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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



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Delectamentum: The Feast of Corpus Christi
Hymn: Jesu nostra refectio [2:21] 
Antiphon: Sapientia ædificavit* [1:07] 
Responsory: Quicumque manducaverit* [2:34] 
Responsory: Dominus Jesus in qua nocte* [2:23] 
Antiphon with a Trope: Melchisedec rex Salem [3:49]
Antiphon: Angelorum esca [1:39] 
Guillaume DuFay (c.1400-1474)
Sanctus / Ave verum Corpus* [7:04] 

Reading from the Sermons of St. Thomas Aquinas I. [1:37
Responsory: Verbum vitae carni conjungitur [2:23] 
Sermon II. [1:19
Responsory: Panis oblatus cælitus [2:11
Sermon III. [0:57] 
Te Deum* [5:05] 
Guillaume DuFay
Pange lingua gloriosi* [3:25] 

Introit: Cibavit eos [2:38
Epistle: Ego enim accepi [1:17]
Gradual: Oculi omnium [2:11
Alleluia: Caro mea [4:31
Guillaume DuFay
Lauda Sion
(sequence)* [9:22] 

Offertory: Sacerdotes incensum [1:18] 
Communion: Quotiescumque manducabitis [1:18] 
Schola Hungarica/Janka Szendrei; *László Dobszay
rec. Franciscan Church of Sümeg, Hungary, 18-22 June 2007. DDD.
Texts and translations included
Budapest Music Center Recordings BMCCD140 [60:40] 

 

Experience Classicsonline


With very few reservations, Johan van Veen recommended Schola Hungarica’s earlier recording for BMC (
Budapest Music Center). This was Polyphonic Vespers (BMCCD128) – see review and link there to earlier recordings by this ensemble.  Now they follow up that success with a recording of music from the Office and Mass of the feast of Corpus Christi.  The Vespers CD was rather short value at 47 minutes. The new recording offers a much more reasonable 61 minutes. 

The new recording contains the music for a feast of comparatively late provenance. It celebrates the institution of the Eucharist in a manner not possible in the crowded liturgy of Holy Week, when Maundy Thursday celebrates not only the events of the day before the Crucifixion but also the blessing of the oils for use throughout the year.  With the doctrine of transubstantiation firmly established as the norm of medieval orthodoxy, it was felt important to set aside a day outside Holy Week and Eastertide to celebrate the institution of the Eucharist. The Thursday after Trinity Sunday was chosen for that feast-day. 

Before the regulation of services by both reformers and counter-reformers in the Sixteenth Century, a variety of local rites existed. In England, Sarum or Salisbury use was the most common, but there were important variants centred on York, Hereford and other cathedrals.  Cranmer, in the preface to the first, 1549, English Prayer Book regarded this ‘great diuersitie in saying and syngyng in churches’ as a nuisance to be reformed, ‘in consideracion of the greate profite that shall ensue therof’. The Roman Catholic church, at the Council of Trent, agreed.  There may well have been great profit from the new uniformity, but a great deal of beautiful music became obsolete overnight, except where local usage was so ancient as to be tolerated – especially the Ambrosian rite at Milan and the Mozarabic at Toledo.  As JV explains in that earlier Schola Hungarica review, the reforms of the early 20th Century were equally disastrous. Those of the late 20th Century, in the Roman and Anglican churches, almost drove good church music out into the wilderness. 

Medieval Hungary had its fair share of this beautiful music, local settings of universal texts.  If you followed my recommendation last December (2008) in my Christmas Downloads Supplement to obtain Anonymous 4’s recording of Medieval Hungarian Christmas Music (HCX3957139), you’ll already know how beautiful some of it was.  Add the three pieces by Guillaume Dufay on this new recording and you have the makings of an attractive programme. 

These Dufay pieces are not readily available elsewhere to the best of my knowledge, apart from track 7, the Sanctus/Ave verum Corpus. This has been recorded by Cantica Symphonica on Stradivarius STR33440, a CD of fragments of music for the Mass, Fragmenta Missarum.  Though the Dufay settings stand out from the other items, they do so as first among equals rather than as the proverbial sore thumb. 

None of the music outstays its welcome, though you may find the three readings from Thomas Aquinas, labelled Sermon (trs. 8, 10 and 12) the least congenial.  They are the three readings of the third nocturn of Matins and chanted to a tone similar to the Epistle at Mass (tr.16).  Just sit back and let it soak in if that’s your mood.  If you think that Antiphon with trope sounds boring, just listen to Melchisedec rex Salem, track 5. 

The singing of Schola Hungarica may not be as ethereal as that of Anonymous 4 on the Christmas recording or as finely honed as some of the Binchois Consort’s Dufay recordings that I’ve reviewed recently (The Court of Savoy, Hyperion CDA67715 – see review; Music for St Anthony of Padua, Hyperion Helios CDH55271 – see review). However, they come pretty close in both respects and they’re well recorded.  Though two directors are involved, I wasn’t aware of any qualitative differences between their contributions. 

The notes in the booklet by László Dobszay, are helpful and in readable English, if not always quite idiomatic.  The translations of the Latin text are taken from the Book of Common Prayer, which means that they don’t always correspond with the Latin. Cranmer, translating from the Sarum Breviary and Missal, asks in the Te Deum that we may be numbered with the saints (numerari) where the Hungarian text has the (correct) reading munerari, may we be rewarded. 

The presentation, in a gatefold sleeve, is attractive, though the naïve art on the inner gatefold, attractive as it is, might lead prospective purchasers to expect less than accomplished music and performance. This could hardly be further from the truth. 

If you haven’t yet spent £5 on the Harmonia Mundi CD of Anonymous 4, or downloaded it for slightly less, you should do so now. It’s the kind of Christmas CD that you can play all year round, with not a hint of the Good King Wenceslas anthology that you’re pleased to put away on Twelfth Night.  Otherwise, you may buy the new CD with confidence, unless you’re terminally averse to medieval music, in which case you won’t have been reading this review. 

If you’re still wondering about that strange title, Delectamentum, I can do no better than quote BMC’s own note, adding only that I obtained a great degree of delectation from the CD: 

“The title of this record has three levels of meaning. Delectus = selection: this points to the programme of the record, which is the result of a very special selection. Delectamentum = delight: this implies that the record makes a delightful music – a medieval delicacy, one could say – audible, some of it for the first time in the modern age. And: “Panem de caelo praestitisti eis, omne delectamentum in se habentem – Thou didst send them Bread from heaven having in itself every delight”: this is the most frequently quoted biblical verse of the feast Corpus Christi, and so the title refers to the solemnity (or feast) from which the material for this record was drawn.” 

Brian Wilson 


 


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