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Tilman Riemenschneider (c.1460-1531) -The Music of His Time
ANONYMOUS Mein Herz in Freuden sich erquicket; Basse Danse ‘La Magdalena’; Tourdion; Basse Danse ‘La gatta’; Zenner, greiner, wie gefelt dir das?; Groß Sehnen ich im Herzen trag; Ich tät mir auserwählen; Der gestreifft Dantz – Gassenhaur; Se hyn mein hercz; Ich spring an diesem ringe; Wir zogen in das Feld; Es solt ein man kein mole farn; Der wallt hat sich entlaubet; Ich sachs eins mals; Elselein; Der Vöglein Art; Katzenpfote; Alle furf; Canto dei lanzi allegri; Es wolt ein Jäger jagen; Alma redemptoris mater
Jean MOUTON (before 1459-1522) / Jamais
Heinrich FINCK (1444/5-1527) / Greiner, zanner
Paul HOFHAIMER (1459-1537) / Greyner, zanner, eifrer
Johann WALTER (1496-1570) / Aus tiefer Not
Thomas STOLTZER (c. 1480-1526) Ich klag den Tag; Entlaubet ist der Walde
Heinrich ISAAC (c. 1450-1517) / Innsbruc, ich muß dich lassen
Erasmus LAPICIDA (c. 1440-1547) / Tanderlanken
Jacob OBRECHT (c. 1457/8 – 1505) Rompeltier (Rumfeltiere, Rumfeldare); Missa Caput: Kyrie
Johannes OCKEGHEM (c. 1410-1497) Alma redemptoris mater; Venit ad Petrum
Il Curioso: Melanie Bogisch – recorder, flute, crumhorn, bombarde, rauschpfeife; Johanna Klinger – recorder, flute, crumhorn, bombarde, percussion; Nadine Merzbacher – recorder, crumhorn, shawm, percussion; Bernhard Böhm – recorder, flute, crumhorn, rauschpfeife, shawm; Martin Hummel - baritone; Bernhard Böhm, Director
Hedos Ensemble: Harmut Hein – baritone; Bernhard Böhm – recorder, transverse flutes, bagpipe, rauschpfeife; Jürgen Hübscher – renaissance lutes, vihuela, percussion (spoons); Michael Spengler – viola da gamba;
Recorded at Kloster Bronnbach, and Mainfränkisches Museum, Würzburg, 28-30 September 2002 DDD
NAXOS 8558145 [74:54]

I cannot think of any other disc that I have yet encountered where the title artist had less to do with the works presented than "Riemenschneider: Music of His Time". Tilman Riemenschneider was a largely forgotten sculptor from northern Germany who, though highly influential in his own time, now has few works extant or even well remembered. Indeed, we have no reason to believe that Riemenschneider ever played a musical note. His contribution to this album seems to have been to provide the photographer with a chance to present his few surviving pieces of sculpture and to have given chronological and geographic bounds to the artists when selecting the musical works that would be performed. The music on this CD consists largely of works by composers who likewise have been forgotten, even in name, though some of the giants of German early music, including Johannes Ockeghem, Paul Hofhaimer, and Jacob Obrecht are represented.

Even so, being the fan of early music that I am, I always enjoy the rich polyphony and variety of timbres that went out of style during the Baroque era. The Germany of 1450-1531 was a region of many principalities dominated by the church as its primary binding force, even when that foundation was shaken by Martin Luther in 1517 with his ninety-five theses.

The music presented is well performed and recorded, with a representative diversity of instrumentations. On one piece you will encounter the gentle tranquillity of a lay or lament accompanied by recorder ensemble; on the next you may find the brittle bombast of a choir of crumhorns or perhaps shawm, rauschpfeife and bombarde. The vocal pieces are presented with accompaniment appropriate to the period, often with recorders and occasionally a renaissance lute and viola da gamba. You are allowed to sample the musical tapestry that a Northern German of the late 15th century would have enjoyed, and with excellent performances that would have represented the best musicians of the era.

The non-anonymous composers on this disc would have been well known to these musicians, most of them being either from Germany or having worked there and garnered fame and adoration during their own lifetime. Johann Walter was a key figure in the early Lutheran church, Paul Hofhaimer an internationally known organist, and Jacob Obrecht and Johannes Ockeghem were court musicians and composers who are still studied by musicians today. The works by these men that were selected are excellent examples, and illustrative of what it took to become renowned in that far off world. Also of interest to the amateur musicologist is the comparative selection of Alma redemptoris mater, originally a plainchant as presented, and reconstructed by Ockeghem, making the piece his own through his innovative use of polyphony, creating beautiful sounds that must make angels cry.

I am somewhat at a loss why Riemenschneider was selected to bear the standard of the album. One would think that if you were to choose an artist unrelated to music to represent these works that Albrecht Dürer might have been able to better commend the era with a recognizable name. However, the disc as a whole is excellent. It does a good job of presenting someone who would want a better knowledge of early German music a solid foundation. For the serious fan of early music, this again more than does the music selected justice without overburdening the listener with a collection of all surviving works of a single composer. I can honestly say that I enjoyed my time listening to this album, and feel I must recommend it highly.

Patrick Gary

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