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"Virgo Sancta Caecilia - Chant from the Antiphonary of Anna Hachenberch"

Ensemble Candens Lilium
Dir: Norbert Rodenkirchen

rec: Oct 17 - 19, 2009, Cologne, Museum Schnütgen, St. Cäcilien
marc aurel edition - MA 20044 (© 2010) (52'06")
Liner-notes: E/D; lyrics - translations: E/D
Cover & tracklist

[Invitatorium] Regem, confessorum dominum; [Antiphona] Virgo Sancta Caecilia; [Responsorium] Sancta Caecilia Christi martir; [Antiphona] Omnes populi; Antoine BRUMEL (c1460-1512/13): Pleni; JOSQUIN DESPREZ (c1450/55-1521): Agnus Dei; anon: [Antiphona] Patroni digni merita & [Psalm] Laudate pueri; [Responsorium] Gloriose Christi confessor; [Antiphona] Celebrem sancti patris & Magnificat; Maria mater pia; [Responsorium] Circulus annalis; [Responsorium] Cum sublimatus; Redeuntes; [Responsorium] Christi virgo dilectissima; JOSQUIN DESPREZ: Per illud ave; anon: [Responsorium] Dabit illi Dominus Deus

Lydia Brotherton, Sabine Lutzenberger, Elodie Mourot, Veronika Holliger-Jensovka, Tanja Polt-Lutsenko, Witte Maria Weber, i>voice; Norbert Rodenkirchen, transverse flute, harp; Rolf Bischoff, fiddle

The revival of the interest in early music has expanded into the field of liturgical music. The extensive research has resulted into a more different picture of the liturgical music of Middle Ages and renaissance. It is now generally acknowledged that regions and countries had their own styles and traditions. Convents and churches had their own repertoire which was sometimes unique and didn't appear elsewhere. The manuscript which is the subject of this recording - preserved in the Schütgen Museum in Cologne, formerly St Cecilia's - bears witness to that.

The manuscript bears the annotation (in Latin): "This book was written and notated with great diligence by Anna Hachenberch. May her soul rest in eternal peace". Nothing is known about this woman; it is possible that she belonged to the monastery of Augustinian sisters who were domiciled in St Cecilia's since 1475. The manuscript can be dated to around 1520. It is also not known what exactly her role has been. Has she merely written down existing chants or did she contribute some texts and music of her own? It is assumed the manuscript contains a large part of the repertoire of the monastery since the 13th century and also contains later chants which were exclusively written for St Cecilia's. One of the most remarkable features of the manuscript is the virtuosity of a number of chants due to extended embellishments. This suggests that the Augustinian sisters were highly skilled singers.

This disc doesn't bring a kind of liturgical reconstruction. We hear antiphons and responsories from three important feasts for the Cologne monastic community. They are taken from the offices of two of the monastery's patron saints: St Cecilia and St Eberigisil, a 6th-century martyr and the fifth bishop of Cologne. The third feast is the Feast of the Annunciation. Here chants are used which are also known from other manuscripts but which are extended and embellished.

This recording is the result of extensive research by scholars and musicians. For the interpretation Norbert Rodenkirchen founded this ensemble which consists of singers who are specialists in early vocal music. The result is very impressive: the voices blend perfectly, and the singers deal quite well with the virtuosity of some chants which have an astonishing range. All chants are monophonic, but some polyphonic pieces by Brumel and Josquin have been added. This way the music from the manuscript is put in its historical perspective.

Recordings like this are not for the average music lover. Those who have a special interest in the music of the renaissance and liturgical music in particular shouldn't miss this disc which is historically illuminating and musically enthralling.

Johan van Veen (© 2011)

Relevant links:

Norbert Rodenkirchen

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