KERLL Missa Non sine quare
Symphonia SY 99171
Johann Caspar Kerll (1627-93) was admired by Bach for his 'melodic
ingenuity, contrapuntal finesse and harmonic audacity' and Handel 'borrowed'
many of his tunes for his own compositions. This CD demonstrates easily how
right they were.
Kerll was a major 17.C contrapuntalist who studied in Rome and worked mainly
in Munich and Vienna. In 1658 the Emperor of Austria was personally so impressed
with his music that he raised him to the nobility. Most of his 18 masses
are in stile concertato with various instruments and continuo. This
one was published in Munich 1689 and its unity derives from one of his
Versetti for organ. Kerll said that wind or string instruments should
double the voices and the manuscript specifies 2 violins and organ with violone.
The single parts for each voice dictated a chamber approach and this recording
uses four fresh young voices and six instrumentalists. It is celebratory
music, with no hand wringing in the passages which seek forgiveness for sins,
anticipating the cheerful Masses of Haydn, which were long thought insufficiently
dignified and ecclesiastical. The director discusses the decisions taken,
which include having the cornetto to reinforce the soprano voice in
the ripieno sections.
For the Gradual and Offertory instrumental sonatas are inserted and there
are several vocal compositions included for the Propers, adapting the music
for the same ensemble at hand, in the way that was customary at the time.
The sound engineering is excellent. Voices and instruments sound true and
properly balanced, recorded at the church in Laino, which proved an ideal
venue. Full historical background and musicological discussion is included
in the glossy illustrated booklet for this classy production.
If you have never considered purchasing a CD of 17C church music,
try this one, and play it straight through, as I did for an unplanned extended
breakfast. It will set you up for the day!
Peter Grahame Woolf