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Romanus WEICHLEIN (1650–1706)
Missa Sanctissimae Trinitatis (1702) [41.08]
Missa Gloriosae Virginis in Ceolo (1702) [33.21]
St. Florianer Sängerknaben
Kepler Konsort
Ars Antiqua Austria/Gunar Letzbor
rec. November 2004, St. Florian, Austria.
SYMPHONIA SY 04213 [74.31]


 

I 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.

Not 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. 

Weichlein 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. 

Judging 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.

His musical output included sacred music and instrumental pieces, his Twelve Sonatas for Two Violins, Two Violas and Organ are dedicated to Emperor Leopold I.

Weichlein 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. 

Two 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.

The 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.

The 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 ensemble.

The performance alternates solo and ensemble passages and all the singers make strong soloists. The Latin pronunciation is aptly Germanic.

These 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.

Robert Hugill

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