Jan Janca’s music reflects his personal experience. In remarkable wise he succeeds in combining music for practical liturgical use with the highest artistic aspirations. Especially the Missa de Angelis, composed in 1979 and including congregational song, impressively demonstrates this fact. Janca’s works lend themselves to performance – by no means the rule for contemporary composers. And they are very popular – not only in Catholic parish communities.
The Missa de Angelis employs a late medieval Mass with a Credo supplement from the seventeenth century as its source. From the Kyrie-Introitus to the Ite missa est it perfectly fulfills all the liturgical requirements, and the option including choral song in praise of God in the parts of the Ordinary intended for the congregation makes this work extremely attractive. The organ part is very demanding and also holds in store just the right prelude and postlude. Janca’s choral compositional style is thoroughly modern; passages of one to four voices develop a colorful picture enriched by spoken textual segments.
It is also clearly audible that Janca appreciates more animated rhythms. His arrangement of the triumphant chorale “Großer Gott, wir loben dich” reflects this fact already in its title: “A German Te Deum between Boogie and Waltz.” And jazz is also a source of inspiration in the four preludes for modern church hymns recorded here. The “Sortie über ‘O du fröhliche’” offers the best of motion pictures – and gets us into the Christmas spirit, no matter the season!
Janca is now over eighty years old and traces his roots to Gdansk. During the 1950s he resided in the West in order to study with Marcel Dupré. Ruben Stumm, the Regensburg Cathedral Organist, plays the organ works at Janca’s “home church” in Tübingen, and the Opus Vocale Choir of Berlin interprets the Missa with vigorous participation by the Karl Foster Choir in the role of the “congregation.” Volker Hedtfeld conducts the performance, with support from Heiko Holtmeier on the organ.