The Mass consists of five movements: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei. The Credo is the longest movement and forms the center of the Mass, with the other movements arranged symmetrically around it.
The Kyrie contains about ten short contrasted episodes for full chorus, accompanied by orchestra. Noteworthy is the change of key and instrumentation with every episode. Modulations to at least seven keys, and shifting instrumentation between brass and woodwind add color to this movement. The final two choral phrases are identical to the initial two.
The movement starts with a dialogue between oboe and trumpet. Solo alto joins and is answered by solo treble with an inversion of the alto's theme. The choir responds with chanting on a chord. This alternates with snatches from the duet. Following the choral "Amen" the movement ends.
About the Credo, Stravinsky remarks that `there is much to believe.' The length of the text causes Stravinsky to use chant, with the instruments in the background. The volume is at a constant piano, except at three marcato passages in order to emphasize the words Ecclesiam... peccatorum... mortuorum. The movement then moves abruptly into the canonic a cappella Amen.
The oboes and trumpet declare the short-long figure, with two solo tenors immediately answering in a florid chant, then the full chorus in the short-long rhythm and echoed by the trombones. This is repeated twice. A four-part fugue follows for solo voices, with trumpet and trombone, leading to the Hosanna. The quiet and worshipful Benedictus enters and is developed and intensified. Finally, the Hosanna is repeated.
The Agnus Dei consists of three a cappella passages for the choir alternated with the orchestra. However, the vocal parts are developed, whereas the orchestral parts are repeated exactly.
The first choral passage begins with a duet of the treble voices, the second with a duet in the bass voices, and the final two with the four parts together.
(Adapted from Craft, Stravinsky: The Composer; White, Stravinsky: The Composer and His Works; Walsh, The Music of Stravinsky)
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