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"Das Liederbuch des Erhard Öglin, 1512" (The songbook of Erhard Ögelin, 1512)


rec: August 14 - 17, 2019, Reutlingen-Altenburg, Ev. Nikolauskirche
organumclassics - Ogm 201032 (© 2020) (71'23")
Liner-notes: D; lyrics - no translations
Cover & track-list

anon: Fama malum; Freundlichere Gruß; Fröhliches Weib; Hilf, Frau von Ach; Mein Glück geht auf die Seiten aus; Mein Herz hat sich mit Lieb verpflichtet; O Mutter Gotts, mein Zuversicht; Spem in alium; Paul HOFHAIMER (1459-1537): Mein einigs A; Nach Willen dein; Was ich durch Glück; Zucht, Ehr und Lob; Heinrich ISAAC (c1450-1517): Dich, Mutter Gottes, ruf wir an; Zwischen Berg und tiefem Tal; Adamm RENER (c1485-c1520): Jetzt hat vollbracht Unfall und Macht; Mein höchste Frucht; Ludwig SENFL (c1490-1543): Könnt ich, schön reines, wertes Weib; Unser Pfarrer ist auf der Bahn (attr); Beat WIDMANN alias MACHINGER (c1476-1551): Wer säh dich für ein solche an

Susan Eitrich, soprano; Gudrun Köllner, contralto; Sebastian Mory, alto, tenor; Dietrich Wrase, bass, percussion
with: Gerhard Hölzle, tenor; Thorsten Bleich, lute; Alfred Gross, harpsichord

The publication of a collection of music under the title of Harmonice Musices Odhecaton, generally known as Odhecaton, by the Venetian printer Ottaviano Petrucci in 1501, is generally considered a landmark in music history. It was the first book of polyphonic music ever to be printed using movable type. The present disc focuses on another printed edition of music of a comparable character, which appeared in 1512 in Augsburg. Responsible for this publication was Erhard Öglin, born in Reutlingen and active in Augsburg as a printer of books. Several of his publications were commissioned by Emperor Maximilian I. It is very likely that his songbook, from which this disc offers a selection, is also closely connected to Maximilian's court. It may even have been put together especially for performances at the court.

Öglin was the first German printer to use Petrucci's technique of multiple impression, although he reduced it to double impression by printing the lines and notes together. Nicole Schwindt, in her liner-notes, suggests that Öglin may have had the assistance of people from the court who explained to him what was needed to print this kind of songs. The collection includes 42 German songs and six pieces on Latin texts. Most of the pieces are secular, but the book opens with a sacred piece: Heinrich Isaac's Dich, Mutter Gottes, rufen wir an, which is a contrafactum of his song Es wollt ein Maidlein grasen gan. It is not known whether Isaac himself was responsible for the replacement of the original text. The songbook ends with some polyphonic motets, among them the two anonymous pieces included here: Spem in alium and Fama malum. The latter is not sacred: it is a setting of a text from Virgil's Aeneis.

That does not mean that all the other texts are strictly secular. The second song is the anonymus Hilf, Frau von Ach. "Ach" refers to the German city of Aix (Aachen), which was where German kings were crowned and which was one of the places where Maximilian's court stayed regularly. The 'Lady of Aix' is the Virgin Mary, who is asked for assistance by a sinner. O Mutter Gottes, mein Zuversicht is a hybrid text: the song has a secular subject, but is mixed with sacred elements. Its texture is a little different from that of most songs, as it has a refrain: the penultimate line returns in every stanza. Another song with a refrain is the anonymous Freundlicher gruß. Most songs have a texture which was common in Germany, and which we also find in many hymns, written under the influence of Martin Luther. It is known as the Bar form, and consists of an Aufgesang, comprising two musically identical Stollen, and an Abgesang, resulting in a AAB texture.

The authors of the texts are not known. Not all the composers of the settings are known either. Some pieces are attributed to a composer, but with considerable doubt. That goes, for instance, for Wer säh dich für ein solche an, which is anonymous in the songbook, but may be from the pen of Beat Widmann, who is possibly also the author of the text. Ludwig Senfl may be the composer of Unser Pfarrer ist auf der Bahn, but that is anything but sure. Mein Herz hat sich mit Lieb verpflicht has been attributed to Hofhaimer and Senfl, but because of the uncertainty, the track-list has marked it as an anonymous piece.

Several songs include an acrostic, such as Zucht, Ehr und Lob by Paul Hofhaimer. Unfortunately, that escapes the reader of the booklet as only three of the eight stanzas are performed here, and the last of these as a keyboard intavolation. The above-mentioned Wer säh dich für ein solche an is also incomplete here: only three of the seven stanzas are included. This is a big shame. Two pieces are performed as keyboard intavolations: Mein einigs A and Was ich durch Glück. Both are taken from a second collection of songs, printed by Öglin; only the discant partbook has been preserved. These two pieces have been intavolated by several composers, but the liner-notes don't make clear what we get here. Apparently Alfred Gross plays his own versions, but on what basis, as only one part of the original song has come down to us?

As one will have gathered by now, this production raises some questions and causes also some disappointments, among them alsos the lack of English liner-notes and translations of the lyrics. However, otherwise I rate this disc highly. We have here a greatly important source, for historical and musical reasons. This selection of songs from this book is very welcome, and I have no complaints about the performances at all. More than ten years ago I reviewed a disc of the Peñalosa Ensemble, which I greatly enjoyed. I haven't heard of the ensemble since then, and I am happy that they act here at the same high level as back then. The singing and playing is excellent, and the performers do full justice to the character of each individual song. Some are performed in a more or less declamatory manner, when the text and the music ask for it, other pieces receive a more fluent performance, thanks to the perfect legato of the singers and the good blending of the voices.

Johan van Veen (© 2020)

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