Christmas in Leipzig
Sony Music 19075992622. 75’09
Schelle Machet die Tore weit
Kuhnau Magnificat in C
Bach Magnificat in E flat, BWV243a
The three composers represented on this recording from Solomon’s Knot were successive Kantor’s of Leipzig’s Thomaskirche between 1677 to Bach’s death in 1750. Johann Schelle (1648-1701) was a former choirboy under Heinrich Schütz in Dresden and Thomaskirche Kantor from 1677 to his death in 1701. Johann Kuhnau (1660-1722) may have been a cousin of Johann Schelle, and certainly worked with him, becoming organist at St Thomas aged just 24 and still a law student. He succeeded Schelle as Kantor in 1701 and was Bach’s immediate predecessor. Bach took over in 1723, and stayed until his death in 1750. Continue reading
Jacob Praetorius & Melchior Schildt
Selected organ works
Ricercar RIC400. 68’05
Praetorius: Fantasia sopra Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt; Praeambulum in F;
Vater unser im Himmelreich; Von allen Menschen abgewandt
Schildt: Herr Christ, der einig Gottessohn; Magnificat 1. toni; Praeambulum in G
1467/1637 Stellwagen organ, Jacobikirche, Lûbeck
Jacob Praetorius (1586-1651) and Melchior Schildt (1592-1667) were two of the leading pupils of the Amsterdam organist Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck. Praetorius was the son of the Hamburg organist Hieronymus Praetorius whose own father, Jacob Praetorius the Elder (d. 1586) was also an organist/composer. The family are not related to Michael Praetorius. Like his forebears, Jacob Praetorious was organist of the Hamburg Petrikirche and was the teacher of Matthias Weckmann. Melchior Schildt also came from a family of musician, in his case from Hannover. After three years as court organist to the King of Denmark, he replaced his father as organist of the Marktkirche in 1629 and remained there until his death. Only six of his organ works have survived.
JS Bach, JC Bach & CPE Bach: Magnificats
Arcangelo, Jonathan Cohen
Hyperion CDA68157. 76’48
This recording has the same programme as the concert in St John’s, Smith Square in October 2015. The CD was recorded a few days after the concert, in the church of St Mary the Virgin and St Mary Magdalen in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, but has only recently been released. The acoustics of this large Gothic church (with its wide nave and tiny side aisles) are more generous than St John’s, Smith Square, giving an added bloom to the sound, although the spacing of the musical forces sometimes gives more of a sense of distance that the more compact London stage avoided. Unlike the concert performance, the CD opens with JS Bach’s 1733 reworking of his earlier E flat version, written for his first Christmas in Lübeck in 1723. It is given a forthright performance without the irritating gaps between movements that I mentioned in the concert review. Continue reading
Heinrich Scheidemann (c1595-1663)
Complete Organ Works
Vol 2: Magnificat Cycles (Ed. Klaus Beckmann)
128 pages • ISMN: 979-0-001-13660-0 • Softbound
Schott Music ED 9729
8 Magnificat Cycles; Anonymus: Chorale Fantasy (Magnificat VIII.toni)
Heinrich Scheidemann is one of the most interesting of the students of Sweelinck, the Amsterdam organist and teacher, who influenced many organists, particularly in Hamburg. His pupils helped to develop the important 17th century North German school of organ playing and composition that led eventually to Dietrich Buxtehude, a composer that the young Bach admired and travelled to hear. In this period the organists in the Hamburg churches had almost as much status as the preachers, and were expected to elaborate musically on many aspects of the Lutheran service. Scheidemann was organist of the Catherinenkirche in Hamburg. He taught his successor there, Reincken, and also possibly Buxtehude. Continue reading
Blanchard: Magnificat à la Chapelle Royale
Trois motets à grand chœur
Chœur de chambre Les Eléments, Orchestra Les Passions, Jean-Marc Andrieu
Ligia: Lidi 020231-16, 77’00
Antoine Blanchard: Magnificat (1741), De Profundis (1740), In exitu Israel (1749)
Antoine Blanchard (1696-1770) is a rather shadowy figure in French musical history. There is far more information in Bernadette Lespinard’s detailed CD notes than can be found in other source that I could find on the internet in English. He is sometimes given the additional first names of Esprit-Joseph, although he never used them himself. He was a choirboy in the Saint-Sauveur Cathedral in Aix-en-Provence, and became a cleric from about 18. Transgression of the rules led to his departure from this role after only one year. He then moved to Marseilles as director of music at Saint-Victor, although he spent two years away in Toulon, detained there by the plague. Whilst building up his contacts in Paris, he worked in the choir school at Amiens Cathedral, eventually getting a Royal appointment in the Versailles Musique de la Chapelle in 1738.
The three large-scale motets à grand chœur recorded here (two are world première recordings) represent the music of the Court Chapel of Louis XV in the 1740s. Shorn of some of the daintiness and delicacy of the high baroque, Continue reading
Josquin’s Miserere and the Savonarolan Legacy
Magnificat, Philip Cave
Linn CKD517. 2 CDs. 84’00.
Josquin des Prez: Miserere mei, Deus; Palestrina; Tribularer, si nescirem; Le Jeune; Tristitia obsedit me; Lassus: Infelix ego; Lhéritier: Miserere mei, Domine; Gombert: In te, Domine, speravi; Clemens non Papa: Tristitia obsedit me; Byrd: Infelix ego.
Magnificat vocal ensemble celebrate their 25th anniversary with this CD of extraordinarily powerful large-scale polyphonic works by Renaissance masters, all influenced by the equally extraordinary Italian Dominican friar and prophet, Girolamo Savonarola. His rather alarming prophesies (including declaring Florence to be the ‘New Jerusalem’, the destruction of all things secular, and a biblical flood), his denouncement of the Medicis, clerical corruption, and the exploitation of the poor, together with his extreme puritanical views (resulting in the Bonfire of the Vanities) led, not surprisingly, to his getting himself caught up in Italian and Papal politics.
The Duke of Ferrara, of the Ferrara d’Este family, was a supporter of Savonarola. After his execution, the Duke asked his newly appointed composer, Continue reading
Christmas in Leipzig
St John’s, Smith Sq. 21 December 2015
Schelle: Machet die Tore weit; Kuhnau: Magnificat; Bach: Magnificat in E flat (BWV243a).
Returning for their fifth visit to the St John’s, Smith Square Christmas Festival, the Solomon’s Knot Baroque Collective presented a concert based on Advent and Christmas music from Leipzig, with pieces by the three successive Thomaskantor’s. The seating in St John’s was reconfigured from the usual facing-the-stage layout to one where the orchestra and choir were to one side, projecting about two-thirds of the way into the floor space, with the audience arranged on three sides. This was undoubtedly excellent for about one-third of the audience who found themselves sitting directly in front of them, but most of the audience had only a side (or a rear-end view) of the performers. Continue reading
Magnificat: Weihnachtliche Orgelmusik
Markus Eberhardt (organ),
Schola Gregoriana des Consortium musicum Passau
Cornetto-Verlag COR10043. 67’38
Music by Fischer, Muffat, Zipoli, Kobrich, Eberlin, Schmid, Murschhauser, Kindermann and 16th century Tabulatures.
This CD combines three threads. Firstly, examples of alternatim settings of the Magnificat – where the plainchant choir and organ sing and play alternate verses, a tradition dating from the late Medieval period through to the late Baroque). Then late 16th century intabulations of choral settings and variations and, thirdly, examples of the organ pastorella, a popular Christmas musical theme in southern Europe, representing the shepherds away the birth of Jesus, and often including well-known Christmas melodies such as the Resonet in laudibus.
The organ is the 1737 Baumeister organ in the former collegiate church of Maihingen, near Nördlingen, Germany. It seems to have d the former monastery was secularised in 1803 and became the chapel of a princely establishment. When it was restored in 1990, it was found to have retained its meantone temperament. For the technically minded, it has two manuals and pedals (11/7/4) with a short and broken octave. It is typical of southern German organs of the 18th century, with no reeds but a wide range of 8′ foundations stops (eight of the 18 manuals stops are at 8′ pitch), which can (and, indeed, should) be combined to form different tone colours. The registrations used are given in the liner notes, and include such distinctive sounds as the Quintaton, Selecinal and Cythara stops. There is only a brief summary of the German text translated into English. Continue reading
Compère: Magnificat, Motets and Chansons
Hyperion CDA68069. 68’22
Loyset Compère is not as well-known as he deserves to be, and this recording could be the means by which his (recently re-assessed) place in musical history is acknowledged. The key to the re-assessment is the slightly embarrassing realisation that the Josquin that musicologists assumed to have been born in 1440 was not, in fact, Josquin des Prez, but another Josquin altogether. That makes Josquin des Prez around 10 years younger than thought. Similar birth date realignment concerning Obrecht and Agricola also make them younger than first thought. As David Fallows explains in his comprehensive programme notes, this leaves Loyset Compère as one of the earliest composers in the imitative style, now known to be later developed, rather than instigated, by Josquin and others. Continue reading