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Marco Gioseppe PERANDA (c1625 - 1675): "Sacred music from Dresden"

Abendmusiken Basel
Dir: Jörg-Andreas Bötticher

rec: July 9 - 12, 2018, Müllheim/Baden (D), Martinskirche
Coviello Classics - COV 91904 (© 2018) (75'45")
Liner-notes: E/D; lyrics - translations: E/D
Cover & track-list

Vincenzo ALBRICI (1631-1687): Sinfonia à 2; Marco Gioseppe PERANDA: Accurrite gentes; Fasciculus myrrhae; Factum est proelium; Missa in a minor; Repleti sunt omnes; Timor et tremor; David POHLE (1624-1695): Sonata à 6

Miriam Feuersinger, María Cristina Kiehr, soprano; Alex Potter, alto; Raphael Höhn, Jakob Pilgram, tenor; Markus Flaig, bass; Bork-Frithjof Smith, Gebhard David, cornett; Simen Van Mechelen, Catherine Motuz, Joost Swinkels, sackbut; Katharina Heutjer, Regula Keller, violin; Katharina Bopp, viola; Brian Franklin, Thomas Goetschel, viola da gamba; Silke Gwendolyn Schulze, bassoon; Matthias Müller, violone; Julian Behr, theorbo; Christoph Anzböck, harpsichord; Jörg-Andreas Böttcher, organ

People who once acted as reformers, often find it hard to accept that time goes on. Take Heinrich Schütz. He was one of the first composers in Germany who adopted the Venetian cori spezzati technique, and later embraced the monodic style. However, towards the end of his life he increasingly worried about the stylistic changes which gradually replaced many things he held dear. One of the earliest signs of this was the publication of his Geistliche Chor-Music. In the preface he emphasized the importance of counterpoint as the foundation of music. The present disc shows that he was not wrong in expecting things to change.

Marco Gioseppe Peranda was born around 1625 in Rome or Macerata, and may have been a pupil of Giacomo Carissimi in Rome. Ironically, so was Christoph Bernhard, one of Schütz's favourite pupils, who took Peranda with him when he returned to Dresden between 1651 and 1656. Here he entered the service of Johann Georg II, the heir of the electorate, as an alto singer. In 1656 his chapel and the court chapel were joined. By 1661 Peranda was appointed vice-Kapellmeister and in 1663 he succeeded Vincenzo Albrici as Kapellmeister. In 1672 Schütz died, and Peranda was appointed Hofkapellmeister.

It was not only a matter of musical style which caused some worry among Schütz and those who supported him. Peranda was also a Catholic, and there were some suspicions that Johann Georg II had Catholic sympathies. According to Peter Wollny, in his liner-notes, those were not completely groundless. However, the court remained Lutheran, but Peranda never converted and remained Catholic.

The liner-notes include an interesting excerpt from the funeral sermon by Martin Geyer, the electoral senior court chaplain, written in 1672 at the occasion of Schütz's death. "Even in the church a brand-new manner of singing reigns, but extravagant, broken, dance-like, and not even in the least devout; it is more appropriate to the theatre and dance hall, than to the church (...). For what is this new hopping manner of singing other than a comoedia in which the singers are the acting persons, of whom now one, now two, now all appear together and speak all at one time with broken voices?" This could well reflect the way Schütz himself assessed the new style of composing and performing.

The pieces by Peranda included on this disc attest to this new style. The pieces are still written for an ensemble of singers and players. However, the emphasis is much more on the solo voices. In Schütz's music we find the term favoriti or coro favorito, "used to designate the members of a choir of soloists, as opposed to those of the cappella or ripieno choir" (New Grove). In Peranda's concerto Fasciculus myrrhae the scoring is indicated in a different way: it mentions the five solo voices and adds "5. voci in Ripieno". The starting point is the solo voice, the choir is an addition. In Schütz it is the other way around. And the difference shows in the pieces by Peranda performed here. Take the last piece, Factum est proelium, a concerto for St Michael. Here the episodes for solo voices dominate. After an instrumental introduction we first hear two solos for tenor and soprano respectively, then follows a section for six voices. Next are a solo for bass, representing Lucifer (the devil), a duet of the two sopranos and three solo episodes for tenor and alto respectively. The piece then ends with a tutti section. Compare this with the setting of a concerto for St Michael, Es erhub sich ein Streit, attributed to Schütz. It is basically written for an ensemble of voices and instruments, with short solo interventions. In Peranda's concertos the solo parts are also much more extended, with frequent repetition of words or phrases, not unlike the way the solo voice is treated in contemporary opera. Wollny also rightly mentions Carissimi as a source of inspiration for the likes of Peranda.

The programme opens with the Missa in a minor, comprising - as was customary in Lutheran Germany - of Kyrie and Gloria alone. In the Gloria the episode "Laudamus te, benedicimus te, adoramus te, glorificamus te" is set for solo voices, and one cannot but think here of Bach's Mass in b minor. It is probably no surprise that this Mass setting is one of the pieces of the 17th century that Bach performed in Weimar in 1715. It is also noteworthy that the Kyrie is largely homophonic.

The writing for solo voices allows Peranda to express the text through musical figures. Examples are passages in the solo sections of Timor et tremor (p.e. "timor et tremor" - weeping and wailing) and in Fasciculus myrrhae, whose text refers to the Song of Songs. This piece is not designated for a specific time of the ecclesiastical year. Others are, explicitly (Factum est proelium) or implicitly. The latter is the case with Repleti sunt omnes, which is for Pentecost: "All were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak". According to Wollny, Accurrite gentes is for Easter, but it seems that it could also be performed at Christmas as the manuscript says "Nativitate / De Resurrectione". It opens with a tutti section (ATB) on the text "Run, people, come, hasten, fly to shouts". Alto and tenor sing "To him let us sing (...) let us bring praises". Such texts fit into the spirit of Christmas. The third section is a solo for bass, acting as the vox Christi: "Come, all who eagerly desire me, you who labour and are burdened, and I will restore you". The closing tutti section then explicitly refers to Easter: "Therefore, fortunate ones, let us sing, and let us celebrate triumph to the risen Lord".

Peranda has become best known for his St Mark Passion, which was once attributed to Schütz. That is one of those pieces from his pen, in which he links up with the tradition established by the old master. His Missa in a minor is also rather well known, because Bach owned a copy of it and performed it. The other works are all first recordings. The attention given to his oeuvre by Abendmusiken Basel is well deserved, not only because they demonstrate the stylistic changes in the second half of the 17th century, but also because he was a fine composer in his own right. This disc is an important addition to the discography. The ensemble turns out to be an excellent advocate of Peranda's music. The solo parts are exquisitely performed by the six singers, who pay much attention to the text and the affetti. Their voices blend perfectly, with each other and with the instruments. The programme also includes two instrumental works, which are the instrumental counterparts of the vocal pieces, and reflect the modern Italian style of the time. These are given fine performances by the strings of the ensemble.

Johan van Veen (© 2019)

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