Pope Francis I / Sistine Chapel Choir

Habemus Papam

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This recording is not a reconstruction of the music that accompanies the selection of a new pope, nor, thank goodness, the soundtrack to the 2012 film comedy with which it shares a title. Instead it is an actual live recording of three masses, plus a litany and motet, as they were sung over three days when Francis I was chosen as Pope in 2013. Two of the masses were recorded outdoors, in St. Peter's Square, and the music is liberally accompanied by late-winter coughing and the clicking of camera shutters. It might be supposed from all this that the album is primarily intended as a souvenir of the occasion, and no doubt the sales to be reaped from that status explain its release on the venerable Deutsche Grammophon imprint. Yet it's interesting even for those with no particular connection to Francis and Catholicism. It's still rare to a mass as music for direct musical use rather than as a musical artifact, and it's interesting especially to hear the vast litany of saints chanted, or like a tribal invocation of ancestors, as the cardinals enter the selection conclave. Further, the music as a whole, to quote the booklet note by Roberto Gabbiani, is "steeped in history and at the same time so much part of the present. It comes from the liturgy given out by the Second Vatican Council, which is pronounced to good purpose as a guarantee of the essential concern for the congregation, in an illuminating dialogue with contemporary culture and with a skillful inclusion of segments of tradition that are part of history, respecting the roots of its own identity." Thus, one will hear pieces ranging from Gregorian chant to contemporary compositions and even, at the end of the Mass for the beginning of the Petrine Ministry (the office of the Pope), a fugue by the Lutheran Bach. Some of the music is a cappella, some accompanied by organ, some monophonic, some polyphonic. In the end, whatever listeners think of such a thing, the album represents a decent document revealing where the Catholic church stood musically at the beginning of Francis' papacy.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 10:34
2 3:20
3 2:47
Missa de Angelis (Mass of the Angels)
4 1:58
5 2:08
6 2:53
Missa de Angelis (Mass of the Angels)
7 1:51
8 1:26
9 2:31
10 1:53
11 1:55
12 0:49
13 3:58
14 12:36
Missa de Angelis (Mass of the Angels)
15 6:01
16 2:07
17 6:55
18 1:09
19 8:07
Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 545
20 3:04
blue highlight denotes track pick