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Studio Matous

 

František Ignác TŮMA (1704-1774)
Lytaniae Lauretanae [13:34]
Partita in C minor [17:59]
Stabat Mater [18:21]
Samuel CAPRICORNUS (1628-1665)
Dixit Dominus [3:36]
Justorum Animae [2:33]
Magnificat [4:42]
Prague Madrigalists/Pavel Baxa
rec. February 1993, Church of the Czech Evangelical Church, Prague
Includes English notes. No texts or translations. DDD.
STUDIO MATOUS MK08012931
[61:34]
Experience Classicsonline


Surprisingly, given his considerable historical importance and the quality of his best work, this seems to be the first time that the music of František Ignác Antonín Tůma has made an appearance on the pages of MusicWeb International.

Tůma was born in Kostelec nad Orlicí, where his father, Václav Hynek Tůma was active as an organist. The younger Tůma probably studied at the Jesuit Seminary in Prague, where one of his teachers would have been Bohuslav Matěj Černohorsky (1684-1742), the widely travelled organist and teacher, with whom both Gluck and Tartini also studied, and who was a major influence on the development of music in Bohemia. Tůma later studied with Fux in Vienna. He went on to become kapellmeister to Count Franz Ferdinand Kinsky, High Chancellor of Bohemia, and to work for the dowager Empress Elizabeth, widow of Charles VI.

Tůma’s music occupies, almost to perfection, the transitional space from Baroque to Classical. To listen to it is to be reminded at times of Fux, at other times of early Haydn, at times of Vivaldi, at times of the Mannheim school. Now and then the results are awkward, but more often than not there is an attractive stylistic complexity and tension to the music.

The most substantial work here is a fine setting of the Stabat Mater - one of several that Tůma wrote. It is a quiet and restrained setting, essentially meditative in nature and often very beautiful in its attention to details of the text, as well as being full of subtle counterpoint. The setting of the first two verses is particularly beautiful, and  emotionally expressive without the slightest overstatement at “contristatam et dolentem”. In verses 3 and 4 there is some exquisite writing for the solo soprano and at “Pro peccatis suae gentis” in verse 7 the lower voices are deployed very beautifully. Loveliest of all, perhaps, is the a cappella setting of “Vidit suum dulcem natum … Dum emisit spiritum”, though there is heartbreaking poignancy at “Et mi tibi sociare…”. With its closing fugue, this is a fine, assured piece of work, moving and intelligent, a persuasive expression of spiritual empathy.

In the Partita in C minor one has a greater sense of Tůma’s position at a threshold of stylistic change. There are echoes of Vivaldi and anticipations of Haydn. The whole is slightly odd, taken as a whole, but has some attractive moments. The settings of the Loreto Litanies are more consistent in style, belonging to Tůma’s ‘older’ manner, and though relatively unambitious pieces they impress by their use of counterpoint in a way that never detracts from the prayerfulness of their texts.

The three pieces by Samuel Capricornus are, on the face of it, odd partners for the music of Tůma, belonging as they do a period some seventy five or a hundred years earlier. Actually they provide a point of reference by which one is able to appreciate the stylistic evolution which Tůma represents – as well as being well worth hearing in their own right. Capricornus was a cultured man, well read in theology and philosophy, who worked at various times in Reutlingen, Pressburg, Vienna and Stuttgart. He had an extensive familiarity with Italian music and there are affinities with the tradition of Monteverdi in these three sacred pieces, not least in some of the phrasing in his ‘Dixit Dominus’ or in parts of the attractive ‘Magnificat’. He is a composer of whom we ought to hear more.

The Prague Madrigalists – the name seems to refer both to the eight singers and the seven instrumentalists that we hear here – are an accomplished group of performers and Pavel Baxa is evidently a clear-sighted musical director. They are responsible for a valuable CD which throws light on two neglected figures in the Bohemian tradition.

Glyn Pursglove


 


 




 


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