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Heinrich Ignaz Franz BIBER (1644-1704)
1 Missa Alleluja à 36, (1698) [26:44]
Johann Heinrich SCHMELZER (c.1620-1680)
2 Vesperae sollennes, [19:13]
3 Sonata No.12 à 8 from Sacroprofanus concentus musicus [4:36]
Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (c.1525-1594)
4 Urbs beata Jerusalem (1589) [4:01]
Johann Jacob FROBERGER (1616-1667)
5 Libro secondo di toccate: Fantasia no 2 (1649) [4:50]
Anonymous (mediaeval chant)
6 Terribilis est locus iste [2:41]
7 Alleluia In dedicatione ecclesiae [2:14]
8 Stetit angelus iuxta aram templi [2:36]
9 Passer invenit sibi dominum [1:31]
10 Deus in adiutorium intende (14th century) [0:19]
11 Domus mea [0:16]
12 Haec est domus Domini [0:25]
13 Bene fundata est [0:15]
14 Lapides pretiosi [0:27]
15 O quam metuendus [0:38]
Gradus ad Parnassum (1, 2, 3, 4)
Concerto Palatino Choir (1, 2)
Vienna Hofburgkapelle (1, 2)
Vienna Hofburgkapelle Choralschola (6, 7, 8, 9, 10,11, 12,13, 14, 15)
Wolfgang Glüxam, organ (5)
Konrad Junghänel (1, 2, 3, 4)
May, 1994, Melk Monastery, Austria. DDD
DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 05472 77326 2 [73:55]

This is another in ArkivMusic’s reissue series: as with all these Arkiv CDs you get a record company-authorised CD-R at a favourable price, a reproduction of the original booklet’s cover and back but the original liner-notes are not included. It’s a programme put together of sixteenth and seventeenth century music from the courts of Vienna and Salzburg with the musical influences on the composers represented, as well as the earlier chant that might have been heard in the course of the mass. The CD’s ‘title’ is Multichoral Sacred Works for Salzburg Cathedral and the Vienna Court Chapel. Biber and Schmelzer take the lion’s share of this CD, though they are nicely complemented by Palestrina and Froberger. A very satisfying little mosaic and expertly played, this CD is thoroughly recommended on all counts.
After a period as violinist at the Salzburg court, Biber became Kapellmeister there in 1684, a post which he held for the last twenty years of his life. Biber was a student of  Schmelzer, although the latter is more closely associated with Vienna, the court at which Froberger also worked. Palestrina, of course, worked in Rome a generation or so earlier but was at the height of his influence when Biber, Schmelzer and Froberger were active.
These are exciting, atmospheric and persuasive performances. No comparative recordings of the major works here are in the current catalogue, although the Sonata No.12 from the Sacro-profanus is coupled with another outstanding Biber Mass, Christi Resurgentis by Manze and the English Concert on Harmonia Mundi (907397) and the Froberger is in volume 1 of Richard Egarr’s Complete Keyboard set on Globe (6022). For these two different reasons if this repertoire interests you or you are new to it and think you would enjoy the magnificence of mid-Baroque choral music, don’t hesitate to buy this excellent CD. Biber’s masses are only now beginning to be seen for what they are… splendid, committed and musically very compelling compositions that make particularly spectacular (though never showy) use of the words of the liturgy in a way that was not picked up again until the Bach Passions.
It’s a repertoire in which Junghänel is particularly at home and has built a solid reputation; his Schütz Symphoniae Sacre discs also on Harmonia Mundi being particularly fine. His direction here is firm and illuminating and it’s obvious he’s both at home in and genuinely revelling the music; the same goes for the singers, who are on top form.
The choral singing in the other music is clean, unforced and – as everything else on this offering – well-recorded (in a monastery whose acoustic is a delight and enhances the music). Wolfgang Glüxam’s brief appearance in the Froberger makes a telling interlude, though the atmosphere isn’t really interrupted. If this is the kind of music the Salzburg and Viennese court was used to, they were lucky indeed!
Mark Sealey


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