WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Joseph Martin Kraus: Miserere; Requiem; Stella Coeli

Kraus / La Stagione Frankfurt / Schneider
Release Date: 09/29/2009 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777409-2   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Joseph Martin Kraus
Performer:  Annemei Blessing-LeyhausenJulian PrégardienCarmen SchüllerEkkehard Abele
Conductor:  Michael Schneider
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Frankfurt (Frankfurt) La Stagione Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

KRAUS Miserere . Requiem. Stella coeli Michael Schneider, cond; Annemei Blessing-Leyhausen (sop); Carmen Schüller (alt); Paul Gerhard Adam (ct); Julian Prégardien (ten); Ekkehard Abele (bs); Deutsche Kammerchor; La Stagione Frankfurt (period instruments) cpo 777 409 (61:31 Text and Translation)

I feel a bit awkward actually reviewing a disc of the sacred music of Joseph Martin Kraus. After all, VB numbers Read more are generally used to denote his music, and I do have more than a modicum of acquaintance with each and every piece, having both catalogued the music and written extensively about it for the past 25 years. It is a bit like having Ben or Jerry analyze ice-cream flavors, but in this case I shall try and be as objective as possible and look at the pieces with fresh eyes and try not to proselytize about the composer.

Two of the three pieces date from the composer’s youth, and as such are subject to the level of maturity that one might subscribe to early works. The Miserere (VB 4), a multimovement work (for the superstitious, in 13 movements), was written in Erfurt in 1774 or 1775 (not 1773, as the notes have it), following a period of instruction with pupils of both Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Sebastian Bach. This was later acknowledged by the composer as the place where he first learned how to compose music. It is hardly surprising that the various portions of the Psalm text are set individually and perhaps without internal connection. What is remarkable about these movements is their variety and the extensive use of the chorus. The “Ne projicias,” for example, is a long movement that includes the accompaniment of only the organ and features three types of counterpoint—invention, fugue, and double fugue—while the brief “Ecce enim” is a rollicking homophonic statement that ends all too abruptly. The solo portions are also varied, from the gigue-like “Auditui meo” to the extensive coloratura in the bass aria “Docebo iniquos.” The textures are continually changing, a trademark of Kraus’s later works, with coloristic effects dominating. It is a surprisingly varied, if quite operatic work. On the other hand, the Requiem (VB 1) is far more austere, having been written for the Buchen Musik-Chor about a year later. Here, Kraus adds only horns, with the result that the textures are sparse. This is a local work, hardly to be compared with the more public Requiems of Mozart or Michael Haydn (or even Dittersdorf), even though the Kyrie has a melody that eerily foreshadows the first mentioned. It is 18th-century Gebrauchsmusik, not meant for larger distribution. However, one can find moments of extensive expressivity, such as the mournful Lachrymosa, here an alto aria, and the soft suspensions of the Benedictus. The bass solo in the Agnus Dei has an effective call and response with the chorus. The final work, the motet Stella coeli (VB 10), was written, according to Roman Hoffstetter, in the space of under two days, apparently in a stream of consciousness inspiration for the Benedictine monastery in Amorbach. Here the new organ was being dedicated, and it is not unexpected to find an extensive virtuoso solo for the instrument in the second movement.

The performances by La Stagione are crisp, with good, solid articulations in the strings especially. The Deutsche Kammerchor, a mere 16 strong, has excellent declamation and is right on pitch. If there is any criticism that can be leveled at the performance, it is Schneider’s tempos. There seems to be an unwritten law that there are to be only three: fast, faster, and bat-out-of-hell. While this does give a sense of excitement to, say, the Stella coeli , it sometimes interferes with a more sensitive phrasing, such as in the Sacrificium. The Requiem is the only piece that has been previously recorded (Hungaroton, Orfeo Orchestra with Vashegyi), and here I prefer their rendition, only because the tempo variations allow for a better sense of phrasing. This is not to say that Schneider’s is inferior at all, but this is only a matter of personal preference.

Highly recommended.

FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
Read less

Works on This Recording

Miserere in C minor, VB 4 by Joseph Martin Kraus
Performer:  Annemei Blessing-Leyhausen (), Julian Prégardien (), Carmen Schüller (Alto),
Ekkehard Abele ()
Conductor:  Michael Schneider
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Frankfurt (Frankfurt) La Stagione Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1773 
Venue:  Deutschlandfunk Kammermusiksaal 
Length: 2 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Requiem by Joseph Martin Kraus
Performer:  Annemei Blessing-Leyhausen (), Ekkehard Abele ()
Conductor:  Michael Schneider
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Frankfurt (Frankfurt) La Stagione Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1776 
Venue:  Deutschlandfunk Kammermusiksaal 
Length: 1 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Stella coeli in C major, VB 10 by Joseph Martin Kraus
Performer:  Julian Prégardien (), Annemei Blessing-Leyhausen ()
Conductor:  Michael Schneider
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Frankfurt (Frankfurt) La Stagione Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1783 
Venue:  Deutschlandfunk Kammermusiksaal 
Length: 4 Minutes 14 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook

Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In