Notes and Editorial Reviews
POLYPHONIC VESPERS FOR ST. MICHAEL’S AND ST. MARTIN’S DAYS
Janka Szendrei, cond; László Dobszay, cond; Schola Hungarica
BUDAPEST MUSIC CENTER 128 (47: 06
Text and Translation)
This is not the first program of polyphony that Schola Hungarica has made in its long history. One of their first issues after six numbered “Magyar Gregorianum” discs was “Polyphonic Vespers for Christmas and Easter” (9:2) from the same manuscript as this, the Anna Hannsen Schuman Codex, which belonged to the collegiate
church of St. Martin in Bratislava, dating from its donation by the widow Schuman in 1571 until its removal to the city archives. Bratislava, known to Hungarians as Pozsony (and to Germans as Pressburg), was the principal city of free Hungary when most of the country was still occupied by the Turks. Like the earlier disc, we hear an approximation of Vespers for two feasts, though the psalms (only one for St. Michael, September 29, all five for St. Martin, November 11) are truncated. The Magnificat is sung complete only for the latter feast. A polyphonic antiphon of All Saints is added, although that feast would have to fall on the same day or the next day to call for the commemoration to be made. Between the two sets of Vespers are a set of four chant propers for the Mass of St. Martin, the patronal feast, all recorded on Motette’s disc of the complete Mass of St. Martin. Vespers of St. Martin is sung mostly in chant except for the hymn and the canticle; the antiphons were recorded once by the nuns of Argentan. The responsory
, however, seems to be a first recording.
The Schola continues to maintain superb discipline and responsiveness. Men, women, and children usually sing in alternation rather than together, always in effective contrast, but they make a superb polyphonic ensemble. Occasional solos are excellent; Benedek Héja, for one, was a soloist even when he sang as a boy. The playing time is unusually short for a Schola production, leaving open any reason for truncating the psalms. Even so, the polyphony is rare and rewarding, not to be missed.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
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