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"Musica Ferdinandea - Ein Fest für Kaiser Ferdinand I." (A Celebration for Emperor Ferdinand I)

Capella de la Torre
Dir: Katharina Bäuml

rec: March 13 - 15, 2012, Innsbruck, Kirche des Priesterseminars, Hofkircheab
Musikmuseum - CD 13015 (© 2013) (72'11")
Liner-notes: E/D; lyrics - translations: D
Cover & track-list

Arnold VON BRUCK (c1500-1554): Komm Heiliger Geist; Jacques BUUS (c1500-1565): Recercarea; Antonio DE CABEZÓN (1510-1566): Ancol que col partireb; Capella de la Torre: Fa una canzone (improvisation); Michael DEISS (c1552-?): Quis dabot oculis nostris a 4; Christian HOLLANDER (c1515-1568): Austria virtute aquilas a 8; Heinrich ISAAC (c1450-1517): Innsbruck ich muß dich lassen; Orlandus LASSUS (1532-1594): Tityre, tu patulae a 6; Pieter MAESSINS (c1505-1562): In dedicatione huius templi a 5; Alessandro OROLOGIO (c1550-1633): Intrada; Jacobus VAET (1529-1567): Missa Tityre, tu patulae a 6

Kai Wessel, alto; Achim Kleinlein, tenor; Matthias Gerchen, bass; Jeremy West, cornett; Katharina Bäuml, shawm; Hildegard Wippermann, shawm, dulcian; Regina Hahnke, dulcian; Falko Munkwitz, Norbert Salvenmoser, sackbut; Klaus Eichhorna, Reinhard Jaudb organ

The members of the Habsburg dynasty were not only key figures in the political history of Europe until the early 19th century, they were also great patrons of the arts, and music took a special place at their courts. Many recordings are devoted to what is considered the golden age at the Habsburg court in Vienna, roughly speaking from 1640 to 1740. The present disc brings us to Ferdinand I (1503-1564), the grandson of Maximilian I, who was the first emperor in Vienna.

When Maximilian died in 1519, Ferdinand's elder brother Charles became emperor as Charles V; their father, Philip the Handsome, had died in 1506. In 1521 the Habsburg lands were split into a Spanish and an Austrian branch. Ferdinand became archduke of Austria. In 1555 Charles V abdicated; he was succeeded as King of Spain by Philip II, whereas Ferdinand was crowned as Holy Roman Emperor.

Ferdinand I established a court in Innsbruck, and built the church, known as the Hofkirche. Today it is best known for its historical organ, built by Jörg Ebert in 1558-61, which can be heard here in two items. It was designed specifically to house the tomb of Maximilian. In February 1564 the church was consecrated to the Holy Cross in the presence of Ferdinand and his family. "[The] basic idea behind the programme on this recording (...) is to undertake a hypothetical reconstruction of the music played at this special occasion", Franz Gratl writes in the booklet. The music selected for this disc is mostly from the pen of composers who for some time were in the service of Ferdinand or in some other ways associated with the Habsburg dynasty.

The main work is a mass by Jacobus Vaet. He was born in Flanders and started as a choirboy in the cathedral of Kortrijk. He studied at Louvain University and then became a member of the chapel of Charles V. In 1554 he entered the service of Maximilian, Ferdinand's son - who later succeeded him as Maximilian II - as Kapellmeister. The Missa Tityre, tu patulae is based on a secular motet by Orlandus Lassus which precedes the mass. This motet is a setting of the first two stanzas from Virgil's Eclogues. It belongs to the category of motets on texts by authors from the Greek and Roman Antiquity, reflecting the interest of the humanists in classical texts and values. Paul Van Nevel devoted a complete disc to this repertoire (Le Chant de Virgile, Harmonia mundi, 2001).

The programme starts with an Intrada by Alessandro Orologio who was not associated with Ferdinand's court as he was born only around 1550. However, there is a connection to the Habsburgs as he for a number of years was in the service of Ferdinand's grandson Rudolf in Prague, who later became emperor as Rudolf II. Then we hear the hourly chimes of the clock built for the Hofkapelle in 1576-77. Next is a motet by Pieter Maessins (or Maessens), who was also from Flanders and started his career as a choirboy in the chapel of Archduchess Margaret of Austria in Brussels. He first was a soldier in Charles V's army, and after ending his military career in 1539 he received the minor orders of the priesthood. He became kapelmeester in Kortrijk and entered the service of Ferdinand as second Kapellmeister, assisting Arnold von Bruck. He succeeded him after Bruck retired in 1546. The motet In dedicatione huius templi is a responsory for the consecration of a church.

Considering the purpose of this disc the inclusion of Quis dabit oculis nostris by Michael Deiss - a chorister at the Hofkapelle and later in the service of his son Ferdinand Karl in Graz - is rather odd: it is a motet at the occasion of the death of Ferdinand. That has certainly not be sung at the occasion mentioned above. The performance of Austria virtute aquilas, a motet in homage of the House of Habsburg, makes more sense. Its composer, Christian Hollander, was from the northern Netherlands and joined the chapel of Ferdinand in 1557.

In between are several secular pieces. The most famous of these is Heinrich Isaac's Innsbruck ich muß dich lassen, here unfortunately performed incomplete. Antonio de Cabezon is represented with a keyboard piece, an arrangement of the famous madrigal Ancor che col partire by Cipriano de Rore. He was not connected to Ferdinand or his branch of the family, but it is suggested that he may have been in the retinue of his employer Philip II when he visited Innsbruck in 1551 and 1554. The other keyboard piece is from the pen of Jacques (or Jacob) Buus, another composer of Flemish birth who was in Ferdinand's chapel from 1550 until his death.

The disc includes two pieces by Arnold von Bruck; I already mentioned him as Kapellmeister of Ferdinand, the predecessor of Pieter Maessins. He was born in Bruges and began his career in the chapel of Charles V. In 1527 he became Kapellmeister at Ferdinand's court as successor to Heinrich Finck. He set a number of German hymns, among them Komm heiliger Geist, Herre Gott, on a text by Martin Luther. Although Ferdinand was not as strict as his brother Charles V in theological matters, it seems highly unlikely that this piece will have been performed at such an occasion as this disc is supposed to document.

This brings us to the way this 'reconstruction' has been put together. It is inevitably highly speculative, and that in itself is not the problem. We mostly don't know exactly which music has been performed at a specific occasion. But the choice of music should at least be plausible, meaning that it could have been performed at such an occasion. That is not always the case here as I have indicated. One would wish a little more discipline from performers. That said, this disc includes quite a number of pieces which are unknown - some are recorded here for the first time - and sometimes by composers who are unknown as well. The performances are very good, and the mixture of voices and instruments could well reflect the performance practice at Ferdinand's court. It seems a little questionable whether only three singers were involved. A larger ensemble seems more likely. The balance between voices and instruments is not quite ideal either.

Still, this disc is very interesting for several reasons and musically satisfying.

Johan van Veen (© 2014)

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