his life, wrote over forty Masses although the exact number remains uncertain. We know that Vanhal enjoyed close associations with a number of monastic foundations and it is possible that they commissioned works from him from time to time. Nonetheless, it cannot be discounted entirely that he wrote many of these works from inner conviction. There was certainly little financial gain to be had in composing church music in comparison with other genres and Vanhal, the most important and successful freelance composer in Vienna, would have been only too well aware of this.

Although the notion of composing a Missa pastoralis was relatively new, the origins of the pastoral style have been traced back to seventeenth-century Italy where composers such as Corelli created a style of composition suitable for performance at the Christmas Eve service. In Bohemia, where Vanhal grew up, the style became especially popular and composers wrote 'pastoral' symphonies as well as, 'pastoral' motets. Interestingly enough, Leopold Hofmann wrote in both genres and yet did not compose a fully-fledged Missa Pastoralis. Vanhal's sole­-surviving Mass in the pastoral style, the Missa Pastoralis in G major, was composed no later than 1782, the date of the earliest documented performance, and is a relatively early and extremely important example of the genre in Vienna. Four copies of the work survive, an indication that the Mass enjoyed a reasonable level of popularity during the composer's lifetime.

The pastoral style in eighteenth-century music is characterized by its simplicity and rustic charm. Two of its most obvious stock devices - the drone bass and what can best be described as a yodeling pattern - are found in works as diverse as Hofmann's motet Pastor bone and Johann Stamitz's famous Sinfonia Pastorale in D major. Vanhal had no hesitation in adopting these hoary old clichés but his use of them - not only to set the scene but, as Bruce MacIntyre has observed, 'to promote a coherent musical unity for the Mass cycle' ­- is sophisticated and highly effective. Thus, thematic material from the Kyrie - or close derivations of it - ­also finds its way into the Gloria, Et resurrexit, Benedictus and Dona nobis settings. The simplicity of the 'pastoral' sections of the Mass is leavened by ingenious orchestral writing and the remainder of the work is infused with Vanhal's characteristically dramatic and highly organic musical language. This is readily apparent in the brilliantly conceived central section of the Gloria, beginning with the soprano-alto duet, Domine Jesu which evolves into a powerful and dramatic setting of the text Qui tollis peccata mundi, and in the driving symphonic sweep of the Credo.

Unlike the old Baroque 'number' Mass, of which Bach's B minor Mass is the supreme exemplar, the Missa Pastoralis is cast in six major movements with a central contrasting section in the textually long Gloria and Credo movements. This ground plan allows Vanhal to work on a larger scale in terms of the work's musical architecture in order to achieve a sense of continuity and musical unity. One manifestation of this is the use he makes of the soloists. In order to avoid the disruption of arias and set-pieces the soloists are used more like concertante instruments in a symphony to delineate new and important ideas. By using the soloists alone for the Et incarnatus and then reintroducing the choir boldly at the Crucifixus, Vanhal effects a miraculous transition from a state of rapturous mystery to high drama. In the Dona nobis, the theme of which bears an unnerving resemblance to 'Shoo fly, don't bother me', the soloists are used in short contrasting blocks alongside the full choir. At no stage do they sing independent parts simultaneously with the choir. This is very typical of the eighteenth-century Viennese Mass where the choirs for which the works were written were generally small - often two or three to a part - and the 'first singer' in each section functioned as soloist and also sang in the tutti sections.

The Missa Solemnis in C major was composed sometime before 1778, the year Göttweig monastery acquired a copy. The work seems to have circulated fairly widely in central Europe and at least a dozen copies have been preserved. Unlike the Missa Pastoralis the present work belongs to the mainstream of the eighteenth-century Viennese concerted Mass tradition. Its employment of the organ as a concertante instrument in the Quoniam is a little unusual for Vanhal but it has many precedents in the Masses of Hofmann and others. If one feature distinguishes this Mass and the Missa Pastoralis from many other works of the period, it is its modern instrumentation. The typical Viennese Missa solemnis was scored for choir - possibly with concertante voices - two clarini (high trumpets), timpani, two violins, violoncello, violone (a small double bass) and organ. A pair of trombones was generally used to double the ripieno alto and tenor voices and a bassoon might be added to the bass-line if it were readily available. Our two Vanhal Masses, however, omit the customary trombones and include a pair of oboes and a full string section with an independent viola part. With the exception of the organ continuo the forces used by Vanhal in the Masses are virtually identical with those found in many of his symphonies. His use of the oboes in both works raises some interesting questions. Oboes were considered very secular instruments during the mid-eighteenth century, and, like the lascivious horns, had even been excluded from church orchestras at one stage by papal edict. Although we know that this ban was not very strictly enforced, it is interesting to note that in 1783 when a census of church musicians was carried out in Vienna only one church numbered oboists in its orchestral ranks. It is possible, therefore, that this Mass, and others by Vanhal, was commissioned either for performance in a private chapel or by one of the great monastic houses like Göttweig whose members had assiduously collected the composer's symphonies from the very outset of his career.

In stylistic terms there is a strong kinship between this work and the Missa Pastoralis that goes far deeper than instrumentation. Both works display a similar complexity of internal musical organization, one which takes precedence over the structure of the text, notably in the long Gloria and Credo movements. Vanhal takes care to set the text intelligibly but, like all composers, he devotes special care to sections like the Qui tollis, Et incarnatus and Agnus Dei. The two Masses also include some thrilling contrapuntal writing for the chorus, the high point being the brilliant concluding Dona nobis fugue of the C major Mass.

Long after his death and when his multitude of symphonies, quartets and concertos lay forgotten, Vanhal's Masses and motets continued to be performed in cathedrals and churches throughout Austria, Bohemia and the South of Germany. Their survival into the age of Brahms and Wagner was not due solely to the forces of conservatism at work in the church but rather a testament to the enduring artistic worth of the music.

Allan BadIey

Johann Baptist Vaňhal (1739 - 1813)

Johann Baptist Vaňhal (1739 - 1813)

Missa Pastoralis in G major

Missa Solemnis in C major


Missa Pastoralis and Missa Solemnis




Kyrie eleison.

Christe eleison.

Kyrie eleison.



Lord have mercy,

Christ have mercy,

Lord have mercy.



Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Et in terra pax

hominibus bonae voluntatis.

Laudamus te,

benedicimus te,

adoramus te,

glorificamus le.

Gratias agimus tibi

propter magnam gloriam tuam.

Domine Deus, Rex coelestis,

Deus Pater omnipotens.

Domine Fili unigenite,

Jesu Christe, altissime.

Domine Deus, Agnus Dei,

Filius Patris.

Qui tollis peccata mundi,

miserere nobis.

Qui tollis peccata mundi,

suscipe deprecationem nostram.

Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,

miserere nobis.

Quoniam tu solus sanctus,

tu solus Dominus,

tu solus Altissimus,

Jesu Christe.

Cum Sancto Spiritu

in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.



Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace

to men of goodwill.

We praise you;

we bless you;

we worship you;

we glorify you;

we give thanks to you

for your great glory.

Lord God, heavenly King,

God the Father almighty,

Lord the only Son,

Jesus Christ; most high.

Lord God, lamb of God,

Son of the Father.

You who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us;

you who take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer;

you who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.

For you only are holy,

you only are Lord,

you only are the most high,

Jesus Christ,

with the Holy Spirit

in the glory of God the Father. Amen.



Credo in unum Deum.

Patrem omnipotentem,

factorem coeli et terrae,

visibilium omnium et invisibilium.

Et in unum Dominum, Jesum Christum,

Filium Dei unigenitum,

et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula :

Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine,

Deum verum de Deo vero.

Genitum, non factum,

consubstantialem Patri :

per quem omnia facta sunt.

Qui propter nos homines,

et propter nostram salutem

descendit de coelis.

Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto

ex Maria virgine ;

et homo factus est.

Crucifixus etiam pro nobis :

sub Pontio Pilato :

Passus et sepultus est.

Et resurrexit tertia die,

secundum scripturas,

et ascendit in coelum.

sedet ad dexteram Patris.

Et iterum venturus est cum gloria

judicare vivos et mortuos :

cujus regni non erit finis.

Et in Spiritum Sanctum,

Dominum, et vivificantem :

qui ex Patre Filioque procedit.

Qui cum Patre et Filio,

simul adoratur et conglorificatur :

qui locutus est per Prophetas.

Et unam sanctam catholicam et

et apostolicam Ecclesiam.

Confiteor unum baptisma

in remissionem peccatorum.

Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum. Et vitam venturi saeculi. Amen.



I believe in one God,

the Father almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

in all things visible and invisible;

and in one Lord Jesus Christ,

only son of God,

and born of the Father eternally.

God of God, light of light,

true God of true God:

begotten not made,

of one substance with the Father

by whom all things were made;

he who for mankind

and for our salvation

descended from heaven.

And was incarnate by the Holy Spirit

of the virgin Mary,

and was made man.

He was crucified also for us

under Pontius Pilate;

he died and was buried.

And he rose again on the third day

according to the scriptures;

and ascended into heaven,

he is seated at the right hand of the Father;

and he will come again with glory

to judge the living and the dead,

whose kingdom will have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord and giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son;

who with the Father and the Son

is worshipped and glorified,

who has spoken through the prophets.

And I believe in one holy catholic

and apostolic church.

I acknowledge one baptism

for the forgiveness of sins,

and I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.



Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus,

Dominus Deus Sabaoth!

Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua,

Hosanna in excelsis!



Holy, holy, holy,

Lord God of Sabaoth!

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest!



Benedictus Qui venit in nomine Domini:

name of the Lord:

hosanna in excelsis!



Blessed is he who comes in the


Hosanna in the highest!


Agnus Dei

Agnus Dei Qui tollis peccata mundi miserere nobis dona nobis pacem



Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.



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