Program: #94-01, Air Date: 01/03/94
Preservation of this program is made possible by a generous grant by John Mildner.
I. The Christmas Story (Waverly Consort).
''The music of earlier centuries had a very strong social and functional aspect, which is lost today because music is more abstract. Of course, there is still music for dance and music for singing, but in the Renaissance it was all functional music. People were active participants, not passive listeners.''Formalized concerts, Mr. Jaffee added, did not become the norm until Mozart's time.
The Waverly Consort gives 50 to 60 concerts a year, mostly in colleges and universities. Mr. Jaffee, who plays lute, is the group's music director. His wife, Kay, a recorder and keyboard player, is associate director. They are the founders of the New York-based ensemble, which has six singers and four instrumentalists, each of whom plays several instruments.
''The Christmas Story'' will feature three guest artists. Among the early instruments that will be heard at Wednesday's performance are the lute, violas da gamba (treble, tenor and bass), bagpipes, recorders in several sizes, harps, cittern, citole (a 14th-century French instrument esembling a small mandolin), portative organ, handbells and krummhorns.
With the exception of the krummhorns, which have what Mr. Jaffee called a ''robust'' sound, many of the instruments have a soft sound, and the ensemble looks for concert settings with resonant acoustics.''Historically, this music was performed in churches or cathedrals made of wood or stone,'' he said. ''There were no acoustical tile ceilings back then.''
Much of the music the ensemble will perform is vocal, and about half is accompanied by the instrumentalists. Most of the works are anonymous, and the songs are in Latin and French. ''There are only two named composers - Guillaume Dufay and Leonel Power,'' Mr. Jaffee said.
Apart from the introductory lecture, there will be few explanations, although audience members can stay after the program if they have questions about the music or the instruments, Mr. Jaffee said. ''I want them to get to the music and forget the mechanical,'' he said. ' 'My yardstick for our success or failure in concert is that people should require no preparation. The music should grab them immediately. If not, something is probably wrong.''
''People's sensory apparatus has not changed since the Middle Ages,'' he added. ''The bottom line is - does it move you, whether or not you know the styles. This is what motivates our presentations. The audience should be delighted and moved by the music on the most elementary level.''
The Waverly Consort has presented its Christmas program several times a year since 1980. The first season, it was strictly a concert version. The group has expanded the idea to include period costumes and staging, designed from the paintings and sculpture of the time of the music. The singers portray different roles.
Finding enough music was no problem. ''Using Nativity music only, we had a lot of choice,'' Mr. Jaffee said. ''We are presenting a re-enactment of events in the life of Christ. We have created something with flow and continuity.
''The Christmas story is not a particularly happy one. It is a dark piece as we do it. There are moments that are sad, but it is also uplifting. The music heightens those emotions, and sends people away with introspection, with a feeling for what these celebrations are really all about and how they started. We wanted to bring back the real meaning of Christmas.''
Studying the musical styles of periods as far back as nine centuries ago, Mr. Jaffee said, meant painstakingly rebuilding a broken tradition. ''The more we study and play,'' he said, ''the more it begins to make sense.''
Most of the music the ensemble performs has been published in contemporary notation. ''A lot has been written about the traditions,'' he said. ''There were contemporary accounts, and you can learn a lot from the music itself. You begin to discover some of the unwritten conventions.''
Over the years, the group has included several musicians with doctorates in musicology, he said, adding that being a music historian was not a membership requirement.
II. German Christmas Music of the High Renaissance (Walter Gerwig Lute Ensemble). Musical Heritage Society LP OR-320.
That said there are plenty of Renaissance and other delights awaiting the listener – rather more, it’s true, in Ameling’s selection than in the companion one in the selection of motets and Alpine works, attractive though this often is.
Ameling had a splendid viol consort as accompaniment, with flute, lute and the alto Bernhard Michaelis taking the leads, though there is also the supportive vocal tissue of tenor Hans-Ulrich Mielsch and baritone Barry McDaniel. The instrumental group imparts decisive warmth – we can note in passing the distinguished name of flautist Hans-Martin Linde – and one that blends most attractively with the solo and consort voices. There’s no real sense that this is a recording now well over forty years old and no stylistic peculiarities to distract the ear. Ameling’s purity of vocal production is enchanting in the Eccard, and no less so in Praetorius’s Es ist ein Ros entsprungen, which is one of the most mellifluously fluid and appealing of all these Christmas settings; its simplicity is warmly and joyously explored by the group. Reussner’s Uns ist ein Kindlein heut geborn allows one to appreciate Walter Gerwig’s lute, whilst Linde’s flute playing is eloquent in Gumpelzhaimer’s Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her.
Ameling always sings within expressive limits, neither pushing the voice nor indulging rubato; the vocal balance is excellent in even such a well-known piece as Gesius’s In dulci jubilo, which is once more vested with real generosity. Indeed the whole recital is attractively coloured and affectionately nuanced.
The Tolzer Knabenchor disc lasts just over half an hour and is an altogether simpler and more bonhomonious selection – though, that said, they do relish those crunching harmonies in Lassus’s Angelus ad pastores ait and the almost as startling Resonet in laudibus. The choir has a good amplitude and they do well by the Alpine Carols with their rather rustic tone to the fore. The Salzburg carol Wir woollen dankbar sein is probably the pick of their selection, with its accompanying instrumental writing and harp adding a delightful patina to the sound world.
The Altdeutsche Weihnacht disc was certainly out on a Musical Heritage Society LP in the US but as I noted I’m not aware of it having been around since. A warm welcome back then in refurbished sound and rather limited notes.
Johannes ECCARD (1553-1611)
Ubers Gebirg Maria geht [6.09]
Johann WALTER (1496-1570)
Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ [3.25]
Andreas REUSSNER (c.1660)
Uns ist ein Kindlein heut geborn [2.57]
Adam GUMPELZHAIMER (1559-1625)
Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her [3.30]
Arnolt SCHLICK (c1455-c1525)
Maria zart [4.39]
Michael PRAETORIUS (1571-1621)
In dulci jubilo [6.12]
A solis ortus cardine [7.24]
Es ist ein Ros entsprungen [3.52]
Bartholomaus GESIUS (c 1560-1613)
Christum wir sollen loben schon
Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem
Elly Ameling (soprano)
Bernhard Michaelis (alto)
Hans-Ulrich Mielsch (tenor)
Barry McDaniel (baritone)
Hans-Martin Linde (flute)
Ilse Brix-Meinert and Ulrich Koch (viola da braccio)
Johannes Koch (viola da gamba)
Walter Gerwig (lute)
III. Christmas Music by Michael Praetorius (Parley of Instruments/Westminster Cathedral Choir/David Hill). Hyperion CD CDA66200.
These were the direct result of Martin Luther's liturgical reforms. He wanted the congregation to sing, and to that end he wrote texts and sometimes also music - partly adapted from existing material - which were easy to learn and to memorize. Others followed in his footsteps and wrote large numbers of hymns. In his oeuvre Heinrich Schütz paid little attention to these hymns. Only now and then they turn up in his sacred works, but on the whole their role is marginal. That was very different in the oeuvre of Michael Praetorius, which is largely based on these hymns. That comes as no surprise at several moments in his life he came in close contact with some prolific composers of hymns.
Praetorius was born in Creuzburg an der Werra, near Eisenach, where his father, who had studied with Martin Luther, worked as a pastor. As he did belong to the strict Lutherans he regularly lost his job and had to move. Two years after Michael's birth he had to move again, this time to Torgau. Here Praetorius senior became a colleague of Johann Walter, one of the main composers of hymns, at the Lateinschule. His successor, Michael Voigt, was Michael junior's first musical teacher. He matriculated at the University of Frankfurt an der Oder in 1582, where he became acquainted with Bartolomäus Gesius, another composer of hymns.
In 1595 he entered the service of Duke Heinrich Julius of Brunswick-Wolffenbuttel as organist. His reputation was rising steadily, and in 1604 he was appointed Kapellmeister. Around 1610 he published a large number of collections of music. When his employer died his successor allowed him to work elsewhere for some time. He was in Dresden, where he met Schütz. He also worked in Magdeburg, Halle, Sondershausen and Kassel, and he visited Leipzig, Nuremberg and Bayreuth. It is probably due to overwork that his health deteriorated, which led to his death at the age of 49. His high reputation is reflected by the fortune he left, which was largely to be used to set up a foundation for the poor.
Praetorius oeuvre is unique for its wide variety of forms ad scorings. This is mainly the result of his pursuit to provide directors of music with pieces they were able to perform with the forces they had at their disposal. Therefore we find simple four-part settings of Lutheran hymns and bicinia - largely written for pedagogical purposes - as well as large-scale polychoral pieces in Venetian style. Larger-scale works often included passages for solo voices which show the influence of the Italian stile concertato. In addition Praetorius offered the possibility to adapt his music to local circumstances. Many pieces contain ad libitum parts, which could be left out if only a small number of performers were available. This way his music could be used in large as well as in smaller churches.
Praetorius's oeuvre is huge: he published no less than 12 volumes under the title of Musae Sioniae; the scorings vary from four to twelve voices. Es ist ein Ros entsprungen is taken from one of these volumes. The largest-scale pieces are to be found in the collection Polyhymnia caduceatrix et panegyrica of 1619, with pieces for up to 21 voices. Four pieces on this disc are from this collection: Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, Puer natus in Bethlehem, Vom Himmel hoch and Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern. In these we find the whole array of forces which were used by directors of music at the time: passages for solo voices, episodes for ripieno voices - often used in refrains - and extended parts for instruments. These not only play colla voce but also have independent parts, sometimes as a ritornello, and Praetorius also writes embellished parts for some instruments, like the violin and the cornett.
A special collection was printed in 1621 under the title of Puericinium, which contains pieces for four equal voices, more specifically - as the title indicates - trebles. Lutheran hymns are set in the manner of the stile concertato; the voices are only accompanied by basso continuo. Here again Praetorius offers additional possibilities, like the use of a chorus adultorum, a string ensemble ( capella fidicinia) and extra basso continuo instruments.
With the choice of pieces from various sources this disc provides an interesting survey of Praetorius' oeuvre. It also sheds light on the multi-coloured performance practice of his time, as various options suggested by the composer are practiced. In the three pieces from Puericinium ( Pueri nostri concinite, Quem pastores laudavere, Nun helft mir Gottes Güte schon preisen) we hear not only various solo trebles from the choir, but also the full choir as chorus adultorum and additional instruments.
On the whole the performances are quite impressive. The singers and players strike the right chord here, which is not self-evident in performances of non-German interpreters. I was especially pleased by the phrasing and articulation and the accentuation of single words, which is very much what is needed in German music but sorely missing in so many performances. The German pronunciation is a bit of a problem, though. In particular some vowels are wrong, for instance the "e" which is often too sharp - as the "a" in "and" instead of the "a" in "make". In Nun helft mir Gottes Güte preisen both pronunciations are used at the same time - very odd. But that doesn't take anything away from my great appreciation of this disc. The singing of the solo trebles is very good, and the full choir is sounding great. The acoustics of Westminster Cathedral have been effectively used. In the pieces for solo trebles we hear the four voices from different spots.
The Parley of Instruments delivers colourful performances of the instrumental parts. They are heard independently in the dances from Terpsichore, in our time by far the most famous collection of music by Praetorius. When the music of the renaissance and early baroque was rediscovered these dances were frequently played, usually at a wide variety of instruments, from cornetts and sackbuts to recorder and viol consorts. It seems unlikely this is in line with Praetorius' intentions. These dances are mostly not composed by him, but rather arrangements of existing material, in particular by the French violinist Pierre Francisque Caroubel. Praetorius himself indicates the French origin of these dances and that implies the use of an instrumental ensemble as was in vogue in French dance music. So we hear violin, two violas and a large bass violin. As The Parley of Instruments also uses renaissance violins rather than baroque violins the sound is rather mild and close to renaissance viols.
From every point of view this is an intriguing and captivating disc. Praetorius' sacred music makes a great impression; in large scorings it can be outright overwhelming. His dance music is very entertaining, and the way it is played here offers a new impression of the character of this music. It is great that this disc is available again. I would have liked Hyperion being more specific about the singers - no names are given - and about exactly which dances are performed. Just telling the listener that 'dances' are played doesn't suffice.
|1||Nun Komm Der Heiden Heiland||6:35|
|2||Pueri Nostri Concinite (Singet Und Klinget)||3:47|
|3||Dances From Terpsichore||7:06|
|4||Puer Natus In Bethlehem (Ein Kind Geborn)||6:23|
|5||Quem Pastores Laudavere||6:23|
|6||Von Himmel Hoch||3:28|
|7||Es Ist Ein Ros' Entsprungen||1:23|
|8||Dances From Terpsichore||7:47|
|9||Wie Schön Leuchtet Der Morgenstern||2:36|
|10||Nun Helft Mir Gottes Güte Schon Preisen||3:13|
IV. Schütz Christmas Story (Tavener Consort & Players/Andrew Parrott). EMI LP 27 0428 1.
Devos has the benefit of an excellent Evangelist in the person of Kurt Widmer, whose lively and impeccable enunciation of the German words simply cannot be matched even by the stylish singing of Nigel Rogers. In the Taverner version, Emma Kirkby is radiant in the role of the Angel, David Thomas imperious as Herod in the sixth intermedium but for the remaining solo sections Devos's choice of richer voices, more forwardly placed than Parrott's, has the edge. Parrott's choir for the opening and closing choruses is tiny by comparison with the robust Brussels Scola Cantorum, and it's the Belgians who to my mind communicate more vividly the joy and rhythmic energy of the wonderful conclusion. Perhaps most important, Devos makes more of a story out of the work, encouraging consistently animated delivery from his singers, and opting for a wider range of moods and speeds.
Listen beyond the Christmas Story itself, however, and the balance swings significantly towards Parrott. Michael Praetorius may not be the most skilled or intellectually satisfying composer of his age, but few can match his sense of the bizarre.
Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern
Puer natus in Bethlehem
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme
In dulci jubilo
V. Gregorian and Ambrosian Chant for the Fest of the Epiphany (Schola Cantorum Coloniensis/Gabriel Maria Steinschulte).
With the hegemony of the Roman Rite following the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century, the so-called Tridentine Rite which replaced all but a handful of local variants and held sway until very recently, variants such as the Ambrosian at Milan and the Mozarabic at Toledo were largely side-lined. The Mozarabic is now celebrated in just one side chapel in Toledo Cathedral - celebrated nonchalantly and at a pace to put Olympic sprinters to shame when I attended in the 1960s, as if to indicate its supposed inferiority to the High Mass which followed, with some excruciating singing of Victoria.
The Ambrosian has some claim to be an older liturgy than the Roman, as witness the Creed (CD1, track 14) where it retained the original plural form, Credimus in unum Deum, we believe in one God, reduced to the singular Credo, I believe, in the Roman Mass until the plural was restored in both Roman and Anglican usage in the late 20th century.
This first CD was recorded live on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, in the Church of Great St Martin Cologne. The Epiphany has special significance in Cologne because it celebrates the Visit of the Magi, traditionally supposed to be three Kings, whose tombs are believed to be located in Cologne Cathedral. It begins with music for the First Vespers of Epiphany, celebrated on the preceding day, followed by music for Matins, Mass and Second Vespers of the Feast.
Certain unique features of the Ambrosian Rite are included - the Transitoria for First and Second Vespers (trs. 3 and 24), the Ingressa (tr.9) which takes the place at Milan of the Roman Introit (also included as tr.8) and the Psallenda (trs. 19-20). It must be admitted, however, that the chief differences between the two uses are textual - the Ingressa usually consists of a single scriptural sentence, not a psalm, as is the case with the Roman Introit. The Ingressa for Epiphany, for example, presented on track 9, Civitas non eget sole neque luna ut luceant in ea nam claritas Dei inluminavit eam et lucerna eius est agnus, is taken from Revelation 21:23: The city does not need the sun ... for God’s light illuminates it.
On the whole, the uninitiated are unlikely to hear much difference in the music except in the Gloria in excelsis, the Gregorian tone for which is well known. The Ambrosian setting of this in festive tone (tr.10) is available online for those able to read square-note notation - here - in a version from a 12th-century manuscript. It’s a much simpler setting than that in the Roman liturgy, with generally one note per syllable except that each section is rounded off with melismatic flourishes. The other peculiarity is that it is followed in Ambrosian usage by a threefold Kyrie eleison.
CD 1: Gregorian and Ambrosian Chant for Epiphany
Prologue: Lectio Isaiæ prophetæ [3:20]
Magnificat Antiphon (Gregorian): Tribus miraculis [1:27]
Transitorium (Ambrosian): Hodie cælesti sponso [2:23]
Hymnus (Gregorian): Hostis Herodes impie [2:57]
Antiphon (Gregorian): Hodie nobis beata illuxit [2:55]
Responsorium prolixum (Gregorian): Illuminare Jerusalem [4:53]
Antiphon & Psalm 71: Stella ista [4;16]
Introitus (Gregorian): Ecce advenit [5:44]
Ingressa (Ambrosian): Civitas non eget sole [2:04]
Gloria in Tonus festivus (Ambrosian): Gloria in excelsis Deo [2:58]
Graduale (Gregorian): Omnes de Saba venient [3:37]
Alleluia (Gregorian): Vidimus stellam eius [2:11]
Hallelujah (Ambrosian): Puer natus est nobis [5:09]
Symbolum (Creed, Ambrosian): Credimus in unum Deum [3:26]
Offertorium (Gregorian): Reges Tharsis [9:40]
Communio & Psalm 71: Vidimus stellam eius [3:05]
Responsorium breve (Gregorian): Omnes de Saba venient [1:51]
Magnificat-Antiphon (Gregorian): Videntes stellam Magi [0:30]
Psallenda (Ambrosian): Videntes stellam Magi [0:43]
Psallenda (Ambrosian): Apparuit in mundo [1:22]
Antiphon (Gregorian): O qualem gloriam [0:55]
Magnificat-Antiphon (Gregorian): Admoniti Magi [0:29]
Responsorium (Gregorian): Tria sunt munera [5:01]
Transitorium (Ambrosian): Te laudamus Domine [2:03]
VI. Te Deum Laudamus (Capella Antiqua of Munich/Neideraltaicher Scholars/Konrad Ruhland).
|Te deum patrem (motet) / Christian Erbach --
Kyrie (from Missa super "Josef lieber Josef mein") / Augustin Plattner --
Cantabo domino (from Psalm 103) / Georg Poss --
Laudate dominum (Psalm 116) / Hans Leo Hassler --Magnificat (IV Tini) / Orlando di Lasso --
Hodie Christus natus est (Motet) / Lambert de Sayve --
Veni domine et noli tardare / Hans Leo Hassler --Consolamini popule meus (Motet) / Hans Heugel --
Tribus miraculis (Epiphany antiphon) / Jacobus Gallus (Handl) --Laudate dominum (Motet on verses of Psalm 150) / Gregor Aichinger --
Duo seraphim / Gregor Aichinger --
Sanctus (from "Missa octo vocum") —
VII. Moosburger Graduale 1360: Christmas Cantiones (Capella Antiqua of Munich/Neideraltaicher Scholars/Konrad Ruhland).
|A1||Mos Florentis Venustatis (Transverse Flute, Theorbo, Tenor Fiddle, Tambourine)||1:52|
|A2||Gregis Pastor Tytirus (Transverse Flute, Cittern, Theorbo, Hurdy-Gurdy, Tambourine)||1:22|
|A3||Gaudeat Ecclesia (Flute, Fiddle, Tenor Fiddle, Citern, Theorbo, Tambourine)||1:58|
|A4||Anni Novi Novitas (Alto Recorder, Fiddle, Cittern, Theorbo, Tenor Fiddle, Tambourine)||1:44|
|A5||Nove Geniture (Bells)||2:43|
|A6||Ecce Nomen Domini (Fiddle, Tenor Fiddle, Cittern, Theorbo, Psaltery, Kettle Drum)||1:56|
|A7||Resultet Plebs Fidelis (Transverse Flute, Fiddle, Tenor Fiddle, Cittern, Theorbo, Tambourine, Bells)||2:33|
|A8||Nunc Angelorum Gloria (Fiddle, Tenor Fiddle, Cittern, Theorbo, Psaltery)||3:02|
|A9||Dies Ista Colitur (Transverse Flute, Fiddle, Tenor Fiddle, Cittern, Tambourine)||2:27|
|A10||Ecce Novus Annus Est (Transverse Flute, Fiddle, Tenor Fiddle, Cittern, Theorbo, Nat. Trumpet, Tenor Crumhorn, Psaltery, Bells)||1:07|
|B1||Verbum Patris Humanatur (Transverse Flute, Psaltery, Tambourine, Sleigh-Bells)||1:39|
|B2||Verbum Patris Humanatur (Vocal, Three-part)||1:33|
|B3||In Natali Summi Regis (Vocal)||1:31|
|B4||Dulces Laudes Tympano (Tenor Fiddle, Theorbo, Tambourine, Bells)||1:24|
|B5||Resonet In Laudibus (Transverse Flute, Fiddle, Cittern, Dulcimer-Psaltery, Lute)||5:59|
|B6||Puer Nobis Nascitur (Transverse Flute, Fiddle, Cittern, Theorbo, Tambourine)||1:26|
|B7||Florizet Vox Dulcisonas (Transverse Flute, Fiddle, Tenor Fiddle, Cittern, Theorbo, Tambourine)||2:08|
|B8||Kyrie Magne Deus Potencie (Vocal)||4:25|
|B9||Ite, Benedicti (Transverse Flute, Fiddle, Tenor Fiddle, Cittern, Theorbo, Nat. Trumpet, Kettle Drum, Tambourine, Bells)||1:13|
|B10||Surrexit Christus Hodie (Transverse Flute, Fiddle, Tenor Fiddle, Cittern, Theorbo, Nat. Trumpet, Kettle Drum, Tambourine, Bells)|
JAN OF JENSTEIN (Archbishop of Prague, 1380-96), Guillaume Dufay (c1400-1474), Leonel Power (c1370-1445), Johannes ECCARD (1553-1611), Johann WALTER (1496-1570), Andreas REUSSNER (c.1660), Adam GUMPELZHAIMER (1559-1625), Arnolt SCHLICK (c1455-c1525), Michael PRAETORIUS (1571-1621), Bartholomaus GESIUS (c 1560-1613) , Heinrich Schütz, Christian Erbach, Augustin Plattner, Georg Poss, Hans Leo Hassler, Orlando di Lasso, Lambert de Sayve, Hans Leo Hassler, Hans Heugel, Jacobus Gallus, Gregor Aichinger
Musical Heritage Society LP OR-320, Hyperion CD CDA66200, EMI LP 27 0428 1