Animam gementem cano

Animam gementem cano
Tuma – Stabat Mater; Biber – Requiem
Pluto-Ensemble, Hathor Consort
Marnix De Cat, Romina Lischka
Ramee RAM1914. 61’34

Animam gementem cano: Tuma - Stabat Mater; Biber - Requiem | Ramee RAM1914

Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704) Requiem in F minor
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (c1620-1680) Sonata IX in G
Andreas Christophorus Clamer (1633-1701) Partita I in E minor
Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber Sonata VIII à 5 in G
František Ignác Antonín Tůma (1704-1774) Stabat mater in G minor

The Pluto-Ensemble was founded by Marnix De Cat to “perform music based on Truth of the human being, with a message of beauty and joy”. It takes its name from the planet Pluto, “the third mistery-planet of the Aquarius-era.  After Uranus and Neptunus, influencing the heart and the mind, Pluto is the re-creator of man as a higher being”. Their companions for this recording of music from Hapsburg Vienna and Salzburg is the Hathor Consort (directed by Romina Lischka) takes its name from the Egyptian mother goddess Hathor.

Biber’s Requiem in F minor dates from around 1692 and is found in the archives of Salzburg Cathedral. It is a work of considerable power, helped by some expressive textural allusions, for example, in the wonderfully lively Osanna, the moving Benedictus and the concludiong fugal Agnus Dei. Written for five solo voices doubled by chorus voices. The instrumental forces of a solo violin together with another violin, two violas da gamba, three trombones and a continuo of violone and organ both support the singers or add their own contributions.

There are a number of ways to combine two large-scale choral works with three instrumental pieces. On this recording, all three of the latter are grouped together in the middle. Schmelzer’s Sonata IX in G is in the continuos sequence of movements typical of the stylus phantasticus. It’s opening continues the mood of the Biber Requiem. Andreas Christophorus Clamer is not as well known as the other two composer. His father was Court Kappelmeister in Salzburg, while Andreas was Master of the Choristers at the Cathedral. Before the jump to the later style of Tůma’s Stabat mater in G minor, we hear Biber’s Sonata VIII à 5 in G, reflecting the style of his probably teacher, Schmelzer.

Little is known about František Ignác Antonín Tůma. Of Bohemian birth, he worked in various prominent settings in Prague and Vienna. His Stabat mater in G minor was discover by Marnix De Cat in the library of Ottobeuren Abbey. It was first performed in 1748, a couple of generations after Biber’s Requiem. As in the latter work, a solo violin has a prominent role, here, and in the instrumental pieces, played supurbly by Sophie Gent. The more advanced use of chromatic harmony sets it apart from Biber, although the musical style is more in keeping with the earlier style than the by-then flourishing Baroque. It finishes with a grand fugue.

It was recorded in the Église Notre-Dame de la Nativité in Gedinne, Belgium. using the impressive 2002 organ by Dominique Thomas for the continuo. The video of the recording shows the circular layout of the performers, which must have helped to bring about the fine sense of consort. The recording emphasises the warmth and depth of the consort, helped by using the violone rather than a cello as the bass string instrument.