Most countries experience a 'Golden Era' at some time during
their history. Both England and Denmark went through such a
period in the decades around 1600. In both countries it was
the royal court which played a key role in the flowering of
Whereas in England most musicians at and near the court
were from the country itself, at the Danish court foreigners
held the main positions. Players and composers from outside
Denmark like John Dowland from England and Heinrich Schütz from
Germany came and went all the time.
Bartholomaeus Stockmann was another composer from Germany,
who composed music for the Danish court. Very little of his
biography is known. It is only through the title page of the
collection of motets recorded here that we know he was born
in Brunswick. The year of his birth is a mystery. In 1583 he
was cantor at the Grammar School in Flensburg in what is now
known as Schleswig-Holstein, the German state which borders
Denmark. He seems to have left that position rather soon because
of a conflict. He stayed there and spent some time in prison.
In 1587 he was engaged as a bass singer at the court in Copenhagen
during the reign of Frederik II. When the King died in 1588
Stockmann composed the music for his funeral, which unfortunately
has not been preserved. The last traces of Stockmann's presence
in Denmark date from 1590. From then on nothing is known about
This disc presents all the music by Stockmann which has
come down to us. The largest part consists of the nine motets
collected in 'Musica Nuptialis', which dates from 1590. These
wedding motets were written for several occasions. The first
two are dedicated to Princess Elisabeth and Duke Heinrich Julius
of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel on the occasion of their wedding
on 19 April 1590 at Kronborg Castle. For three of the other
motets we know for which weddings they were written; the remainder
have no indication of names or occasions.
The three last items by Stockmann on this disc were written
for his friend Hans Hartmann, who owned the so-called 'Flensburg
Collection', which these motets are part of, and which he gave
to the St Nicolai Church in Flensburg in 1603. These are so-called
'congratulatory motets', all composed on Hartmann's 'symbolum',
a religious text or motto associated with him. In this case
it is the fifth verse of Psalm 37: "Commit thy way to the
Lord, and hope in him: and he shall bring it to pass. Reveal
thy way to the Lord, and hope in him: and he shall bring it
to pass". Stockmann has set this text twice in Latin and
the first line another time in German.
As these motets are the oldest pieces which were with certainty
composed in Denmark, they are of historical importance. Their
musical value is less impressive, as there is little that makes
them stand out among the many vocal works composed at the time.
For example, there are surprisingly few examples of text expression.
Madrigalisms - which appear frequently in both sacred and secular
vocal music of that time - are almost absent. The music is well
sung by the Capella Hafniensis, even though sometimes the upper
voices tend to dominate. They produce a clear and pleasant sound
and give stylish interpretations. It probably would have been
a good idea to perform some motets with instruments colla parte.
It is reasonable to assume that weddings of royal or aristocratic
personalities were celebrated with a little more pomp than we
The rest of this disc is devoted to pieces from one of
the most important manuscripts of organ music of the late 16th
century, the so-called 'Danzig Tablature'. It contains some
original Fantasias, and a number of intavolations of vocal works,
five of which Allan Rasmussen has chosen for this disc. The
inclusion of these pieces on this disc is entirely based on
historical guesswork: the author could be Cajus Schmiedtlein,
the music was probably written in the 1580s, when Schmiedtlein
was working in Denmark as an organist. The historical basis
for the connection of these organ pieces with the motets by
Stockmann is rather thin. Rasmussen does play them well, though,
and the music is of fine quality. They give some idea of the
kind of music organists played in those days, and which vocal
pieces were the most frequently arranged.
To sum up: this disc is more interesting for historical
than for musical reasons. I doubt whether this repertoire will
appeal to many people outside Denmark or Northern Germany.