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"The Birkholtz Trumpet from 1650"

Jean-François Madeuf & Ensemble

rec: July 28 - 31, 2008, Belitz/Prebberede, Dorfkirche
Raumklang - RK 2805 (© 2009) (57'16")
Liner-notes: E/D/F
Cover & track-list

Vincenzo ALBRICI (1631-1696): Sonata a 5; Johann ARNOLD (17th C): Sonata a 2 chori; Georg BÖHM (1661-1733): Vater unser im Himmelreich, chorale fantasiab; Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707): Prelude in g minor (BuxWV 163)b; Paul HAINLEIN (1626-1686): Sonata a 5 Battallia ex C; Nicolaus HASSE (c1617-1672): Zween Aufzug [3]; Adam JARZEBSKI (before 1590-1648/49): Concerto IV a 2 fagotto è trombone; Johann PEZEL (1639-1694): Sonata No 69 [4]; Sonata No 70 [4]; Sonata No 75 [4]; Michael PRAETORIUS (c1571-1621): Corrant de Battaglia M.P.C. [1]; Daniel SPEER (1636-1707): Final-Schläge [5]; Marsch oder gemeine Schläg auf den Heerpauckena [5]; Pauken-Würbel [5]; Magnus THOMSEN (16th C): Aufs Pferd; Eingang; Marsch, Hohe Lage; Pommerische Sonate; Rotta; Toccedas, intradas Johann VIERDANCK (c1605-1646): Capriccio XX [2]

Sources: [1] Michael Praetorius, Terpsichore, 1612; [2] Johann Vierdanck, Capricci, Canzoni und Sonaten, 1641; [3] Nicolaus Hasse, Delitiae Musicae, 1656; [4] Johann Pezel, Bicinia Variorum Instrumentorum, 1675; [5] Daniel Speer, Grund-richtiger, kurtz, leicht und nöthiger Unterricht der Musicalischen Kunst, 1687, 1697

Christoph Draeger, Hartmut Grün, Jean-François Madeuf, Michael Münkwitz, trumpet; Michael Büttler, Christina Hess, trumpet, sackbut; Krzystof Lewandowski, dulcian; Anne von Hoff, Catherine Aglibut, violin; Philip Tarr, timpani [solo a]; Marc Meisel, organ [solo b]; Johannes Gabriel, speaker

One of the main features of historical performance practice is the use of period instruments. In the early stages performers struggled to master the playing technique which the instruments of the renaissance and baroque periods required. Right now the technical level of performance at the early music scene is remarkable. One instrument still causes many problems: the natural trumpet. In particular the intonation is a matter of concern. No wonder most modern players of the natural trumpet use instruments with vent holes, which help to improve intonation. The French trumpet player Jean-François Madeuf is a specialist in playing the natural trumpet without any intonational aids. Recently he participated in the recording of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos by La Petite Bande, directed by Sigiswald Kuijken.

As the title of this disc indicates its focus is one specific instrument. The ensemble plays copies of a trumpet which was built in 1650 in Nuremberg by Wolff Birckholtz. Because of the quality of the surviving instruments he must be considered one of the most important masters of the trumpet-making craft in Nuremberg. The instrument which was copied by Michael Münkwitz was once owned by Jacob Hintze, who was born in 1624 and held the title of Stabstrompeter (Staff Trumpeter). He seems to have become quite rich as his widow paid a considerable sum of money for his burial. The trumpet was found in the small village church of Belitz in Germany. Until fairly recently the trumpet hung unheeded on a memorial in the chancel of the church. It was examined, measured and documented, and then copied.

A trumpet like this was very likely not used for art music. At the time it was built trumpets were mostly used in a military context, and that explains the choice of pieces by Magnus Thomsen which opens this disc. These are from a manuscript which dates from the end of the 16th century and is preserved in the Royal Library in Copenhagen. The next music of the programme developed from the military signals. "Later an entirely improvised ceremonial music for ensembles of trumpets and timpani developed out of these signals, and then also out of the toccatas and sonatas specifically composed for this usage. Such an ensemble had five or six voices in a set order from the lowest to the highest registers (...)" (booklet).

The German composer Daniel Speer was active as a town musician and also wrote theoretical works. In his Grund-richtiger … Unterricht der Musicalischen Kunst (1687) he pays special attention to wind instruments. But this work also includes instructions for the playing technique on the timpani, with musical examples. Two have been included in the programme. A specific form of trumpet music was the Aufzug or processional fanfare, a short piece in two parts. At major courts various trumpeters were active, and that resulted in pieces for an ensemble of trumpets in two choirs, like the Sonada by Johann Arnold, dedicated to Johann Georg I of Saxony. Considering the number of players involved the recording of this sonata was only possible thanks to the recording technique. Johann Pezel was himself a trumpeter and belonged to the guild of the Stadtpfeifer. His collection of pieces for two equal instruments reflects the kind of repertoire the Stadtpfeifer played. The last piece from the collection is for trumpet and bassoon; the latter part is remarkable for its virtuosity. The Concerto IV a 2 by Adam Jarzebski was originally written for bassoon and sackbut, but is played here on two sackbuts. That has some relevance in relation to Wolff Birckholtz, because he also built sackbuts.

The disc ends with a Sonata a 5 Battallia ex C by Paul Hainlein which has been preserved in the Düben collection. It was originally scored for strings and bc, although it includes the indication of a trumpet playing colla parte with the second viola. Hainlain was from Nuremberg and belonged to a family of trumpet and sackbut makers. This has been used as justification to play episodes from this piece with trumpets and to perform the two viola parts on sackbuts. In addition to the music for wind we hear two organ pieces which is a bit odd as they don't have any connection with the rest of the programme.

This is a highly interesting document, because we have the chance to hear copies of a unique instrument and repertoire which is seldom played. Moreover the trumpets are played without vent holes which is still hardly practised these days. Considering the trouble to play the natural trumpet in tune the performances of Jean-François Madeuf and his colleagues is admirable and impressive. Nobody who is interested in baroque wind music should miss this disc. The booklet contains extended liner-notes on the repertoire and the instruments.

Johan van Veen (© 2011)

Relevant links:

Jean-François Madeuf

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