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"Haydn ...out of Hainburg"

Anton Holzapfel, organ
dolce risonanza
Dir: Florian Wieninger

rec: Sept 15, 17, 18, 25 & 26, 2010, Hainburg, Stadtpfarrkirche
Gramola - 98898 (© 2011) (69'54")
Liner-notes: E/D; lyrics - translations: E/D
Cover & track-list

Johann Georg ALBRECHTSBERGER (1736-1809): Prelude and fugue in C, op. 6,2; Johann Joseph FUX (1660-1741): Sonata VI (K 366), arr for organ; Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809): Salve Regina a 4 voci ma Soli in g minor (H XXIIIb,2)abcd; Stücke für die Flötenuhr (H XIX): Andante in C (H XIX,12); Menuet in C (H XIX,14); Vivace in C (H XIX,13); Johann Michael HAYDN (1737-1806): Ah! Jesu recipe, Aria de Passione Domini et Adventu (MH 131)a; Präludium, Versetten und Cadenza zum Magnificat V. toni (MH 176)e; Johann Georg REUTTER (1708-1772): Concerto per l'organo con 2 violini e basso

Source: Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, 6 Fughe e preludie, op.6, c1787

Barbara Fink, sopranoa; Ida Aldrian, contraltob; Daniel Johannsen, tenorc; Klemens Sander, bassd; Gundula Hagmüller, Lucia Froihofer, violin; Eva Neunhäuserer, viola; Florian Wieninger, contra-violon
[scholae] Benno Hütter, Alex Braun, Anton Holzapfel, Florian Wieninger

It seems unlikely that the name Hainburg will ring a bell with any music lover unless he has a special interest in Joseph Haydn. It was the town where he received his first serious musical education from Johann Matthias Franck, the school headmaster and Haydn's father's cousin by marriage. Haydn later expressed his experiences thus: "Even in his grave, I still thank this man for teaching me so much, even though in the process I received more beatings than food". It was here that Johann Georg Reutter, the Kapellmeister of the Stephansdom in Vienna, heard him sing. He decided to take him to Vienna and here Haydn became one of the choristers.

This disc centres around the role of the organ in the Roman-Catholic liturgy at the end of the 18th century in southern Germany and Austria. At that time the role of the organ was greatly reduced. As a result it was mostly played by amateurs, and few of the best composers of the time felt any incentive to write organ music. Music for organ alone was mostly restricted to preludes and fugues which were usually improvised. As a specimen of this genre we hear the Preludium et fuga in C by Albrechtsberger. He was an important figure in Vienna, as a composer but also as a teacher and theorist. Joseph Haydn, for instance, regarded him the world's best teacher of composition. As an organist he also was highly regarded.
Another important theorist was Johann Joseph Fux. His Gradus ad Parnassum was thoroughly studied by Haydn who also used it in his own teaching. The Sonata VI was originally a piece of chamber music but transcribed by Fux himself for organ. Such intabulations of instrumental or vocal pieces were also common in the liturgy.
The Präludium, Versetten und Cadenza zum Magnificat V. toni by Michael Haydn are an example of the alternatim practice: the verses are alternately sung in plainchant and played at the organ.

The rest - and largest part - of the programme is devoted to the organ as part of an instrumental ensemble in which it either plays the bass part or takes a concertante role. Ah! Jesu recipe is scored for soprano, organ, two violins and bass. It is a long aria of almost 15 minutes in two sections: ABA. It has the dacapo structure of the baroque opera, but stylistically it is much more restrained. The organ plays an important role, for instance in the instrumental introduction, almost like in an organ concerto.

The Salve Regina in G by Joseph Haydn is again a piece with a concertante organ part. It is also interesting in regard to performance practice as its title indicates that it should be sung by four solo voices rather than a 4-part choir. In his liner-notes Florian Wieninger points out that this was rather the rule than the the exception in southern Germany and Austria at the time. Even larger churches - like the Stephansdom - had less singers and instrumentalists at their disposal than we are inclined to think. Performances with small ensembles were not only a result of limited resources, though. "Figural music, in particular, was deliberately cast with soloists, above all as far as the singers were concerned. The prevailing ideal was the system of concerto artists, i.e. soloists singing the entire piece, and ripieni, a further individually manned and spatially separated ensemble." Haydn's indication of the scoring seems to exclude the use of ripienists.

The disc closes with the Concerto per l'organo con 2 violini e basso by Johann Georg Reutter. For a long time instrumental music played an important role in the Roman-Catholic liturgy. In the 18th century many pieces for organ and instruments were written for liturgical use. Mozart's sonatas, for instance, are specimens of pieces to be played after the Epistle. Organ concertos could be played instead of the Offertory. "The sobriety of the Age of Enlightenment and the liturgical reforms of Josephinism in strange interaction did not ban instrumental music in the last quarter of the 18th century, but lost all understanding for it. Church sonatas now found their way into secular music", Otto Biba writes in the booklet. There was little use for organ concertos outside the church, though. Other venues, like concert halls, usually didn't have an organ. Therefore organ concertos were often published as concertos for harpsichord or fortepiano. But the range of the solo parts indicate that they were originally conceived for the organ. They mostly don't extend the d''' which was the top note on most organs of the time; harpsichords and fortepianos had a larger compass. The article on Johann Georg Reutter in New Grove mentions two harpsichord concertos in the worklist. The editors have not recognized that these are in fact organ concertos, without any doubt written for performance in the Stephansdom in Vienna, where Reutter worked as Kapellmeister until his death in 1772.

One issue in regard to the performance practice needs to be mentioned. In southern Germany and Austria it was not the cello which played the bass, but rather the violone. That is also the case in this recording.

From every point of view this is a most intriguing recording. It pays attention to the role of the organ in the liturgy at the end of the 18th century, but also to the performance practice on a wider level. The performances are just excellent. The Salve Regina is sung by four fine voices which blend perfectly, resulting in a cohesive sound. The articulation is crisp and clear and the dynamics well controlled. Their interpretation is expressive and so is Barbara Fink's performance of Michael Haydn's aria. She adds cadenzas without being too operatic. Anton Holzapfel delivers lively readings of the organ parts, and the ensemble is acting on the same high level.

To sum up, for historical and musical reasons this disc is highly recommendable.

Johan van Veen (© 2012)

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