Jubilate Deo - Early Baroque Festive Music for the Christmas
Johann STADLMAYR (1575?-1648)
Domine Dominus noster [5:52]
Exaltabo te Domine [4:49]
Venite filii [5:15]
Exultate Deo [7:31]
Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585-1672)
Rorate coeli desuper (SWV 322) [3:05]
Giovanni GABRIELI (1557-1612)
O Jesu mi dulcissime (C 24) [3:48]
O magnum mysterium (C 3) [3:15]
Hodie Christus natus est (C 133) [2:41]
Magnificat (C 32) [3:53]
Verbum caro factum est (SWV 314) [4:21]
Missa Jubilate Deo [16:17]
Orpheus Chor München, Les Cornets Noirs/Gerd Guglhör
rec. 25-27 November 2011, St. Markus, Munich, Germany. DDD
Texts with German translations
OEHMS CLASSICS OC 839 [61:42]
Although this disc comprises music for Advent and Christmas by three composers,
the central figure is Johann Stadlmayr to whom the largest part of the liner-notes
is devoted. He is one of the lesser-known composers of the 17th century, and
his oeuvre is not well represented in the catalogue.
Stadlmayr was born in Freising in Bavaria. The first sign of his activities
as a composer is a collection of 8-part masses which - according to a catalogue
from 1611 - was printed in 1596; this collection has been lost. After the turn
of the century he entered the service of the archbishop of Innsbruck; in 1604
he was appointed vice-Kapellmeister and then Kapellmeister. In
1607 he was appointed to a similar position at the court of Archduke Maximilian
II. Stadlmayr remained in Innsbruck for the rest of his life. The years from
1618 to 1624 were difficult, though. Maximilian died in 1618 and his successor,
Leopold V, disbanded the court chapel. It was hard for Stadlmayr to support
his large family; for that reason he worked as a government meat inspector.
In 1619 his wife died; he remarried in 1621. It was apparently his application
for a post in Vienna which made Leopold change his mind. Stadlmayr was restored
to his former position with an increased salary. It was the start of a golden
era for the chapel. After Leopold's death in 1632 his widow continued to support
the chapel, despite the heavy financial burden of the Thirty Years War. She
also made the publication of some of Stadlmayr's compositions financially possible.
Stadlmayr's oeuvre is quite large, and comprises only sacred music. He was held
in high esteem, as the dissemination of his works and their inclusion in various
anthologies show. Michael Praetorius praised him as "noble contrapunctista and
musician". In his early works he is clearly influenced by the style which was
practised in Venice. This disc contains one example, the Missa Jubilate Deo
from a collection of 8-part masses which was printed in 1610. In his works from
this period he juxtaposes polyphonic episodes and passages with homophony. He
also pays much attention to the optimal clarity of the text. The Venetian influence
is the reason that four pieces by Giovanni Gabrieli are included in the programme.
We also hear two pieces from the Kleine Geistliche Konzerte by Heinrich
Schütz. These reflect the modern concertante style from Italy which was
also practised by Monteverdi. The reason is that in Stadlmayr's later works
traces of this style can be found. You can hear this in the collection of motets,
from which the other pieces on this disc are taken, and which was printed in
1645. In these motets solo episodes in monodic style are embedded in a polyphonic
texture for the full ensemble. In the liner-notes it is mentioned that before
Stadlmayr's oeuvre was thoroughly explored several of his works were attributed
to Schütz. This is an indication that there are some stylistic similarities.
These would have come more clearly to the fore if some works from Schütz's
oeuvre had been chosen which show stronger similarity in structure with those
In most pieces the voices are joined by the instruments of Les Cornets Noirs:
two violins, two cornetts and four sackbuts, with cello, theorbo and organ playing
the basso continuo. In Giovanni Gabrieli's motets the addition of instruments
was usually left to the performers, but in Stadlmayr's works the instruments
have independent parts, which is another sign of their modern character.
The singing of the choir and the playing of the instruments is generally very
good. The soloists also do a good job in the solo passages in the motets, and
they sing the two sacred concertos by Schütz very well. So far so good.
The approach of this repertoire is based on a fundamental misunderstanding,
though. The list of performers includes seven soloists, a choir and an instrumental
ensemble. In the 17th century there were no such things as vocal soloists and
choirs in sacred music. Pieces like these were sung by an ensemble whose members
took care of solo passages when necessary. The Orpheus Chor München is
a fine ensemble but far too large for this repertoire. The members are not listed
in the booklet, but if the picture is anything to go by then their number is
over fifty. The effects are detrimental: the contrasts between soli and tutti
are too large and the solo passages are not naturally integrated in the ensemble.
There is a lack of transparency which sometimes makes the text hard to understand.
Passages in a swift tempo, for instance at the end of Gabrieli's O Jesu mi
dulcissime, would have gained from the agility a smaller vocal group possesses.
I don't really understand why Gerd Guglhör insists - as in previous recordings
- on performing 17th-century music with such large forces. It’s a decision
at odds with all we know about common practice at the time and it has a negative
effect on the outcome. That is especially hard to understand as he always makes
use of historical instruments. A performance with such large forces has little
to do with historical performance practice, though.
Even so, this disc is well worth investigating because of the mass and motets
by Stadlmayr. There are very few discs which pay attention to his oeuvre, and
that makes this disc welcome, despite its shortcomings.
Johan van Veen
Well worth investigating, despite some serious shortcomings.