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Missa! Hans Leo HASSLER (1564-1612) Toccata in G minor [2:06] Orlando di LASSUS (1532-1594) Missa super Osculetur me [16:31] Girolamo FRESCOBALDI (1583-1643) Messa della Madonna:
Canzon dopo la Pistola [1:56],
Ricercar dopo il Credo [2:29],
Toccata per l’élevation [2:56] Vytautas MIŠKINIS (b.1954) Angelis suis Deus [4:27] John COOK (1918-1984) Fanfare [4:53] Eric WHITACRE (b.1970) Alleluja [7:51] Ko MATSUSHITA (b.1962) Ubi Caritas [3:51]
Pater noster [3:34]
O salutaris hostia [4:10] Christian ERBACH (1570-1635) Canzon del quarto tono [2:53] Harald FELLER (b.1951) Te Deum [9:11]
Peter Bader (organ) Carl Orff Choir of Marktoberdorf/Stefan Wolitz
rec. Stiftskirche St. Philippus und Jakobus, Bad Grönenbach, July 2015 (choir), Basilica of St Ulrich und Afra, Augsburg, June
2015 (organ solos) OEHMS OC1843 [67:11]
This lovely CD takes as its starting point an idea that I do not recall having come across before; music written for the Mass in the aftermath of two of the most significant revisions in the Catholic liturgy. The programme comprises music written at the time of the Council of Trent (1545-1563), and music written after the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
If that sounds like a recipe for a somewhat narrow window of two radically different musical styles, the ingeniously planned programme coupled with the excellent delivery of it by the Carl Orff Choir elevates it into a richly rewarding, varied and immensely satisfying listening experience. The added spice of some fabulous organ solos wonderfully played by Peter Bader on the Sandtner Organ of St Ulrich and Afra, Augsburg makes it simply irresistible.
The organ dates from 1981-2, includes some pipes from an earlier 1903 instrument and was renovated and expanded in 1998. Helped by the church’s ample acoustic it makes a magnificent noise, best displayed in the spectacular Te Deum by Harald Feller. Anglophiles disappointed at the lack of an English-style Tuba for John Cook’s jaunty Fanfare need not worry; Bader’s playing is so robust and spirited that his alternatives – a fistful of reed-based stops – is more than adequate to do the trick. As for the three Frescobaldi pieces, the Toccata by Hassler and the Canzon by Christian Erbach, Bader’s immense understanding of the style and his ability to pick out exactly the right stops to sound right and yet maintain real aural interest ensures these are captivating performances, successful as authentically-driven readings as well as powerfully communicative interpretations.
Tremendously invigorating and stylistically assured as the organ solos are, the real glories of this CD lie in the choral singing which is, in a word, outstanding.
Stefan Wolitz reveals a knack of being able to get his singers to switch completely between the two principal stylistic areas. They have integrity and tight focus in the early 17th century works and real colour and richness of tone in the late 20th century ones. The three works by the Japanese composer Ko Matsushita come across with particular conviction, the propulsive energy of Pater Noster sitting happily alongside the rich warmth of Ubi caritas.
If you are a fan of the soothing, featureless landscapes of Eric Whitacre’s choral writing (I’m not) you’ll hear this performance of his Alleluja and wish there was more, while those who, like me, admire the beautifully idiomatic voice of the Lithuanian Vytautas Miškinis will adore this deeply moving account of Angelis suis Deus. My personal favourite on a disc full of exquisite delights is the beautifully poised and sumptuously shaped account of the Agnus Dei from Orlando di Lassus’s Missa super Osculetur me.
This is a most impressive choir which not only delivers pristine performances in terms of accuracy and precision of pitch and blend, but also sings with immense musicality. Wolitz interprets the music with a real sense of affinity, irrespective of style, and clearly communicates his passion for this music to his singers who respond with some sectional performances. Marc Rochester