musica Dei donum

CD reviews

Sacred music of the 17th century in Tirol

[I] Leopold VON PLAWENN (c1620 - 1682): Sacrae Nymphae op. 4
Neue Innsbrucker Hofkapelle
Dir: Jörg-Andreas Bötticher
rec: July 24 & 25, 2010 (live), Stift Stams (Austria), Basilika
Institut für Musikforschung Innsbruck - Klingende Kostbarkeiten aus Tirol 75 (2 CDs) (© 2010) (1.40'10")
Liner-notes: E/D; lyrics - translation: D

Amo Christum; Amo te o vita; Anima Christi; Cantabo Domino; Da pacem Domine; Diligam te Deus meus; Ecce sacerdos magnus; Hic est vere Martyr; Laudetur sanctissimum sacramentum; O beati viri Benedicti; O Deus ego amo te; O Domine Jesu; O dulcissima virgo; O mater Dei; O nomen Jesu; Peccavi super numerum; Salve Regina; Sanctum Benedictum veneremur; Suspiro ad te Domine; Venite ad me

Source: Sacrae Nymphae duplicium aquarum in Dei, deiparae et divorum laudes, op. 4, 1679

Andrea Lauren Brown, Heike Heilmann, Gunta Smirnova, soprano; Beat Duddeck, Bernhard Landauer, alto; Georg Poplutz, Johannes Puchleitner, tenor; Ralf Ernst, Florian Kresser, bass
Thomas Engel, Claudia Gerauer, recorder; Gebhard David, Frithjof Smith, cornett; Gerhard Schneider, Fritz Joast, Johannes Giesinger, sackbut; Christa Feuersinger, dulcian; Isabel Schau, Cosimo Stawiarski, violin; Barbara Leitherer, Jakob Rattinger, Armin Bereuter, viola da gamba; Alexandra Lechner, violone; Louis Capeille, harp; Daniele Caminiti, theorbo; Magdalena Malec, harpsichord; Jörg-Andreas Bötticher, organ

[II] "Wie der Hirsch schreit nach frischem Wasser - Motets and canzonas by baroque composers from Tirol"
Sabine Neumann, contraltoa; Satoshi Mizukoshi, tenorb; Peter Kooy, bassc
vita & anima
Dir: Peter Waldner
rec: May 31, 2010 (live), Bozen (Austria), Franziskanerkirche; June 1, 2010 (live), Burgeis (Vinschgau, Austria), Benediktinerstift Marienberg (Klosterkirche)
Musikmuseum - CD 13005 (© 2010) (64'14")
Liner-notes: D; lyrics - translations: D
Cover & track-list

Ingenuin MOLITOR (c1610-1669): Canzona in d minord [4]; Canzona in g minord [4]; Canzona I [2]; Canzona II [2]; Canzona III [2]; Canzona IV [2]; Canzona V [2]; Canzona VI [2]; Leopold VON PLAWENN (c1620 - 1682): Ah sero te amavia [3]; Estote fortes in belloc [3]; Homo Dei creaturaabc [3]; Quemadmodum desiderat cervusb [3]; Terra audi sermonemabc [3]; Johann STADLMAYR (1575?-1648): Ave regina coelorumbc [1]; Regina coelibc [1]; Salve Reginaabc [1]

Sources: [1] Johann Stadlmayr, Antiphonae vespertinae, 1636; [2] Ingenuin Molitor, Fasciculus musicalis, 1668; [3] Leopold von Plawenn, Sacrae Nymphae duplicium aquarum in Dei, deiparae et divorum laudes, op. 4, 1679; [4] Brixner Orgelbuch, ms., Tirol, late 17th C

Judith Steenbrink, Maite Larburu, violin; Arno Jochem, viola da gamba, violone; Andreas Arend, theorbo; Peter Waldner, organd

These two discs are devoted to composers who worked in the southern part of Germany and in Austria. Leopold von Plawenn is the central figure as he is represented on both discs. When I received them I had never heard of him. I am in good company because New Grove hasn't heard of him either. He is one of the many composers who have remained under the radar. Their activities were often restricted to a specific region, and it is often thanks to the research and performances of regional historians and musicians that their oeuvre is brought to light.

Leopold von Plawenn was born around 1620 in Innsbruck. His father Andreas served as Archduke Council to Innsbruck in 1633 under Claudia de' Medici who was regent of Tirol after the death of her husband, Archduke Leopold V, in 1632. Leopold was the composer's religous name; his exact identity is impossible to establish - it could be Andreas' second son Franz Ulrich or the youngest, Friedrich. He took his vows in the Benedictine Abbey Zwiefalten in Upper Swabia in 1647. It could be due to the tribulations of the Thirty Years War - during which the Swedish troops attacked the Abbey in that same year - that he took refuge in the Benedictine Abbey Marienberg in Austria. Here he met Alfons Stadlmayr, the son of Johann Stadlmayr who for many years was Kapellmeister at the Archduke's court in Innsbruck. A collection of Stadlmayr's music was present in Marienberg, and that may have made a great impression on Leopold von Plawenn. It is possible that he has also come into direct contact with Stadlmayr himself and the court chapel. But as there are many question marks in regard to his biography that is impossible to prove.

Four collections of music by Leopold have been printed between 1659 and 1679, all with the words Sacrae Nymphae in it. The fourth collection added "duplicium aquarum" (of two waters) to this title and was dedicated to Abbott Johann Martin Gleuz of Zwiefalten. "The title Sacrae Nymphae [...] explained itself as follows: in antiquity the goddess of a spring was called a nymph. The spring is animated through the life-giving and rejuvenating element of water, so it and its deity receive special reverence. This image of the nymph is transfered onto the Virgin Mary in Zwiefalten. The attribute of Two Waters refers to the geographic location of the monastery, which lies at the confluence of the Zwiefalten Aach (River) and the Kesselaach" (liner-notes).

The opus 4 includes sacred concertos for three to six vocal and instrumental voices with basso continuo. They are all written on Latin texts from various sources, both free poetry and biblical texts. Some reflect Roman Catholic mysticism and have a rather introverted character, like O Deus, ego amo te (O God, I love thee) and Amo te, o vita, o salus (I love thee, my life, my salvation). There are also exuberant concertos, such as Cantabo Domino and Hic est vere martyr ("Here is a true martyr who shed his blood for the name of Christ"). This character is emphasized by the use of cornetts in the performance of the Neue Innsbrucker Hofkapelle.

This is a freedom which the liner-notes claim to be in line with common practice at the time. I would like to see more specific proof for this statement. In addition to the two violins which are prescribed by Leopold von Plawenn the ensemble uses recorders, cornetts, dulcian and sackbuts. I wonder why the composer didn't indicate its use in his collection as these were quite common instruments at the time. We know from music written in southern Germany and Austria how many effects - even trumpet signals - could be suggested by violins alone. Maybe that was exactly what Leopold von Plawenn had in mind too. Not only the instrumental scoring is debatable. In some concertos three sopranos sing some passages unisono. I very much doubt that this was prescribed by the composer. Cantabo Domino is performed with two voices per part which seems to be at odds with the character of the concertos in this collection. This is definitely music for solo voices.

The second disc adheres to the scoring which Leopold von Plawenn indicates. The sacred concertos are performed with two violins and bc. It is a matter of good fortune that there are no duplications on these two discs, despite the fact that both ensembles have selected from the same source. The concertos on the disc of the ensemble vita & anima confirm Leopold von Plawenn's compositional qualities. Terra audi sermonem is a dialogue between God (bass) and the wicked people (alto, tenor). They sing simulteously in such a way that the words of the latter are a reaction to those of the former. Estote fortes is about the war against the devil and a kind of battaglia for bass, two violins and bc. Homo Dei creatura includes some passages with striking chromaticism.

This disc includes some pieces by Johann Stadlmayr, whose music Leopold might have become acquainted with through Stadlmayr's son Adolph. Moreover we hear instrumental pieces by Ingenuin Molitor, another composer who has no appearance in New Grove. He was born in Swabia, and worked for many years as organist in the Franciscan monastery of Bozen. Some of his organ works have been preserved in the so-called Brixner Orgelbuch, from which we hear two canzonas in the style we know from other South-German and Austrian composers such as Johann Caspar Kerll. In 1668 Molitor published a collection of 19 sacred concertos for one to three voices (two sopranos and bass) with two violins and bc, and six canzonas for one or two violins, violone and bc. The ensemble chose to concentrate on the latter and record the complete set of canzonas. Like the two organ pieces they belong stylistically to what was written in the German-Austrian violin school: the canzonas are divided into a number of contrasting sections, some of which are fugal.

It wouldn't be quite correct to say that I am pleasantly surprised by the quality of the repertoire. It rather confirms my conviction that we still only know the top of the iceberg and that much very fine music still escapes the attention of the music scene. The concertos by Leopold von Plawenn definitely deserve to be known and performed, and it is great that these two productions include 25 of his compositions. They show a close connection between text and music, with some eloquent text illustration. Various concertos have marked rhythms which are brought out quite well in the performances of both ensembles. The canzonas by Molitor are also very worthwhile, and I am quite curious about his vocal oeuvre. The singing and playing in both productions is outstanding, both in ensemble and individually.

These are rewarding productions which deserve the attention of any lover of 17th-century music.

Johan van Veen (© 2013)

Relevant links:

Musikland Tirol
vita & anima

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