must confess that Romanus Weichlein was a name that was new
to me. Born in Linz into a musical
family, Weichlein’s father was organist to the city - though
he also evidently owned a restaurant. Romanus and his brother
Magnus were musical and studied at Lambach monastery where
they both became novices.
much is know about Weichlein’s musical training, but it is
likely that the organist at Lambach monastery, Beniamin Ludwig
Ramaufski, was a significant influence. Apart from that, we
know very little of his musical background.
was ordained in 1678 and went on to be chaplain and musical
prefect of the Benedictine convent of Nonnberg. In 1691 he
became chaplain and musical at the new convent in Säben. Here
he acquired musical instruments for the Nuns and staged theatrical
performances accompanied by music.
from the surviving account, he seems to have been something
of a character. Highly musical and popular with the nuns,
he was prone to violent outbursts and immoderate language.
He was even investigated by a monastic visitor because of
the riots that occurred due to his violent outbursts.
musical output included sacred music and instrumental pieces,
his Twelve Sonatas for Two Violins, Two Violas and Organ are
dedicated to Emperor Leopold I.
composed a set of seven masses for the liturgy in Säben. These
were published in Ulm
in 1702 under the title Parnassus Ecclesiastico – Musicus cum quidusdam suis selectioribus
musis, seu septem missis musicalibus.
The masses are all short and relatively practical; virtuosity
is limited and the masses alternate homophonic and polyphonic
passages. Generally the instrumental parts double the voice
parts, but occasionally the string parts break free and the
first violins soar above the trebles.
of the masses from the group are recorded here, with comparatively
small forces that probably reflect the sort of performance
the masses received in Weichlein’s time.
St. Florianer Sänger Knaben provide boy trebles and altos
(three of each) and the four-man Kepler Consort form the adult
voices, making a ten-strong vocal ensemble. These are balanced
by the eight person instrumental ensemble, Ars Antiqua Austria.
results are vivid and lively with a robust sense of character.
The boys have a vibrant, continental sound and make confident
soloists. The overall feel is of a vocal ensemble, with a
sense of individual voices, rather than a smooth choral ensemble.
Again, this is completely apt for the period. The singers
are well supported by the single strings for the instrumental
performance alternates solo and ensemble passages and all
the singers make strong soloists. The Latin pronunciation
is aptly Germanic.
are attractive, vibrant performances, though they might not
be to everyone’s taste. They are recorded live, which only
adds to their immediacy. But not everyone will like the boys’
distinctive vocal timbre, and it is possible to imagine a
more suave, sophisticated performance. But that is balanced
by the liveliness and richly communicative nature of the singing.