Gerard Hoffnung CDs
Heinrich FINCK (1444-1527)
Missa Dominicalis [28:08]
Veni redemptor dominum (Hymnus) [06:10]
Rorate coeli (introitus) [04:15]
Audi filia (tractus) [03:39]
Ecce virgo (communio) [01:48]
Deo dicamus regi potenti (Natalis Domini cantica) [02:16]
Von hin scheid ich [04:34]
Auf gut Gelück [02:40]
O schönes Weib [02:48]
Habs je getan [02:52]
Mein herzigs G [03:18]
Ach herzigs Herz [02:32]
(Franz Vitzthum, (alto); Klaus Wenk, (tenor); Gerhard Hölzle,
(tenor); Marcus Schmidl, (bass))
rec. 2005, Studio of Cavalli-Records, Bamberg, Germany. DDD
RECORDS CCD325 [65:06]
The 15th and 16th centuries were dominated by composers
from the Low Countries, a group generally known as the 'Franco-Flemish
school'. Their style was imitated by composers from other
regions. Most recordings of sacred music of the renaissance
concentrate on composers who are part of that mainstream.
But not everyone was part of it. In Germany some composers
followed their own path, and Heinrich Finck is one of them.
Not much is known about him although some information has
come down to us through his great-nephew Hermann Finck in
his Practica Musica (1556). But as he didn’t know Heinrich
personally and relied on what others had told him, there
is no guarantee that his account of Heinrich's life and career
Finck was born in Bamberg in Bavaria, probably to a wealthy middle
class family. If Hermann Finck is correct Heinrich spent
his youth in Poland and there entered the service of the
king. In 1482 he matriculated at the university of Leipzig.
He must have been held in high esteem, as he was called 'bonus
cantor', a designation usually given to a musician of fame.
It seems he returned to Poland, which he left again in 1492,
being, by his own account, a poor man. He travelled to find
a proper job, but to no avail. Around 1500 he spent time
in Lithuania, and later moved to Poland again until 1510.
He worked in Stuttgart for some time, then in Bavaria, after
which he moved to Salzburg, and spent the last years of his
life in Vienna.
Almost none of Finck's compositions from before 1500 have survived.
Likewise many works from the last twenty years of his life
have disappeared. What has been left is enough, though, to
follow the changes in his composing style during what was
for those days a very long life. This disc presents a profile
of Finck's output. Although not connected to composers from
the Franco-Flemish school that style was so dominant that
the Missa Dominicalis performed on this disc bears its influence.
It is a cantus firmus setting of the Ordinary, in which the
plainchant melodies are always present, although treated
in different ways.
Apart from the Mass this disc offers a hymn for the Vespers
and the Propers for the Mass on Annunciation. The hymn is
in alternatim style: the verses are sung alternately in plainchant
and then polyphonically. Remarkable is the opening phrase
of the Introitus 'Rorate coeli': a strong ascending line
sung by the upper voice – an eloquent rhetorical gesture.
The songs on German texts are an important part of Finck's oeuvre.
They were among few Finck works which were published, although
posthumously. They belong to the genre sometimes referred
to as 'Tenorlieder'. A polyphonic web is woven around a melody
sung in the tenor. This genre was very popular in Southern
Germany, and Ludwig Senfl was especially famous for this,
but Finck's songs are certainly not to be neglected. It seems
that some of the texts were written by Finck himself.
The German vocal ensemble Stimmwerck was founded in 2001 in Munich
with the objective of performing music by lesser-known composers.
This disc is the first in a series presenting music by composers
active in Germany. The sound of the ensemble is crisp and
clear, and the balance between the voices is very good. The
upper voice is stretched to the limits, but Franz Vitzthum
holds his ground impressively.
The pronunciation of the Latin texts is strictly German and
in the German songs the ensemble has also looked for a historical
approach. "Stimmwerck presents here a CD on which a
reconstructed pronunciation of early New High German is employed.
It is based on the orally preserved pronunciation of Southern
German, which however in the nineteenth century, during the
course of the standardization of the German language, also
experienced a certain standardization." This underlines
how difficult it is to figure out how exactly the texts were
pronounced in early times. But any attempt to come closer
to it is worth the effort. One can only agree with Andreas
Pfisterer and Gerhard Hölzle, who write in the booklet that "the
use of modern-day pronunciation would in any case distort
the historical tonal image".
Stimmwerck has started a very interesting and important project and
this first disc is promising. I recommend it alike to anyone
who wants to enhance his knowledge of music of the renaissance
era and also to anyone just interested in good music.
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