The "Secret Mass" referred to in the title of this album actually pertains only to one work: the Mass for two four-part choirs of Swiss composer Frank Martin. The composer suppressed that work for both religious and professional reasons: he believed that his Calvinist faith was a purely private matter, and he was intensely self-critical throughout his career. In any event, it's a lovely work, with a particularly vivid response to the mass text. The juxtaposition of Martin with Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu makes sense, right down to the similarity of their names. Both composers flirted with modern elements within a basically neoclassic context, and both managed to infuse strongly personal elements into their rather fixed styles. Martinu, who fled Communism and settled in America for a time, wrote a good deal of music in English, but here it is Martin who is represented by an English-language work: the Songs of Ariel, to texts by Shakespeare. Sample one or more of these: they're not well-known pieces, and the Danish National Vocal Ensemble under conductor Marcus Creed catches Martin's the lively melodic idiom perfectly. OUR Recordings engineers contribute perfectly idiomatic sound from a Danish Radio studio, and the result is some deeply felt, little-known, and instantly accessible music.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Mass for two four-part choirs|
|Four Songs of the Virgin Mary|
|Songs of Ariel|