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"Treasures from Uppsala - 17th-century Music from the Düben Collection"

Wolf Matthias Friedrich, bassa
Les Cornets Noirs

rec: Jan 11 - 14, 2011, Boswil (CH), Alte Kirche
Raumklang - RK 3101 (© 2012) (65'46")
Liner-notes: E/D/F; lyrics - translations: E/D/F
Cover & track-list
Düben Collection

anon: Sonata a 2 cornettichjk; Antonio BERTALI (1605-1669): Omnes sancti angeliadefhjk; Sonata a 3dehjk; Sonata II a 6cdefijk; Caspar FÖRSTER (1616-1673): Sonata a 7 instrom.bdefghjk; Sonata Le Sidon a 3dehjk; Johann Wilhelm FURCHHEIM (c1635-1682): Sonata a 5cdeghjk; Johann Melchior GLETLE (1626-1683): Salve Reginaabgjk [2]; Marco Gioseppe PERANDA (c1625-1675): Cor mundum crea in meacgjk; David POHLE (1624-1695): Vox Domini super aquasadehjk; Sisto REINA (?-c1664): De profundis clamaviabhjk [1]; Franz TUNDER (1614-1667): Salve coelestis pateradhjk

Sources: [1] Sisto Reina, Fiorita corona di melodia celeste, 1660; [2] Johann Melchior Gletle, Motettae Sacrae concertate ... op. 1, 1667

Bork-Frithjof Smith, Gebhard David, cornettb, cornettinoc; Amandine Beyerd, Cosimo Stawiarskye, violin; Simen Van Mechelen, sackbutf; Adrian Rovatkay, dulciang; Patrick Sepec, celloh, viola da gambai; Matthias Spaeter, archlutej; Johannes Strobl, organk

The title of this disc refers to the University of Uppsala in Sweden which owns a precious and large collection of manuscripts and a much smaller number of printed editions with music written across Europe in the 17th and early 18th century. It is frequently used for performances and recordings and it gives us much information about the musical landscape in particularly northern Europe during the second half of the 17th century.

This collection was brought together by members of the Düben-family, after whom it is called the Düben collection. Andreas Düben, organist and pupil of Sweelinck, settled in Sweden, and it was in particular his son Gustaf who was responsible for the building up of the collection. He seems to have had close contacts with Dietrich Buxtehude as the latter's oeuvre is well represented. This is confirmed by the fact that Buxtehude dedicated his famous cantata cycle Membra Jesu nostri to Düben. The Düben collection comprises about 2,300 compositions from all over Europe, not only by German composers but also by masters from Austria, Italy and England. It is mostly the German repertoire which is performed. This disc has a somewhat wider scope as it includes pieces by various composers from Austria and Italy. This could also explain that the performers have chosen pieces by German composers on Latin texts, and that these works show strong influences of the Italian style.

When the stile nuovo emerged in Italy it soon disseminated across the continent. It was enthusiastically embraced in Germany where most composers incorporated elements of the Italian style into their own compositions. Among them are the use of harmony for expressive reasons and of musical figures to express the text. The compositions included in the programme of this disc bear witness to that. The main composer in 17th-century Germany was Heinrich Schütz. He certainly was receptive to the newest trends in Italian music as in particular his collections of Symphoniae Sacrae demonstrate. One of his pupils was David Pohle who worked at several courts before being appointed as Kapellmeister in Halle. The largest part of his output seems to be lost, among that a complete cycle of cantatas for the ecclesiastical year. Apparently he preferred to compose music to Latin texts; five of these have been recorded by Rien Voskuilen ( Vox Domini super aquas doesn't appear on that disc. Like his teacher Schütz he pays much attention to the text and doesn't miss opportunities to musically illustrate words and phrases.

Franz Tunder is best-known for his organ works. For many years he worked as organist in Lübeck where he founded the Abendmusiken. It is quite possible that his vocal works were performed during those concerts. All of them are included in the Düben collection. They show that he was strongly influenced by the Italian style. It has been suggested that Salve coelestis pater is an arrangement of a piece by an Italian composer, but the possible model has not been found. Another piece by Tunder was an arrangement of a motet by Giovanni Rovetta: the text was still in Latin, but protestantized: "Salve Regina" turned into "Salve mi Jesu". The same seems to have happened with Salve Regina by Johann Melchior Gletle, a composer who was born in Switzerland and worked most of his life in Augsburg. In the Düben collection this piece is represented with the same title as Tunder's arrangement. It is not known who changed the text; it could have been Gustaf Düben himself. Unfortunately the vocal part is lost. Therefore the original piece by Gletle is performed. I just wondered whether the text of Tunder's composition could have been used. However, the text seems to be at least a little different: "Salve mi Jesu Deus misericordiae" (Gletle) versus "Salve mi Jesu pater misericordiae". That makes it probably too speculative to use it.

Gletle is a representative of South German and Austrian music. That also goes for Antonio Bertali who from 1649 to 1669 was Kapellmeister at the imperial court in Vienna. His sonatas bear witness to the high standard of musical performances at the court. The Sonata II a 6 has been taken from another collection, that from Kromeriz Castle in Moravia which includes many brilliant works with parts for trumpets or cornetts. Bertali's sonata, scored for two violins, two cornetts, two sackbuts, violone and bc is of the same character. With its close connection between text and music and the use of rhetorical figures the sacred concerto Omnes sancti angeli shows how strongly the music of Italian masters inspired German composers of the 17th century.

The Italian part of this disc is extended by the inclusion of pieces by Marco Gioseppe Peranda, who succeeded Heinrich Schütz as Hofkapellmeister in Dresden in 1672. He was criticised by the advocates of Schütz's music for his leanings towards a 'theatrical' style. The sacred concerto Cor mundum crea in me is not overly modern, but certainly quite expressive, in particular in regard to harmony. The sinfonia which opens this piece is especially notable. The other Italian is Sisto Reina, a productive composer who is hardly known today and who never worked in Germany. From that angle the inclusion of his sacred concerto De profundis is a bit odd. It is a very fine piece, though, in which the text is effectively expressed in the music. I definitely would like to hear more from Reina's oeuvre.

The two remaining composers are represented with instrumental music. Caspar Förster was from Danzig and worked there during several stages of his career. He also worked for a number of years at the court in Copenhagen, and he visited Italy several times, studying with Carissimi. With his Capella Ducale and Musica Fiata Roland Wilson recorded some of his biblical dialogues which clearly show the influence of Carissimi's oratorios (CPO). The Sonata a 7 instrom is also Italian in character as the two cornetts and the strings are juxtaposed in the manner of the Venetian cori spezzati. The Sonata a 3 La Sidon has the typical scoring for two violins, viola da gamba and bc which was popular in Germany. Johann Wilhelm Furchheim was from Dresden and spent all his life at the Dresden court as a violinist and organist. His sonatas are dominated by counterpoint which was held in high regard in Dresden during Schütz's time as Hofkapellmeister.

As one may gather from this description of the programme this is a highly compelling disc of first-grade music. It bears witness to the level of composing and performing in the main music centres in Germany and around the Baltic. Gustaf Düben certainly had a good sense of what was worth collecting and keeping. A part of this repertoire must have been performed in Stockholm, at the court but also in the German church where he was Kapellmeister. Wolf Matthias Friedrich is a specialist in this kind of repertoire and frequently works with some of the best ensembles and conductors in the performance of German music, such as Roland Wilson and Hermann Max. His delivery is outstanding: every detail of the text is clearly understandable, and the illustration of the text in the music comes off impressively. However, the Italian pronunciation of the Latin texts is historically unjustifiable, except in Reina. The playing of the instrumentalists is of the highest order. The cornettists deserve special mention for their technically brilliant and stylistically convincing performances.

Johan van Veen (© 2013)

Relevant links:

Wolf Matthias Friedrich
Les Cornets Noirs

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