Musica Sacra of the Wawel Cathedral
The Royal Rorantists/Stanislaw Galonski Andrzej Bialko (organ)
rec. June 2016, Pauline Fathers Basilica Na Skalce; Church of Our Lady of Fatima, Cracow, Poland DDD
No texts or translations DUX 1334 [59:32]
In recent times the Polish label Dux has released quite
a number of discs with music from Poland's musical heritage.
That is especially important as most of this repertoire is hardly known,
certainly in other parts of the world but maybe even in Poland itself.
Usually these recordings are well documented. Therefore the booklet
to the present disc is rather disappointing. There is some explanation
of the name of the ensemble, which has a historical background, but
there is no information whatsoever about the composers or the music.
The monarchy and the royal court played a key role in Polish music history.
In particular King Sigismund I ‘the Old’ (1467-1548) was
a great patron of the arts. He wanted to secure his place in the cultural
history of his country with a sepulchral chapel in Wawel Cathedral in
Cracow. He also founded the Collegium of Rorantists (Cappella Rorantistarum)
whose duty was to sing in his chapel every day a Rorate Caeli mass.
At the beginning, the Rorantists were a national ensemble which consisted
of priest-singers and composers who sang Polish music, but also pieces
by the leading composers of the time, such as Palestrina and Lassus.
In the course of time composers from elsewhere who settled in Poland
also joined the Rorantists. The ensemble which performs the programme
on this disc is called after this group; it is part of the Capella Cracoviensis
and has added 'Royal' to its name to emphasize the connection
of the Rorantists to the court.
The programme spans a period of about five hundred years. The earliest
piece dates from the 13th century, but is heard here in a 19th century
arrangement. As the booklet doesn't give any information about
the music we have to guess in what way the original piece was arranged.
The disc opens with an address by the late Pope John Paul II (in Polish
and in Italian) during a visit of the Capella Cracoviensis to Rome in
1981. This lasts more than 11 minutes and severely diminishes this disc's
value for those who don't understand either language. The booklet
doesn't include translations, neither of this address nor of
the vocal items.
The first musical item is Rorate caeli, the introit of the
fourth Sunday of Advent. This same text is then sung in a polyphonic
setting by Marcin Paligon. Nothing is known about him and this five-part
motet is his only extant composition. Krzystof Borek was a singer at
the royal court and was praepositus of the Cappella Rorantistarum
around 1558. Two masses from his pen have been preserved, but both incomplete:
the Missa Te Deum laudamus and an untitled mass, from which
we hear the Sanctus. Tomasz Szadek was also a singer in the
royal chapel in Cracow and also one of the Rorantists in the 1570s.
His two main extant works are masses which are preserved in the library
of Wawel Cathedral. The Officium in melodiam motetae Pisneme
is based on the chanson Puis ne me peult venir by the French
composer Thomas Crecquillon.
The exact date and place of Bartlomiej Pekiel’s birth are not
known. The German theorist Johann Mattheson claimed he was of German
origin, but this remains unproven. He entered the court of King Wladyslaw
IV in Warsaw sometime after 1633 and in 1641 he became vice-maestro
di capella under Marco Scacchi. When the latter left the court
in 1649 he took over his duties, although he was only officially appointed
maestro di capella in 1653. Two years later Warsaw was captured
by the Swedes and the court was dissolved. Pekiel moved to Cracow where
he became director of music of the Wawel cathedral chapel. His best-known
work is the Missa pulcherrima, to which name was added ad
Praenestini - a reference to Palestrina which indicates that it
is written in the stile antico of which Palestrina's
music was considered a model.
Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki studied law at Prague University and then
theology in Vienna. It was probably in 1690 that he moved to Cracow
where he was ordained in 1692. In 1696 he was appointed penitentiary
of Wawel Cathedral, and in 1698 he became director of music at the cathedral.
Gorczycki composed music in the concertante style of his time, but the
motet Sepulto Domino is written in the stile antico.
Even so, it is different from the other pieces in the programme in regard
to the connection between text and music.
The vocal items alternate with organ pieces by Jan z Lublina, outside
Poland better known as John of Lublin. However, he can't be considered
the composer of these pieces. They are taken from Tabulatura Ioannis
de Lyublin canonic: regularium de Crasnyc 1540 which has survived
in manuscript and is in fact a treatise on organ playing. It includes
a large number of pieces which are intabulations of vocal items by various
composers from all parts of Europe, among them Josquin, Janequin, Sandrin
and Senfl. The track-list doesn't mention the names of the original
composers. There is also no information about the organ Andrzej Bialko
I really hope that this ensemble will continue to explore the repertoire
which was sung by the Cappella Rorantistarum. I like the singing of
the eight singers (four tenors, two baritones and two basses) who produce
a clear and transparent sound. But I also hope that next projects will
be better documented. A booklet like this doesn't help to make
this repertoire better known and more appreciated. If we deduct the
address by Pope John Paul II we are left with a playing time of less
than 50 minutes. That is not a good argument for this disc.
[The Word of the Holy Father John Paul II] [11:33]
plainchant Rorate caeli [5:09] Marcin PALIGON (fl 16th/17th C) Rorate caeli [3:15] JAN Z LUBLINA (fl c1540) (ed) Kyrie Fons bonitatis [0:57] Christe [1:39] Ultimum Kyrie [1:23] Krzystof BOREK (?-after 1566) Missa Te Deum laudamus:
Kyrie & Gloria [5:31] JAN Z LUBLINA (ed) Patrem sollemne [1:23] Krzystof BOREK Missa Te Deum laudamus:
Credo [4:58] JAN Z LUBLINA (ed) Date siceram moerentibus [3:05] Krzystof BOREK Sanctus [2:16] JAN Z LUBLINA (ed) Tantum ergo sacramentum [2:47] Bartlomiej PEKIEL(?-1670) Missa Pulcherrima:
Benedictus [2:46] Tomasz SZADEK (1550?-1612) Officium in melodiam motetae Pisneme:
Agnus Dei [3:14] JAN Z LUBLINA (ed) Non mortui laudabunt te Domine [1:01] De profundis clamavi [1:30] Grzegorz Gerwazy GORCZYCKI (1665/67-1734) Sepulto Domino [2:35] JAN Z LUBLINA (ed) Salve Regina [1:04] WINCENTY Z KIELCZY (13th C), arr Teofil KLONOWSKI
(1805-1876) Gaude mater Polonia [3:23]
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