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Missa with three voices and continuous bass

by Giacomo Carissimi (1605 - 1674)

Giacomo Carissimo: In spite of having the chance of taking prestigious tasks, as the direction of the Cappella Marciana in Venice or the role of Maestro at the court of Leopold of Augsburg in Brussels, he preferred to stay in Rome were he was also teaching at the Collegium Germanicum ed Hungaricum.

He had pupils coming from Germany and France, who passed the influence of their Maestro in their countries.

The compositive Opera of Carissimi is impressive. We are counting 207 oratories and mottoes, 227 profane cantatas, 8 messes and numerous organ compositions. Almost all the production was inedited and only in the present Century it was collected and published.

Carissimi died in Rome in 1674. In 1637 he was consecrated priest.

“Missa with three voices and continuous bass”

The manuscript of the “Missa with three voices and continuous bass” is located at the Christ Church Library in Oxford. The Opera belongs to the “missa concertata” genre.
The word concertata (concerted) concerns, in this case, not only the presence of obligatory instruments, but also a conception of the compositive technique characterized by the alternating of homophonic parts and of monody-like parts.

The relevant simplicity of the “Missa with three voices” and the simple expressive means which characterize it, lead to the true and emotional amazement in various points of the inspiration.

Leaving the great century of Polyphonic music, in this simple composition we can see the essential elements, now and ten hidden, of what is called nowadays a mess.

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