Peter Maxwell Davies wrote his two contrasted settings of the Mass for Westminster Cathedral Choir in 2002 and 2003, both of them among his most approachable works. Where the Missa Parvula is a setting for boys' voices in unison with organ accompaniment, the Mass is for full choir, with organ accompaniment involving a second instrument in two of the sections. The lyrical directness of the Missa Parvula, with the final Agnus Dei sounding almost like a carol, is immediately attractive, touching in its simplicity. Maxwell Davies, with roots in medieval music, tends to avoid making the liturgy dramatic, so that even the setting of Et Resurrexit in the Credo hardly stands out from the lyrical flow. Similarly, in the Mass for full choir, using a much more complex idiom, the composer even more strikingly draws on medieval techniques, basing it on two Whitsun plainsong chants. The result is altogether darker, even violent at times.
CD: Maxwell Davies: Mass, etc: Westminster Cathedral Choir/ Quinney/ Houssart/ Baker, et al