Mp3 Blog #43: “Messe de Liverpool”

Pierre Henry:
Messe de Liverpool: Kyrie (1967)
Agnus Dei

Musique concrète

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In my first mp3 blog post I posted the last part from this, possibly my favorite work by the acousmatic master Pierre Henry. Since then I’ve regretted placing that movement out of the context of the entire work, especially because separating it takes it away from the powerful dramatic movement towards the sound mass in the “Communion.” Now I think it’s time to rectify that error and demonstrate the powerful subsuming that is at the heart of this mass.

Although I wasn’t raised in the Christian faith and probably know far more about most of the world’s other religions and faith besides Christianity I’ve long been drawn toward the musical form of the Mass and new contemporary perspectives on it. Of all the contemporary Masses and Requiems that I’ve heard, I think that Pierre Henry’s “Messe de Liverpool” (composed for the inaugural overeture of the Liverpool Metropolitain Cathedral of Christ the King) is my favorite.

Earlier today I heard percussionist Steve Schick make a point that I really agree with – that there are so many amazing sounds in the world that composers really do not need to use technology to create new sounds. This statement particularly reminded me of this Mass and most of Pierre Henry’s oeuvre – where the primary source is performed acoustic sounds. It is from this dynamic and exciting source that this work begins and derives the imagination that is at its centre.

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