musica Dei donum

CD reviews

"Hasse, Tunder, Buxtehude - Vocal and instrumental music from the Marienkirche in Lübeck"

Cornelia Samuelis, Hanna Zumsande, soprano; Stefan Kahle, alto; Benjamin Glaubitz, Tobias Hunger, tenor; Joachim Höchbauer, bass; Johannes Unger, organa
Chamber choir and instrumentalists of the Capella St. Marien
Dir: Johannes Unger

rec: April 4, 2014, Lübeck, St. Jakobia; May 4 - 7, 2014, Lübeck, St. Marien
Querstand - VKJK 1411 (© 2014) (78'29")
Liner-notes: E/D; lyrics - no translations
Cover & track-list

Petrus HASSE (1575-1640): Ach, daß ich hören solt, motet; Missa 7 vocum; Praeambulum ex F pedalitera; Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707): Ihr lieben Christen, freut euch nun (BuxWV 51); Franz TUNDER (1614-1667): Christ lag in Todesbanden, chorale fantasiaa; Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott, sacred concerto; Helft mir Gott's Güte preisen, sacred concerto; Hosianna dem Sohne Davids, cantata; Jesus Christus, wahr' Gottes Sohn, chorale arrangementa Sinfonia à 7 viole; Wend' ab deinen Zorn, lieber Herr

Friederike Otto, Julia Fritz, Sebastian Kuhn, cornett; Johannes Rauterberg, Steffen Naumann, trumpet; Peter Stoldt, Peter Wilden, Thomas Bender, sackbut; Gabriele Steinfeld, Anne von Hoff, Saeko Riederer, violin; Marthe Perl, Hartmut Becker, Oksana Vasilkova, Anja Engelberg, viola da gamba; Monika Fischaleck, dulcian; Annette Rheinfurth, violone; Ulrich Wedemeier, lute; Frantisek Beer, regal; Michaela Hasselt, harpsichord, organ

In the 17th century Lübeck was one of the main music centres of Germany. Like in other cities organists played a key role in musical life. The present disc includes music by three composers who acted as organist of the Marienkirche: Petrus Hasse, Franz Tunder and Dietrich Buxtehude.

Peter Hasse (the Elder) is hardly known. He was the great-grandfather of Johann Adolf Hasse, the German opera composer of the 18th century. He was organist in Lübeck from 1616 until his death in 1640. It is assumed he was a pupil of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck in Amsterdam. During his time in Lübeck the three organs in the Marienkirche were expanded, the large organ by Friederich Stellwagen. Only two organ works by Hasse are known: two variations on the chorale Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr and the Praeambulum ex F pedaliter played here. With its improvisatory traces it is a typical specimen of the north German organ school.

In addition we get here the two only extant vocal works from Hasse's pen. Ach, daß ich hören sollt is a motet for six voices and bc. In his liner-notes Johannes Unger states that this work is for double chorus and "firmly in the tradition of polychorality as propagated by Hieronymus Praetorius in northern Germany". One usually expects pieces for double choir being scored for eight voices but that is not necessarily the case. Here Hasse divides the six voices into two groups: two sopranos and alto versus two tenors and bass. The other work is the Missa 7 vocum. It comprises Kyrie, Gloria and Credo but the latter two sections are incomplete. The Gloria includes just one verse: "Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis". In the Credo three groups of words are omitted: "et ex Patre natum", "Deum de Deo" and "genitum, non factum". Unger doesn't try to explain this. These two pieces are sung by the soloists, with three cornets and three sackbuts playing colla voce.

In 1641 Franz Tunder was appointed organist of the Marienkirche, as successor to Hasse. There is some uncertainty about who his teachers were; he may have received lessons from Hasse but was also in Copenhagen where he may have received instruction from Melchior Borchgrevink, a pupil of Giovanni Gabrieli. Tunder was in charge of two organs: the large organ with three manuals and pedal and 52 stops and the smaller organ in the Totentanz Chapel. Only fourteen organ works have been preserved which can be explained from the fact that organists usually improvised. Christ lag in Todesbanden is a chorale fantasia, a genre which is largely confined to the north German organ school. The chorale melody moves from one voice to the other, and the various lines of the chorale are linked by episodes with free material. This piece includes another hallmark of this school: the use of echo effects. Jesus Christus, wahr' Gottes Sohn has the character of a canzona in which the voices are of equal weight.

Tunder was organist and the composition of vocal works probably did not belong to his duties. The performance of vocal works in the liturgy was the responsibility of the Kantor, until 1662 Martin Lincke and then Tunder's son-in-law Samuel Franck. It seems that no music from their pen is known as both have no entry in New Grove. It is known that Lincke had collected German and Italian music; his collection - which includes Hasse's Mass - was incorporated into the library of the Marienkirche in 1638 and is now preserved in the Musikverein in Vienna. Whether Tunder's 17 sacred concertos which have come down to us were written for performance during Sunday services is not known. They may also have been performed during the Abendmusiken; the first of these is documented for 1646. They started with performances of organ music; the dramatic works for which these concerts are best known date from the time of Tunder's successor Buxtehude.

Tunder's vocal works have been preserved as part of the famous Düben collection which is part of the library of Uppsala University. They are either on Latin or on German texts. Among the latter settings of chorales take an important place, and three of these have been chosen for this recording. These are settings per omnes versus. The chorale melody is always present and exposed unaltered in the first vocal section; Ein feste Burg opens with a sinfonia. The various verses are then presented in various sorts of arrangement for different scorings. Here we find a mixture of various influences: the variation technique of the north German organ school, traditional German counterpoint, the declamatory style of Italian monody and the use of musical figures and harmony for expressive reasons which is a feature of the Italian music of the early 17th century. In ein feste Burg Tunder makes use of the stile concitato (which we know from Monteverdi's Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda) for the words "Es streit't für uns der rechte Mann" (for us the right Man fights who has been chosen by God himself). Hosianna dem Sohne Davids is a sacred concerto on free material without any connection to a chorale. The Sinfonia à 7 viole is the only instrumental piece by Tunder as far as we know but in fact it was not intended as such: originally it was the introduction to a sacred work, Da pacem which is lost. It is claimed in the booklet that it is recorded here for the first time but that is not correct. It was recorded previously by György Vashegyi with the Orfeo Orchestra (Hungaroton, 2004).

In 1667 Tunder died; the next year Dietrich Buxtehude was appointed his successor. More than 100 cantatas from his pen have survived, many of them are also part of the Düben collection. Ihr lieben Christen, freut euch nun is a cantata for Christmas; the text is taken from a poem by Erasmus Alberus (1500-1553). Buxtehude used only the first and the last of the 18 stanzas. The work opens with a sinfonia; then follow a chorale for soprano and a chorus for the tutti. After another sinfonia the bass has an arioso in the role of vox Christi: "See, see, I come soon, and with me is my son." This is followed by a terzet for alto, tenor and bass and a duet for two sopranos on the word "Amen". The cantata closes with a chorus which is a prayer for the Last Judgement to come. The instrumental scoring is remarkable as it includes three cornetts, two trumpets and three sackbuts which play con sordino, creating a very special effect.

This is an interesting disc as far as the repertoire is concerned. It documents about 50 years of liturgical practice in Lübeck and shows the qualities of three organists which were successively active here. The performances are excellent: six beautiful solo voices, a nice vocal ensemble and an outstanding instrumental group. And Johannes Unger delivers good performances of the organ pieces on the historical Stellwagen organ of the St-Jacobi-Kirche in Lübeck.

The participation of a vocal ensemble is debatable, though. We don't know how many singers Tunder and Buxtehude had at their disposal; actually we even don't know where the sacred music recorded here was performed at the time. However, the texture of these pieces points in the direction of a performance with one voice per part, possibly doubled by ripienists. The booklet doesn't list the singers in the choir but I am pretty sure it is larger than that. Particularly odd is that the chorale which follows the sinfonia in Buxtehude's cantatas is sung by the sopranos of the choir together. That said, I especially like the declamatory way of singing and the strong sense of rhythm in these performances.

It is especially that aspect - apart from the quality of the repertoire and the fact that some pieces are first recorded on CD - which make me recommend this disc.

Johan van Veen (© 2016)

Relevant links:

Benjamin Glaubitz
Tobias Hunger
Joachim Höchbauer
Stefan Kahle
Johannes Unger
Hanna Zumsande
Capella St. Marien

CD Reviews