musica Dei donum

CD reviews

Reichardus MANGON (c1580 - ?): "Das Hohe Lied Salomonis"

Chamber Choir of the Aachener Bachverein (Hoite Pruiksma); Barocco Loco
Dir: Fritz Heller

rec: May 6 - 7, 2002 / July 14 - 16, 2003, Aix (G), Salvatorkirche
Cantabile - 2404 (© 2005) (49'02")

Saskia van der Wel, Marian van der Heide, soprano; Wolfgang Kistner, alto; Harry Geraerts, Lothar Blum, tenor; Matthias Gerchen, bass; Fritz Heller, cornetto; Detlef Reimers, Cas Gevers, trombone; Arwen Bouw, tenor violin; Cordula Cordes, viola da gamba; Jennifer Harrison, dulcian, spinet; Andrea Baur, Philippe Malfeyt, chitarrone; Henny Heikens, Christoph Lehmann, organ

(Source: Cantica Canticorum Salomonis. Erster Theil, 1609)

The New Grove, one of the world's most renowned music encyclopedias, does have an entry for a composer with the name 'Mangon': Johannes, a Flemish composer of religious polyphony, who lived from about 1525 to 1578. Not only isn't there an entry for his son, Reichardus, in the article about his father isn't even a hint about his son being a composer or a musician. It is this son who is the composer of a series of motets on texts of the Song of Songs which have been recorded on this disc.

Johannes Mangon worked in Liège and was Kapellmeister in Aix-la-Chapelle from 1567 to 1577. Here Reichardus was born around 1580. Around 1600 he moved to the duchy of Württemberg, where he apparently stayed the rest of his life. The year of his death is unknown. In Württemberg he worked as organist in Tübingen and received the title of court organist. Duke Johann Friedrich spent regularly some time in Tübingen, and as a result close ties developed between that city and the court in Stuttgart. The court chapel in Stuttgart was directed by Leonhard Lechner from 1594 to 1606, who had developed into one of Germany's most regarded composers.

Reichardus Mangon's oeuvre - or at least what has been left of it - is very small: apart from this collection of motets only one occasional piece has come down to us. The fact that the title contains the addition 'Erster Theil' means that at least another volume was planned. According to Barbara Neumeier in the programme notes he had planned to set the complete Song of Songs to music. Whether next volumes have been lost or whether he has never composed any other motets on these texts is not known.

The first volume contains 16 motets on the first two chapters of the Song of Songs, eight for every chapter. They are set for 4 to 8 voices: each half start with some 8-part motets and then the number of voices is gradually reduced; both halves end with a motet in 4 parts. There is no reference to the way these motets should be performed, so here the then common performance practice was followed, meaning that the vocal scoring varies from one voice per part to full choir, with instruments either playing colla parte or replacing some of the voices. As a result a variety in colours as well as dynamics is realised.

The variety in these motets is also the result of Mangon's style of composing. In order to express the meaning of the texts Mangon makes use of word-painting as well as specific intervals. Variety is also created by the use of various rhythms and the alternation of polyphony and homophony.

These motets are splendid pieces and one wonders why they have never been recorded before. Fortunately both the choir and the ensemble give excellent performances, which do full justice to the variety and colourful nature of Mangon's composition. The diction and articulation, rhythmic precision and the realisation of dynamic contrasts are very impressive. I strongly recommend this disc.

Johan van Veen (© 2007)

Relevant links:


CD Reviews