Düben Delights for Soprano
Crato BÜTNER (b.1616)
Laudate pueri dominum VMHS 005:013 [5:58]
Salve rex Christe VMHS 032:001 [6:16]
Vincenzo ALBRICI (1631-1696)
Omnia, qua fecit deus VMHS 001:017 [7:38]
Sinfonia a 2 IMHS 001:002 [5:44]
Johan THEILE(1646-1724)
Ach, dass ich hören sollte dass Gott VMHS 035:015 [5:51]
Ignatio von GNESSEL
Venite ad me VMHS 024:013[5:49]
Augustin PFLEGER
Justorum animae in manu dei sunt VMHS 031:009 [6:41]
Johann Nicolaus HANFF
Ich will den Herrn loben allezeit VMHS 056:001 [7:34]
Anna Jobrant (soprano) and Düben United
rec. January 2009, Hagakyrkan, Göteborg
Texts and translations included
FOOTPRINT FRCD 049 [51:35]

The ensemble sounds like a Scandinavian football team and its individual members are described in the booklet in terms of confectionery (‘Frederik is dark chocolate…‘Millis’ is a velvety white champagne bonbon…’) but beyond all this stuff, there is some serious musicological work on offer. The Düben Collection is one of the most important collections of seventeenth century music, and is housed in Uppsala University. It was acquired by Gustav Düben, Kapellmeister to the Swedish court between 1663 and 1690. A significant amount of the music is unique to this collection.

Crato Butner flourished as a church musician in Danzig and his highly engaging Laudate pueri dominum gets the disc off to a vivacious start. There are a few quite spicy harmonies, and a splendidly realised slowing for the concluding Gloria. A composer who courts the ranks of the largely obscure is Didaco Philitari, whose dates are unknown. A collection of his music, published in Antwerp in 1645, described him as a priest in Rome. The piece here was originally a Salve Regina, but its text has been revised for a Lutheran service. There are some florid runs amidst the warm and expressive music-making. Albrici, another Roman, visited Stockholm in 1652 and maintained links with Düben. His Omnia, qua fecit deus is a motet for soprano, two violins and a basso continuo. The virtuosic demands of the piece, with its rapid ornamentation, attest to the high standards cultivated at the court – there were apparently some virtuosic castratos available to sing such parts. A cadential passage over a pedal note is especially striking as indeed are the repeated, quasi-echo effects. This dramatic piece is well worth getting to know.

Thiele is better known and contributes Ach, dass ich hören sollte dass Gott, a work of fluent, fluid cohesion. Ignatio von Gnessel, or ‘Gebsel’ or ‘Ghesel’ or indeed ‘van Ghesel’ is another clearly obscure figure. No one seems to know whether he was German or Flemish or really from which country he sprang. Venite ad me is replete with tremolandi, warm string textures and excellent melodic appeal. A blank he may be biographically, but certainly not compositionally. This is a highly effective work. An instrumental moment follows: Albrici’s sonata for two violins and basso continuo, which is both a fine piece – scope, imagination, drama - and also receives an excellent performance here. Pfleger’s Justorum animae in manu dei sunt has stately dignity, and finally we hear Ich will den Herrn loben allezeit which may, or may not, be by the organist Johann Nicholaus Hanff. This alternates between florid and contemplative writing, integrating an important part for the violin. Once again it displays the high level of musical accomplishment contained in the collection and the equally persuasive performances that bring the works to life.

The burden is borne especially by soprano Anna Jobrant who sings with considerable precision and a good tone. The virtuosic demands are considerable but she meets them squarely. At the top of her range she can sound a little pinched, and the Albrici shows this in particular. But she and her colleagues perform splendidly throughout and have been well recorded.

Jonathan Woolf

Some serious musicological work on offer.