Xaver BRIXI (1732–1771) Missa di Gloria in D major [45.47]
Organ Concerto No 1 in D major [14.45]
Wagner (soprano); Reiner Schneider-Waterberg (alto);
Bernhard Hirtreiter (tenor); Michael Mantaj (bass);
Christoph Hammer (organ); Concerto Vocale München; Monteverdi-Orchester
rec. 1993, Klosterkirche Ensdorf. DDD HÄNSSLER PROFIL PH06029 [60.32]
Xaver Brixi came from a well known family of Czech musicians,
including a number of distinguished organists and composers.
Frantisek’s father was Simon Brixi (1693-1735), and his
cousin married into the Benda family thus leading to
another Czech musical dynasty.
studied philosophy in Prague and was organist at a number
of churches and monasteries there. By the 1750s he had
a substantial list of sacred compositions to his credit.
He was appointed musical director of St. Vitus’s Cathedral
in 1759 and remained in post until his death. His compositional
style owed something to the Neapolitan school but also
mixed in influences from the Viennese Court composers
such as Caldara. In his life-time his compositions were
popular; though mainly sacred his extensive output includes
two symphonies, concertos for harpsichord and for organ.
di Gloria is a youthful work; the earliest known
copy is dated 1759. It is one of a group of masses
from his early years which set just the Kyrie and Gloria but
do so on an extended scale - the Missa di Gloria lasts
some 45 minutes. The work is laid out for soloists,
four-part choir, strings, two baroque trumpets and
organ continuo. It seems to have been one of his most
popular pieces and copies can be found in many music
set in three parts, comprises a homophonic Kyrie section,
a Christe set for soprano and alto duet and then
a final Kyrie set as an extended fugue. The Gloria is
in ten movements, the joyful opening choral sections
giving way to more thoughtful solo and ensemble passages
with sombre choral passages for the Qui tollis and Miserere.
his extensive output and influence few of Brixi’s works
seem to have found their way into the catalogue so it
is good to have this charming mass available in an attractive
performance. In style it hovers between the world of
early Mozart masses and the earlier baroque period. The
orchestration - for strings and high trumpets - very
much lives in the old world whereas the lively bass lines
and choral writing remind me of early Mozart.
soloists, choir and orchestra acquit themselves admirably;
whilst not strictly virtuoso, Brixi’s vocal writing requires
a degree of control which the soloists find well within
mass is accompanied by the first of Brixi’s organ concertos.
Again we have a fascinating confluence of late baroque
and early classical. To me, the organ concerto form is
redolent of Handel so that Brixi seems to be mixing baroque
forms with classical construction. The organ part is
written for an instrument without a pedal board and is
capable of being played on a harpsichord. For most of
the time, the organist’s left hand simply plays the basso
continuo with the right hand executing the virtuoso passages.
Organist Christoph Hammer is a stylish player, suitably
accompanied by The Monteverdi-Orchester München directed
by Wolfgang Kelber.
tempi are always well judged and his performers turn
in neat performances in both works. The orchestra are
a period instrument band founded by Wolfgang Kelber in
pieces are no forgotten masterpieces, but they would
seem to be the only Brixi masses and organ concertos
available at the moment. As such they give us a fascinating
glimpse into the influential world of mid-18th century
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