Tip! Ákos Rózmann’s Mass consists of twelve electroacoustic compositions created between 1989 and 2004 in the composer’s studio and at EMS in Stockholm. Like most of Rózmann’s compositions, Mass is a long-form work with a duration of around seven hours.
We can describe Rózmann’s Mass as an enormous fresco of personal observations on the two first parts of the Catholic Mass, Kyrie and Gloria. The intensely subjective perspective on the texts of the Mass is underlined by Rózmann’s freezing images – in his own words – “tropes”, i.e. meditations in Swedish, Hungarian and Latin over particular words in the mass text or connection to it. A few passages have nothing to do with the mass text: Organ piece VI in Gloria I (also performed with the subtitle Nocturne in silver and dance) is a sort of lament based on the phrase “Natten gråter” (the night is crying). We find the composer’s peculiar sense of humour in the intermezzo following Gloria I – a composed version of the intermission common in Swedish concert houses, complete with clashing coffee cups and empty chatter from the bureaucratic music establishment.
The overarching formal structure of Mass is an intricate one, with the various parts functioning simultaneously as independent pieces and as parts of sub-groups within the whole structure of the piece. As independent pieces, some of them go under the name Organ piece. For example, the three pieces included in the first Gloria part of mass form another independent composition named Triptykon, first performed as a separate work in 1996. In the earlier parts of Mass, a battle fought between Positive forces is represented by the words in the Mass text and Negative forces represented by various challenging sounds, such as scornful laughter, grunts, burps, nauseous choking and vomiting sounds. First, the Negative powers drag down the Positive forces into a “black hole” or in pockets. Then the Positive forces return to dominate the remaining parts of Gloria. This formal narrative is nuanced by the composer, who, in interviews, offer a less dualistic, more complex viewpoint on the conflict central to the Mass:
“It’s presumable that everything in the general sense is about the notion of positive or negative because everything in the world is structured like that. But it’s not that simple in the Triptych [the first three pieces of the Gloria-cycle]. Different forces stand against each other, but their interrelation is more complex than that of good and evil.” The most prominent sound sources in the work are the organ, a Hungarian zither and human voices. Throughout the whole piece, there is a vocal group from a village church in Corsica, singing the Latin mass texts solo and chorally. Other participants are Schola Gregoriana Holmiae under the direction of Viveca Servatius, a group of German Benedictine monks and – in the role of a sort of master of ceremonies, Thomas Hammar.
Project concept, curation & art direction: Stephen O’Malley
Ákos Rózmann archivist: Mats Lindström
Ears and eyes on the project: Mats Erlandsson
Project consultation: Viveca Servatius
Mastering by Stephan Mattieu / Schwebung Spring 2021
Booklets design: Lasse Marhaug