Konferenz Mitteldeutscher Barockmusik
(Permanent Conference on Central German
Baroque Music) is a so-called 'beacon'
" with the goal of "demonstrating
the significance and importance of baroque
musical developments in the cultural
area of central Germany, to preserve
and document its accomplishments and
achievements and to promote its research
and to support the promotion of it in
the international music scene". Part
of the activities of this organisation
is the annual 'Day of Central German
Baroque Music'. After that a recording
of one of the concerts is released.
The present disc contains the concert
given on 19 June, 2001 in the Katharinenkirche
in Zwickau by the Ensemble ‘Alte Musik
Dresden’. One of the most attractive
aspects of these recordings is the fact
that they usually contain a number of
compositions which have never been recorded,
often even never performed before. That
is also the case here.
The concert was concentrating
on music from manuscripts preserved
in the 'Ratsschulbibliothek' at Zwickau.
This library contains music from the
time before the Reformation, originating
from the cloisters of Zwickau, but also
compositions from elsewhere in Europe,
like Venetian collections of secular
music, and collections of music from
the 16th and 17th centuries. Some of
the compositions in the library haven't
been found elsewhere.
The programme consists
of music from about 150 years. The earliest
is a motet by David Köler; it is
written in the polyphonic style of the
renaissance, but not on a Latin text,
but in German. It is immediately followed
by the latest work on the disc, Johann
Löhner's sacred concerto 'Zerfliesset
in ein Tränentauen', a 'lamento'
which was a popular form in the second
half of the 17th century.
The rather wide time
span of the programme is a little bit
problematic, though. As a result there
is a lack of coherence, which is enhanced
by the fact that the pieces on this
disc aren't linked thematically either.
The programme begins with four wedding
motets, but also contains a 'lamento'
and a setting of the Te Deum, in which
polyphony and plainchant are alternating,
reflecting its liturgical character.
Some of the pieces
are performed ‘a cappella’, in others
instruments are playing 'colla parte'.
That is generally justified, perhaps
with the exception of Luca Marenzio's
motet 'Jubilate Deo'. Marenzio worked
at the papal court in Rome the largest
part of his life, and there the performance
practice was predominantly 'a cappella'.
There are some nice
examples of expression of content here,
like in the third item, where "die zwei
verliebten Herzen" (the two hearts in
love) are illustrated by the frequent
imitation between pairs of voices throughout
On the whole the music
is well performed. The least satisfying
item is Köler's motet 'Eile, Gott,
mich zu erretten', in which elements
in the text are emphasized, which is
the right thing to do in music of the
'seconda prattica', but not in compositions
rooted in the 'prima prattica' where
music is basically more important than
Although I was able
to notice now and then that the singers
pay much attention to the text, I often
simply didn’t understand what exactly
they were singing. The booklet doesn't
help here, since the lyrics are not
printed. It also fails to mention which
singers are singing the solo parts in
Löhner's lamento and the 'song
of thanksgiving' 'Fürstliche Gnade
zu Wasser und Lande' by Schütz.
They are singing these pieces quite
well, with stylish ornamentation. In
both cases the instrumentalists – not
named in the booklet - have ample opportunities
to display their qualities.
To sum up, this is
a quite interesting release with mostly
totally unknown music, in regard to
quality certainly worth hearing.
Johan van Veen