Haydn – Lord Nelson Mass
Kaplan – Song of Songs
Haydn’s most famous Mass setting, written in 1798, is often linked to the victory of Lord Nelson against Napoleon. Certainly it has a militaristic tone, with the orchestra limited to strings, trumpets, and timpani, but the nickname came after the music. The officially titled Missa in angustiis – “Mass in a time of anguish” – reflects the composer’s worries for a war-ravaged Europe. It is among Haydn’s most beloved works.
Abraham Kaplan’s Song of Songs provides a light-hearted contrast. The composer avoids the religious connotations by selecting and organizing verse from the biblical book into a love story. The text alternates between English and the original Hebrew, with the men’s chorus and women’s chorus sometimes in a bilingual dialogue. Kaplan, whose works have often been performed by the Chorale in recent years, composed his Song of Songs in 2013. It receives its world premiere at these performances.