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Amando Ivančić OSPPE (1727-1790?)
Missa Solemnis [38:30]
Regina Coeli [1:11]
Salve Regina [3:31]
Litania de B. Maria Virgine [21:38]
Anna Mikołajcyzk (soprano); Piotr Olech (alto); Krzysztof Szmyt (tenor); Mirosław Borczyński (bass)

Sine Nomine
Concerto Polacco/Marek Toporowski
rec. Evangelical-Reformed Church, Warsaw, March 2006. DDD
Jasnogorska Muzyka Dawna Vol.13.
DUX 0352 [59:15]

The Monastery of Jasna Góra, a house of the Pauline Fathers, is one of the major sites of pilgrimage in Eastern Europe, not least because of the beautiful fourteenth century Icon of the Virgin and Child which is housed there. It is sometimes called the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, and was, legend has it, the work of St. Luke and painted on a table-top from the house of the Holy Family. Some readers may be familiar with Górecki’s O Domina Nostra: Meditations on Our Lady of Jasna Góra (op.55), for soprano and organ, written in the 1980s, while Andrzej Panufnik’s Eighth Symphony (the Sinfonia Votiva of 1982) was designed as a votive offering to the icon. But Jasna Góra’s musical connections go back much further than such modern works.

Indeed the archives of Jasna Góra contain some 3,000 musical manuscripts by some 120 different composers, contributions to the length musical life of the monastery. The turbulent political history of Poland throughout the twentieth century prevented much serious study of this material until recently. Now a society and a team of researchers, headed by Remigiusz Pośpiech, have been established, charged with the task of examining these archives, of editing material from them (and of associated material from other archives) and with preparing chosen materials for performance and recording. It is an exciting project. This present recording, however, is of music from a related archive, though it appears under the general banner of the Jasna Góra project.

Very little seems to be known of the life of Father Amando Ivančić. Of Croatian origins, he was baptised Matthias Leopold Ivančić on Christmas Eve of 1727 in Wiener Neustadt; we know that he entered the Pauline Order in 1744 - taking the name Amandus/Amando - and that he spent some years in a monastic house in Graz. He later spent some considerable time teaching in the town of Trnava in modern Slovakia. Certainly he was relatively prolific as a composer – of church music, of symphonies and divertimenti and of chamber sonatas - particularly works for flute. Works by Ivančić have turned up in archives in Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria and Germany, as well as in Slovakia and Poland.

The archive of Jasna Góra contains only one work by Ivančić – a Mass in C. The works recorded on the present CD are preserved elsewhere. They were discovered by the Polish musicologist Aleksandra Patalas in Modra, near Bratislava, where, after many misfortunes at the hands of earlier communist governments, there were preserved what remains of the papers of the Piarist monastery of Podolinec - also in modern Slovakia.

Ivančić’s Missa Solemnis largely employs the idioms of contemporary classicism. This may not be an especially individual setting, but there are some attractive passages and the whole work has an impressive dignity; there are touches reminiscent of Baroque church music and passages which make one think, rather, of Haydn. In the Gloria the writing for soprano is particularly fine, the melodic lines graceful, the rhythms quite complex, all complemented by some inventively decorative writing for the violins. The Credo is of interest, in the way in which the early monophonic texture is broken only at the words "et incarnatus", with a switch to the minor and to vocal interplay. The decoration of individual words – such as "crucifixus" – is often both beautiful and moving. In the Agnus Dei voices and instruments conduct a constantly interesting dialogue. The work ends quietly, the closing "dona nobis pacem" set with great delicacy and relative austerity of means.

The setting of Regina Coeli is competent but modest in its ambitions – doubtless reflecting the (unknown) circumstances for which it was originally written. The Salve Regina is largely carried by the soprano - here the excellent Anna Mikołajcyzk - and, not for the first time, Ivančić shows himself to be a composer who can write with particular sympathy for high voices.

In a CD of music issued under the auspices, as it were, of the Madonna of Jasna Góra it is entirely fitting that the programme should include a setting of the Loreto Litany, the Litania de Beata Maria Virgine, and especially fitting that it should be a particularly impressive work. The vocal forces are complemented by organ and two violins. Different vocal soloists are given prominence at various points, and the soloists combined in a variety of (chiefly) duet combinations. The writing is powerfully expressive, at times solemn, at times dancingly syncopated; the whole makes a fine and radiant piece.

All the performers, soloists, choir, orchestra and conductor alike, are significant, experienced figures on the early music scene in Poland … and beyond. Insofar as one can judge without access to scores or to alternative performances, they seem to do full justice to the music. Certainly all are thoroughly competent, the performances directed with an assured understanding of the relevant musical idioms.

Full Latin texts are provided along with Polish translations. There are very good booklet notes in English, translated from the Polish of Alina Mądry.

Glyn Pursglove



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