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"Ecclesia triumphans - Music for Easter, Pentecost and Corpus Christi"

Consortium musicum Passau
Dir: Markus Eberhardt

rec: May 14 - 17, 2015, Passaua; August 7, 2015, Brunnenthal, Wallfahrtskirche Maria Himmelfahrtb
Cornetto - COR10044 (© 2015) (66'11")
Liner-notes: E/D; lyrics (partly) - translations: D
Cover & track-list

Anton ESTENDORFFER (1670-1711): Ciaccona 5. tonib; Paul I ESTERHÁZY (1635-1713): Surrexit Christus hodiea; Urban LOTH (c1580-1636): Spiritus Sancti gratiaa; Rupert Ignaz MAYR (1646-1712): Wehmüthiges Trauer-Gedichta; Johann Baptist PEYER (c1678-1733): Fuga sopra Alleluiab; Ferdinand Tobias RICHTER (1651-1711): Altera Bethlehem sive Domus panisa; Michael TONSOR (c1540-1607): Veni creator spiritusb; Pavel Joseph VEJVANOVSKY (1640-1693): Missa Salvatoris (Kyrie; Agnus Dei)a

Anna Roider, soprano; Barbara Schreiner, contralto; Mario Eckmüller, tenor; Martin Bender, bass
Klaus Albrecht, Monika Straßer, violin; ' Gertrud Booker-Goldberg, viola da gamba; Irmtraud Weispfenning, viola da gamba, cello; Magdalena Lohr, viola da gamba, violone; Daniel Obtmeier, Markus Eberhardt (solob), organ
Choir of the Consortium musicum Passau

Music from Austria written in the 17th and early 18th centuries which is performed today mostly in one way or the other is connected to the imperial court in Vienna. It played a key role in music life and employed some of the best performers and composers of the time. The music which is included in the present disc is different: some of the pieces refer to the Habsburg rule but most of them were not specifically written for the court.

Its central subject is rather the religious movement which aimed at the restoration of the dominance of the Catholic Church in Europe, known as the Counter Reformation. The Jesuits played a key role in this movement; they used every possible means to achieve the aims of the Counter Reformation, including music. The main work in the programme bears witness to that. Altera Bethlehem sive Domus panis by Ferdinand Tobias Richter, is a specimen of a specific genre, known as Jesuit drama. Rupert Ignaz Mayr, who is also represented on this disc, composed a number of 'school operas' for the Jesuit college in Munich which are comparable to the Jesuit drama by Richter. The latter was first performed during the procession of the Jesuits of Linz on the Sunday after Corpus Christi in 1684. It is not connected to the struggle with the adherents of the Reformation but deals with the threat of the Turks.

In 1683 Vienna was under the threat of the Ottoman armies. Johann Caspar Kerll, who was organist at the imperial court since 1677, composed his Missa In fletu solatium obsidionis Viennensis during the siege. It is a mass in troubled times, reflected by many dissonants and frequent chromaticism. In September of 1683 the Ottoman army was defeated, only a week before the city's capture. Richter's drama refers to this event. "The main subject is the demand for the renewed alliance between the dynasty of Austria and the holy Eucharist, which people believed to be responsible for the victory over the Ottoman army", the liner-notes to this disc say. It consists of a series of recitatives, arias and duets and closes with a fugal chorus on the text Te Deum laudamus. The characters are various allegorical figures, such as Genius Othomanicus and Austria as symbols of the two nations, but also virtues like Pietas (piety) and Industria (diligence).

The programme opens and closes respectively with the Kyrie and Agnus Dei from the Missa Salvatoris by Vejvanovsky who was a key figure in Kremsier, where Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber also worked for several years and whose position as conductor of the choir at St Moritz Vejvnovsky took over when Biber moved to Innsbruck. His works were widely disseminated in Austria. Other composers also didn't work in Austria but in nearby Bavaria: Urban Loth worked in Passau (where later Georg Muffat would be active) and he was one of the first north of the Alps who adopted the modern Italian concertante style. Spiritus Sancti gratia, a piece for Pentecost, is scored for a solo voice and bc; every phrase is repeated by the tutti. Pál Esterházy was a composer, poet and patron of the arts. He received his education at a Jesuit school and appeared in school dramas of the type mentioned above. In 1711 he published a collection of 55 sacred cantatas; Surrexit Christus hodie is for Easter and scored for soprano and bc, with a refrain for chorus and ritornellos for the strings. The name of Mayr has already been mentioned. He composed an elegy on the death of Bishop Marquard II of Eichstätt, who was an important supporter of the arts. The Wehmüthiges Trauer-Gedicht juxtaposes the joy of heavenly life and the dirt of life on earth. This piece is scored for a solo voice (tenor) with strings playing the ritornellos.

In addition to the vocal items we hear some organ pieces. Johann Baptist Peyer (or Beyer) was probably educated at the monastery of Heiligenkreuz. For most of his life he was connected to the imperial court in Vienna. The Fuga sopra Alleluia is dominated by counterpoint which was held in high esteem at the Viennese court until well into the 18th century. It is not fundamentally different from the much older Veni creator spiritus by Michael Tonsor, a German composer born in Ingolstadt who worked in Dinkelsbühl in Bavaria. His Veni creator spiritus is a specimen of the stile antico. Anton Estendorffer worked at a monastery near Passau. The Ciaccona 5. toni is based on one of the most popular bassi ostinati of the baroque era.

These pieces are played at the organ in the Pfarrkirche Maria Himmelfahrt in Brunnenthal in Upper Austria. It dates from 1715 and has been preserved nearly in its original state. Markus Eberhardt delivers fine performances of these organ works. The vocal works are performed pretty well too; I like the voices of the four soloists who give good performances of their respective parts. I am a little less enthusiastic about the instrumental parts. They are well played but not always very subtle. There are some rough edges and the sound is not very polished. The rather close miking doesn't make things better.

That said, the repertoire is very interesting and this disc once again shows that there is still much to be discovered. There is really no reason why the same repertoire should be recorded umpty times. Markus Eberhardt deserves an A for his choice of repertoire.

Johan van Veen (© 2017)

Relevant links:

Consortium musicum Passau

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