The Cusp of the Baroque

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Program: #15-48, Air Date: 11/23/15

Three recent releases highlight the musical ferment of the first decades of the 1600s: the brothers Praetorius, the roots of opera, and the remarkable Berlin Gamba Book.

I. Stefano Landi: Arie de cantarsi (Il Festino/Manuel de Grange). Musica ficta CD MF8021.

This recording takes us inside the palaces of early 17th-centrury Rome and presents a fascinating array of compositions that served as background to the lives of the contrmporary aristocracy. As well as pieces by Stefano Landi, there are vocal and instrumental works by Girolamo Frescobaldi and Johann Hieronymus Kapsberger, two musicians who shared with Landi the patronage of the Barberini family. Stefano Landi was a musician who throughout his career was able to develop and significantly alter his compositional style, adapting to his environment. As with many other composers of his generation, his language was initially modelled on Renaissance polyphony before evolving towards solo vocal models intended to suit both chamber and operatic contexts, opera being a genre to whose creation he contributed.

Dagmar Saskova chant
Francisco Javier Mañalich chant & viole de gambe
Ronald Martin Alonso viole de gambe & lyrone
Philippe Grisvard clavecin
Manuel de Grange luth, théorbe, guitare & direction
• V'amai se voi m'amaste & in van lusinghi
• 2
• Piansi un tempo, arsi, gelai
• 3
• fonti del mio dolor
• 4
• Damigella tutta bella
• 5
• se per negarmi aiuto
• 6
• Partita sopra l'aria di follia (Rome, 1615)
• 7
• Aura soave (Rome, 1601)
• 8
• non vuo' perder il cervello
• 9
• Gelido core
• 10
• toccata Vi (Rome, 1611)
• 11
• Chi vuol acqua purissima
• 12
• se l'onde, ohime?
• 13
• Ho'l cor ferito
• 14
• filli cara, filli amata
• 15
• Ciaccona (Alessandro Piccinini) & t'amai gran tempo
• 16non mi dar piu? tormento

II. Praetorius: Pablo Heras-Casado (Balthasar-Neumann Chor und Ensemble/Pablo Heras-Casado). Archiv CD 479 4522.

From AllMusic: Only two of the three composers named Praetorius on this Archiv release are related; Jacob was the son of Hieronymus, while Michael, known mostly for his small dances, was from a different family. But all the music was written between the very end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th, and it is more or less consistent in style. The real appeal of the program is its thematic consistency: although there are a couple of large Magnificat settings, most of the rest is devoted to motets on passages from the Song of Songs, the sexy part of the Bible. At least some were written for weddings connected with the composers themselves, and they respond to the texts in personal, warm, and even humorous ways. Put that together with the fact that all this music is virtually unknown, and it's easy to see why conductor Pablo Heras-Casado is one of the hottest new presences on the early music conducting scene. He gets a precise, lively sound from the only moderately prominent Balthasar-Neumann-Chor und Ensemble of Freiburg, and he is backed by excellent studio sound from the revived Archiv label, which is quickly living down its predecessor's reputation for stodginess. A superb early German Baroque recording.

Hieronymous Praetorius (1560 - 1629) Magnificat quarti toni; Quam pulchra es; Tota pulchra es; Surge propera amica mea; Vulnerasti cor meum; O quam pulchra es

Jacob Praetorius (1586 - 1651) Veni in hortum meum; Indica mihi; Quam pulchra es

Michael Praetorius (1571 - 1621) Nigra sum et formosa; Magnificat per omnes versus super ut re mi fa sol la

III. Berliner Gambenbuch (Juliane Laake, gamba/Ensemble Art d’Echo). Capriccio CD C 5206.

The French Bibliothèque Nationale houses a very rare 17th-century music manuscript full of works for solo viola da gamba. It was acquired in 1880 in Berlin and is generally thought to be a collection of works from the Brandenburg area. This tiny volume, 270 pages long, is a unique treasure-trove of handwritten music, of which only a small fraction has hitherto been published. Only three or four comparable collections exist in the world, none of them as extensive as this one.

Many of the pieces it contains are found only in this book and are mostly of unidentified provenance. This leaves room for speculation: who wrote these works, and - at least as exciting a question - who for?

If it is remembered that the "Great Elector" Friedrich Wilhelm, who was reigning in Brandenburg at the date of these manuscripts, played the viola da gamba himself and gathered around him at court the most famous contemporary exponents of the instrument, this gives an inkling of the significance of this manuscript collection for the music of that era in that region, of which little is known and on which little research has been done.

But not only that region: except in England, vanishingly few collections of 17th-century music for solo viol are extant. Against this background, this CD by the viola da gamba player Juliane Laake, which includes several world first recordings, represents a crucially important contribution to the rediscovery of forgotten music as a whole.

Suite in G Major [Berliner Gambenbuch, 17th Century]
1. I. Allemand [Res. 1111, No. 51] 00:02:15

2. II. Courant [Res. 1111, No. 52] 00:01:04

3. III. Sarraband [Res. 1111, No. 53] 00:02:08

4. IV. Choral: Ich dank dir schon [Res. 1111, No. 54] 00:00:41

5. V. Gigue [Res. 1111, No. 57] 00:01:12

6. VI. Choral: Allein Gott in der Hoh sei Her [Res. 1111, No. 55] 00:02:32

Christmas Suite I [Berliner Gambenbuch, 17th Century]
7. I. Trumpeten [Res. 1111, No. 180] 00:01:39

8. II. Choral: Der Tag der ist so freudenreich [Res. 1111, No. 168] 00:03:54

9. III. Allemand - Variations 1 - 5 [Res. 1111, S. 240] 00:02:22

Christmas Suite II [Berliner Gambenbuch, 17th Century]
10. I. Fantasia [Res. 1111, S. 240] 00:01:03

11. II. Choral: Gelobet seist du Jesu Christ [Res. 1111, No. 167] 00:02:46

Suite in D Minor (scordatura) [Berliner Gambenbuch, 17th Century]
12. I. Choral: Christum wir sollen loben schon - Variation [Res. 1111, No. 166] 00:02:41

13. II. Allemand [Res. 1111, No. 24] 00:01:42

14. III. Courant [Res. 1111, No. 31] 00:02:01

15. IV. Sarraband [Res. 1111, No. 32] 00:02:35

16. V. Choral: Herr, straf mich nicht in deinem Zorn [Res. 1111, No. 22] 00:01:28

17. VI. Choral: Jesu meine Freude [Res. 1111, No. 23] 00:01:28

18. VII. Nun ist all meine Lust [Res. 1111, No. 29] 00:01:14

Suite in G Major (scordatura) [Berliner Gambenbuch, 17th Century]
19. I. Praeludium (Res. 1111, No. 12) 00:01:00

20. II. Allemand (Res. 1111, No. 13) 00:01:40

21. III. Courant (Res. 1111, No. 14) 00:01:28

22. IV. Gavott (Res. 1111, No. 15) 00:00:45

23. V. Sarraband - Variation (Res. 1111, No. 16) 00:02:23

24. VI. Nun schlaft sie schon (Res. 1111, No. 19) 00:00:58

25. VII. Choral: Ach was ist doch unser Leben (Res. 1111, No. 95) 00:00:34

Passions Suite (scordatura) [Berliner Gambenbuch, 17th Century]
26. I. Praeludium (Res. 1111, No. 1) 00:00:57

27. II. Allemand (Res. 1111, No. 7) 00:01:04

28. III. Courant (Res. 1111, No. 9) 00:01:34

29. IV. Choral: Herr nur du stiller verschwiegener Bach (Res. 1111, No. 4) 00:01:33

30. V. Sarraband (Res. 1111, No. 6) 00:02:14

31. VI. Choral: Herzliebster Jesu (Res. 1111, No. 101) 00:01:11

32. VII. Choral: O Traurigkeit (Res. 1111, No. 10) 00:01:00

Oster Suite [Berliner Gambenbuch, 17th Century]
33. I. Choral: O Lamm Gottes unschuldig [Res. 1111, No. 99] 00:03:45

34. II. Choral: Christus, der uns selig macht - Variation [Res. 1111, No. 98] 00:02:39

Suite in B-Flat Major (scordatura) [Berliner Gambenbuch, 17th Century]
35. I. Allemande (Res. 1111) 00:02:17

36. II. Choral: Hast du denn, Liebster, dein Angesicht (Res. 1111, No. 64) 00:01:13

37. III. Ballett (Res. 1111, No. 65) 00:00:43

38. IV. Choral: Nun ruhen alle Wälder (Res. 1111, No. 61) 00:02:50

39. V. Sarraband (Res. 1111, No. 62) 00:01:58

40. VI. Choral: Unser mUden Augenlider (Res. 1111, No. 63) 00:01:33

Composer Info

Hieronymous Praetorius (1560 - 1629), Jacob Praetorius (1586 - 1651), Michael Praetorius (1571 - 1621), Juliane Laake.

CD Info

CD MF8021, Archiv CD 479 4522, CD C 5206.