VI. The Berliner Messe (Berlin Mass) 1. Kyrie

3. Erster and Zweiter Alleluiavers

Pärt’s Erster Alleluiavers and Zweiter Alleluiavers are two of the most significant sections of the Berliner Messe. While being the shortest (recorded versions of these two sections often happen to be only about 1 minute each in length), they encompass all aspects of Pärt’s mysterious, enchanting sound, not to mention all of his techniques of compositional approach that are recycled throughout the Mass. They also serve as the turning point in the overall key scheme of the mass. Whereas the Kyrie and Gloria were set in what we perceive as a “G Aeolian” area, Pärt’s usage of the leading-tone in the Gloria sets the stage for the listener to move to the “G Ionian” realm in the Erster Alleluiavers.

This tonality is later moved to an “E Aeolian” area in the Zweiter Alleluiavers (or G major moving to the relative E minor.) This gives the listener a sense of spiritual uplifting, only to coincide with the text:

Alleluia. Emitte Spiritum tuum, et creabuntur et renovabis faciem terrae. Alleluia.

In English translation:

Alleluia. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth. Alleluia.

The liturgical text in the Erster Alleluiavers alludes to the sense of a “renewal” (in the text itself, a renewal of the “face of the Earth.”) A correlation can be made between the textual description of renewal, and the movement to a new modal area that had previously not been explored in the Berliner Messe.

Example 15a, Arvo Pärt, “Berliner Messe”, Erster Alleluiavers, Full Score

The Erster Alleluiavers, depicted above, utilizes homorhythmic passages of 4-part writing for the “Alleluia” text. In the alto voice, the motif heard consists of “3-2-1-7-1”, which is then referred to in the solo tenor passage. The solo tenor passage happens to be unique in several ways, in that it is no longer functioning as a tintinnabulating voice. In fact, it functions as the opposite; the tenor voice is now moving in a stepwise, diatonic manner, a role similar to the one played by the alto and bass voices in the previous two sections. There is a sonorous, chant-like quality to Pärt’s single voice writing, hovering around a centric “G” pitch, but not functioning as an axis as it did in the Gloria;

this writing is much more focused on the concept of recycling motivic ideas. For the text “et creabuntur”, Pärt re-uses the “3-2-1-7-1” motif heard in the altos, and foreshadows the soprano’s

motif of “3-4-5-6-5”, heard in the last measure. Perhaps there can be a connection made between the texts “creabuntur (creation) and renovabis (renewal)” and the shift of harmonic design that Pärt happens to create in the very last measure: By reassigning the tintinnabulating roles to the alto and bass voices, and giving the stepwise, diatonic lines to the soprano and tenor voices. It is, in fact, a renewal of Pärt’s signature melodic writing.

The Zweiter Alleluiavers functions quite similar to the Erster Alleluiavers, only that it serves an equally opposite role: by the end of the Zweiter Alleluiavers, Pärt returns the assigned roles of

stepwise motion or tintinnabulating lines to their original voices. He accomplishes this flawlessly by reusing the “3-4-5-6-5” and “3-2-1-7-1” motifs, by transposition, in the soprano and tenor voices.

Pärt also visits “E Aeolian”, a new modal area not previously explored yet in the Berliner Messe, however directly linked to G Ionian, as it is the relative minor scale.

Example 15b, Arvo Pärt, “Berliner Messe”, Zweiter Alleluiavers, Full Score

The latin text of the Zweiter Alleluiavers is as follows:

Alleluia. Veni Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium: et tui amoris in ei ignem accende.


In English translation:

Alleluia. Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful: and kindle in them the fire of Thy love. Alleluia.

Pärt makes use of the “3-4-5-6-5” and “3-2-1-7-1” motifs, however mostly in truncated form. The only exception to this is the completion of the “3-4-5-6-5” motif is over the text

“fidelium”. There might be a connection between the inferred “faithfulness” of completing the “3-4-5-6-5” motif, and the text itself, but this is more subjective than objective, and may be more related

to text setting and creating a feeling of cadence by ending on a note of the tintinnabulating triad, as opposed to a less strong note. Pärt does begin to end phrases on weaker notes, such as the constant use of “7” as a cadential note (“Spiritus” and “accende” both end on “7”), and the lingering feeling of irresolution with the final “Alleluia”.

In both of the Erster and Zweiter passages, Pärt incorporates a new approach to the tintinnabulation technique not seen previously in the Mass. In the 2nd and 3rd “Alleluias” of each section, Pärt breaks away from the H135 / H153 tintinnabulation, and reaches for the threshold technique as described earlier. This creates a specific scale of dyads (if we are looking at only two voices; 3 or 4 voices would create other options), which Pärt uses to create stressed and unstressed syllables, or tension and release.

Example 15c, Arvo Pärt, “Berliner Messe”, Erster Alleluiavers, Threshold Tintinnabulation, Alto/Soprano Voices

This creates tension upon the stressed 2nd note of the syllable “lu” in “Alleluia”, as the listener hears the “F” in the altos against the “G” in the sopranos (or in the final “Alleluia”, the “D” against the “E” respectively.) If the harmony of all 4 voices is fleshed out, we find that this particular voicing yields (from bottom to top): “A/B/F/G” (which resolves to “B/D/G/B” in the second “Alleluia”), or

“D/G/D/E” to “D/F/B/D” in the 3rd and final “Alleluia”. These stressed voicings, in the realm of post-tonal analysis, can be analyzed as having a tonal function by voice leading (or perhaps added notes to dominant and tonic chords), but it is far more important to interpret them from a broader,

psychological tension/release perspective. In that sense, they are merely clusters of particular notes, derivative of a given process, that resolve according to this process, and create a feeling of cadence.

Pärt re-uses this technique in the Zweiter Alleluiavers, however due to the modal change and the octave displacement and re-voicing of the SATB voices, the process yields completely different harmonies.

Example 15d, Arvo Pärt, “Berliner Messe”, Zweiter Alleluiavers, Threshold Tintinnabulation, Alto/Soprano Voices

This new approach to tintinnabulation sets the stage for the next sections of the Berliner Messe to explore. From a broader scope, one could say that both the H135 / H153 approach and the

“threshold” approach are simply different processes of a larger minimalist stream of thought, but this is arguable, and subjectively, one may feel that Pärt is much more detailed than that in his line of thinking. However, Pärt is not naïve to this principle, and perhaps has considered it on a much more grand scale of compositional technique. Regardless, the results are unbelievably beautiful to hear.

In document Two Tangled Golden Threads Arvo Part's Tintinnabulation and Berliner Messe - John Forrestal (2011) (Page 34-39)