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Ingenuin MOLITOR (c1610 - 1669): "Motetten (Innsbruck 1668)"

vita & anima; La Dolcezza

rec: May 31, 2010 (live), Bozen (Austria), Franziskanerkirche/June 1, 2010 (live), Burgeis (Vinschgau, Austria), Benediktinerstift Marienberg (Klosterkirche)a; May 12 - 13, 2012, Innsbruck, Priesterseminar (church)b
Musikmuseum - CD 13014 (© 2012) (59'56")
Liner-notes: E/D; lyrics - translations: E/D
Cover & track-list

Ingenuin MOLITOR: Ave virginum gemmab [2]; Bonum est confiteri Dominob [2]; Canzonabb [2]; Canzona IIa [2]; Canzona IIIa [3]; Canzona Va [2]; Ego dixi in abundantia meab [2]; Exaltabo te, Deus meusb [2]; Faelices Sanctib [2]; Magnificate Dominum mecumb [2]; O animab [2]; Johann STADLMAYR (1575?-1648): Canzon in a minorb [1]; Bernardin WOLK (?-1630): Canzon in Gb [1]

[1] Georg Victorinus, ed, Philomela coelestis, 1624; [2] Ingenuin Molitor, Fasciculus musicalis, 1668

Maria Erlacher, Gerlinde Sämann, soprano; Markus Flaig, bass; Veronika Skuplikb, Maite Larburu, Judith Steenbrinka, violin; Arno Jochem, viola da gamba, violone; Andreas Arend, theorbo; Peter Waldner, organ (solo bb)

Only last year I became acquainted with the oeuvre of Ingenuin Molitor, an Austrian composer of the 17th century. The ensemble vita & anima included six instrumental canzonas and two canzonas for organ in a programme of music by composers from Tirol. In my review I wrote that I was quite curious about his vocal oeuvre. I didn't know at the time that another disc was going to be released with some of his sacred concertos. They are from the same collection as the instrumental canzonas, and it is regrettable that three of these are also included here, especially as Fasciculus musicalis comprises 19 sacred concertos, of which we get here only seven.

Let us first turn our attention to Ingenuin Molitor who does not appear in New Grove. He was born in Habach in Swabia and was educated as an organist. His first position was that of organist at the Franciscan monastery in Bolzano. Here he spent almost his entire life as a monk. In 1669 he died and his obituary reads as follows: "In the year 1669 the venerable Father Ingenuin Molitor of Habach passed away in Bolzano: he who was novice master and vicar, and in life proved himself in devoutness, in his outstanding skill at playing instruments and in the art of composing melodiesm, surrendered himself to fate on 31st March, at the age of 58, in his 38th year in the Order."

Only one year before his death the collection of motets and canzonas which constitute the programme of this disc was printed in Innsbruck. The sacred concertos are written in the style which had become common at the time and had its origins in Italy. The scoring varies from one to three voices - two sopranos and bass -, two violins, viola da gamba or violone and basso continuo. The texts are mostly free poetry, although several of them are closely connected to biblical passages, such as Ego dixi in abundantia mea, based on verses from Psalm 29 (Vulgata). Here are also some pieces written for a saint, like St. Catherine (Ave virginum gemma).

In a way the writing and printing of this music is rather surprising. That is not because it is written in the Italian style: that was quite common in Austria which was under strong Italian influence. The reason is that this kind of music was not in line with the Franciscan ideal of simplicity, modesty and poverty. When more elaborate music came into existence at the start of the 17th century the Franciscans at first resisted its introduction into their monasteries. Only the singing of chants and the playing of the organ were tolerated. Gradually some elements of the new style were accepted, such as the basso continuo practice. In time soloists and other instruments than the organ made their appearance in the Franciscan monasteries. From this perspective one could consider these sacred concertos by Molitor as groundbreaking which marks their publication as an event of considerable historical importance.

Molitor had a good reputation as a musician and that is supported by the concertos recorded here as well as the canzonas taken from the earlier release. It seems that he was fully acquainted with the fashion of the time in Italy in setting a text to music in such a way that the content is musicaly illustrated. He regularly uses musical figures to single out a specific passage. These sacred concertos are declamatory in character, and for instance in O anima we find episodes of an almost recitativic nature in which the singer has to adapt the rhythm to the text. Interesting is also the Canzona from the Brixner Orgelbuch which opens with a chromatic descending figure which regularly returns.

The programme is extended with two instrumental works by Johann Stadlmayr and Bernardin Wolk. The former was for many years Kapellmeister at the court of Archduke Leopold V in Innsbruck. He had a great influence on the style of composing in Austria in his time. Wolk played an important role in music life in Innsbruck and was court organist from 1624 until his death in 1630. Only two compositions from his pen have survived, the canzona recorded here and an organ piece.

These are pretty much ideal performances. The three vocal soloists are seasoned interpreters of this kind of music, and thanks to their articulation and their understanding of the text the content is effectively communicated. The instruments are fully integrated in these concertos and frequently take part in the proceedings on an equal footing. The only point of criticism could be that the dynamic accents could be a little stronger which would make these performances more rhetorical in character. Questionable is also the Italian pronunciation of Latin.

It is good to see that the liner-notes and the lyrics are also available in English translations. That shows that this production is not only directed at the German-speaking market but at an international audience. Molitor's music certainly deserves that.

Johan van Veen (© 2014)

Relevant links:

Musikland Tirol
vita & anima

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