Mogens Pedersøn was a pupil of Melchior Borchgrevinck, later royal kapellmeister, and in 1619 he became royal vice kapellmeister. His major work, Pratum Spirituale ("Spiritual Pasture"), was published in Copenhagen in 1620, containing 21 five-part hymns and a mass, three motets, and a number of responsories. The works directly reflect the church-musical requirements of the time, which made available in print some kind of offerings for ultimately all situations of Lutheran culture. In addition to the hymns that were part of the core liturgical program for the three feasts (Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost), there are Danish hymns, ten psalm hymns, and nine "free" hymns, partly from the distinctly Danish hymn tradition, partly from Luther's closest repertoire. The stylistic world that Pedersøn reveals in "Pratum Spirituale" is unquestionably only a very narrow segment of what this internationally experienced musician mastered: schooled between organ playing, Italian madrigal, Venetian double choir and English "consort music".
Andrea Gabrieli (c. 1510-1586) was one of the first native Venetians to hold the positions of Second and then First Organist in the basilica of San Marco. These were the highest musical appointments in the city, and their holders was expected to compose much of the music they played. In the event, like his predecessor Merulo and his successor (his nephew Giovanni Gabrieli), Andrea was adept at all musical forms, especially the new and up-to-date (very secular) madrigal, a sort of vocal chamber music. A splendid selection of these, interspersed with instrumental canzoni (in which one can see the influence he had on his more-famous nephew) that offer welcome contrast to the vocal music. Manfred Cordes leads Weser-Renaissance Bremen in pungent period-instrument performances.
Lovers of high-Renaissance polyphony will find much to enjoy with this new CPO release of works by the German composer Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612). Like his contemporary and friend Giovanni Gabrieli, Hassler’s advanced use of polychoral techniques (which would acheive ultimate fruition in the settings of Heinrich Schütz) earned him great fame and recognition in his day. While it’s unlikely that Hassler ever heard his music performed in a program like this, one that intersperses various combinations of solo, instrumental, and choral works, the performances nevertheless provide a fascinating musical glimpse into the work of this rarely recorded master.
Camilla de Rossi, Romana was one of four women who composed oratorios in Vienna in the early 1700s. She likely had musical training on stringed instruments, as evidenced by the exploration of unique instrumental colors in her compositions. All of her oratorios were written for solo voices and orchestra, alternating throughout between recitatives and arias. Four of de Rossi’s oratorios, written for Holy Week and other church celebrations at the Imperial Chapel in Vienna under Emperor Joseph I, and one cantata, have survived. Her first oratorio, Santa Beatrice d'Este (1707), was commissioned by the Emperor and later performed in Perugia in 1712. Il Sacrifizio de Abramo was written for Holy Week in 1708 and employed a single reed woodwind, the chalumeau, for interesting effect.
Here we have the type of disc that fills in the cracks, a discovery of several unrecorded byways of Schutz’s miscellaneous secular oeuvre. Of course, the seventeenth century being what it is, secular and sacred are deliberately dovetailed into a cultural pea soup: these works – so different from the thoroughly Mediterranean Op. 1 Madrigals – are embedded in the literary morality of the age (how typical and reverently set is the text of Haus und Guter: “house and goods are inherited from one’s parents, but a pious and virtuous wife is from the Lord. He who finds a wife, he finds something good and receives blessings from the Lord”) and are not entirely profane.
The richest transmission of printed wedding compositions comes from the prosperous Hanseatic cities. From this rich trove we have recorded for the first time a marvelous selection of interpretations by Manfred Cordes and his WESER RENAISSANCE ensemble: motets, sacred concertos, and ensemble songs, true to the motto: 'The wedded state originated in an ancient land; it was instituted in Paradise by Gods command'.
Leopold I assigned music a central place in the cultural life of his times. He encouraged the production of music at his Vienna court and composed over 150 arias in Italian, some German-language oratorios and musical comedies, and many sacred works. His oratorio Il Sagrificio d’Abramo occupies a special place among Viennese Passion compositions because the figure of Isaac is described as a prefiguration of Christ. Since the librettist, Conte Caldana, places the sacrifice scene in the foreground in the first part of his text, an entirely new level of meaning is created. As a result, Ubidienza (Obedience) and Humanità (Humanity) become Abraham’s partners in dialogue from the very beginning.
Johann Philipp Förtsch is one of the most remarkable German composers of the 17th century. About halfway through his life his career as a professional musician came to an end and he started to devote his life to the medical profession. Also notable is that his sacred compositions are more dramatic in character than was common in his time.
Förtsch was born in Wertheim am Main where his father was mayor. He studied medicine, law and philosophy in Jena and then in Erfurt. He did not plan to become a professional musician but must have enjoyed a good musical education.
The term “Hanseatic” in this program titled Festive Hanseatic Music originates from the word Hansa, which simply means a company of merchants trading overseas. The selections here were mostly composed during the waning years of the so-called Hanseatic league–an alliance of primarily prosperous northern European cities that began in the 13th century and ended in the 17th. While commerce for the Hanseatic league may have been on the decline during this period, the quality of the works offered on this new CPO CD clearly gives the impression that its musical life was thriving.
Cipriano de Rore, a native of Ronse, embodies with his music the multifacetedness and cosmopolitan influence of the Franco-Flemish epoch. His significance in music history can hardly be overestimated, and his extraordinary position between the prima practica and seconda practica makes him simultaneously a guardian of the tradition and a trailblazer of the “new music.” The Mass “Vivat felix Hercules secundus” from the genre of Masses for secular princes was probably composed by de Rore shortly after his arrival in Ferrara and is to be understood as a tribute to his employer, Ercole II d’Este, whose name de Rore honored in a remarkable manner. In each part of the Mass the tenor voice sings the text “Vivat felix Hercules secundus, dux Ferrariae quartus” (Long live the happy Ercole II, the fourth Duke of Ferrara).