Anton Bruckner (4 September 1824 – 11 October 1896) was an Austrian composer known for his symphonies, masses, and motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, strongly polyphonic character, and considerable length. Bruckner's compositions helped to define contemporary musical radicalism, owing to their dissonances, unprepared modulations, and roving harmonies.
Mass No. 2 in E minor WAB 27
1. Kyrie – Ruhig Sostenuto, E minor
2. Gloria – Allegro, C major (7:23)
3. Credo – Allegro, C major (15:52)
4. Sanctus – Andante, G major (25:53)
5. Benedictus – Moderato, C major (28:56)
6. Agnus Dei – Andante, E minor veering to E major (35:13)
Gächinger Kantorei and Bach-Collegium Stuttgart conducted by Helmuth Rilling. 1996: CD: Hänssler 98.119
The Mass No. 2 in E minor, WAB 27, by Anton Bruckner is a setting of the mass ordinary for eight-part mixed choir and wind band (2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets and 3 trombones)
The bishop of Linz, Franz-Josef Rudigier, had already commissioned a Festive cantata from Bruckner in 1862 to celebrate the laying of the foundation stone of the new cathedral, the Maria-Empfängnis-Dom. In 1866, he asked Bruckner for a mass to celebrate the accomplishment of the construction of the Votive Chapel of the new cathedral. Because of a delay in completing the construction, the celebration of the dedication didn't take place until three years later, on 29 September 1869.
Bruckner subjected the work to far-reaching revision in 1869, 1876, and 1882. The second version of 1882 was performed on 4 October 1885 in the Alter Dom, Linz.
The piece is based strongly on old-church music tradition, and particularly old Gregorian style singing. The Kyrie is almost entirely made up of a cappella singing for eight voices. The Gloria ends with a fugue, as in Bruckner's other masses. In the Sanctus, Bruckner uses a theme from Palestrina's Missa Brevis.
According to the Catholic practice – as also in Bruckner’s preceding Missa solemnis and Mass No. 1 – the first verse of the Gloria and the Credo is not composed and has to be intoned by the priest in Gregorian mode before the choir goes on.
Previously Bruckner had been criticized for "simply writing symphonies with liturgical text," and although the Cecilians were not entirely happy with the inclusion of wind instruments, "Franz Xaver Witt loved it, no doubt rationalizing the use of wind instruments as necessary under the circumstances of outdoor performance for which Bruckner wrote the piece." "The Mass in E minor ... is a work without parallel in either 19th- or 20th-century church music."