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Biber: Vesperae Longiores Ac Breviores / Yale Collegium Players

Biber / Legrenzi / Leopold / Carrington / Fraser
Release Date: 05/31/2011 
Label:  Carus   Catalog #: 83348   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ruprecht Ignaz MayrHeinrich Ignaz BiberLeopold IGiovanni Legrenzi,   ... 
Performer:  Mellissa HughesStephen FraserIan HowellDouglas Williams,   ... 
Conductor:  Simon Carrington
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Yale Collegium Players
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

There is no doubt that the works merit addition to one’s Baroque collection.

3462592.az_BIBER_Vesperae_MAYR_Domine.html

BIBER Vesperae longiores ac breviores. MAYR Domine ad adjuvandum. Sancta Maria. LEOPOLD I Ave Maris Stella. LEGRENZI Salve Regina Simon Carrington, cond; Mellissa Hughes (sop); Ian Howell Read more (ct); Derek Chester (ten); Douglas Williams (bs); Yale Schola Cantorum; Yale Collegium Players (period instruments) CARUS 83.348 (59: 30 Text and Translation)


None of the four composers represented in this recording are strangers to the discography of late German Baroque music. Indeed, one can find excellent exemplars of the works of each on labels such as cpo, Arte Nova, and Hänssler, recorded by ensembles ranging from Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s early attempt at historical practice on the old Vanguard label (and rereleased in 2004) to a wonderfully precise and accurate portrayal by L’Arpa Festante a couple of years ago of Biber’s sacred motets. In recording the Vesper service with ancillary material, the Yale early-music ensembles have gone back to manuscript sources for a series of unusual pieces that are sure to complement the current repertory of this period.


The centerpieces are the two works by Biber, a published set of Vespers from 1693 and the final Magnificat drawn from elsewhere (since Biber didn’t publish one with the set). In order to complete the entire service, the conductor, Simon Carrington, has incorporated an opening responsory and a Marian antiphon by Biber’s colleague Rupert Mayr (1646–1712), along with a hymn Ave Maris Stella by Emperor Leopold I, and a final antiphon by Giovanni Legrenzi (c.1620–90). Thus the recording runs the gamut from the middle of the 17th century to the first years of the 18th, in effect creating an anomalous program. Given the tone of each work, this combination works extremely well. The lyrical portions of the two Mayr pieces show little of the Italianate style, while Biber’s movements are filled with good counterpoint and lots of idiomatic accompaniment, such as runs in the violins that zip along up the scale to introduce the ritornellos. The counterpoint is limited mostly to imitative passages, but in the case of the royal composer, the staggered imitation of fifths lends the choral opening a nice and very striking music. The “Laudate Dominum” in the Biber is, in my opinion, a good example of the sort of Baroque contrast, from the fugal opening that suddenly devolves into a quiet, almost mysterious homophonic center, only to break out in a doxology set to decisive dance rhythms. Even the simpler and somber Legrenzi, the oldest work in the set with its a cappella chorus set above a basso continuo, seems to fit well.


From a performance standpoint, the disc contains excellent orchestral playing, always present but subtly understated and never obscuring the vocal lines. Mellissa Hughes can be a bit piercing in her higher register at times, but she blends well. Her rendition of the Mayr antiphon is nicely phrased and quite moving. Ian Howell’s countertenor is at times a bit light, but upon several listenings, this may be an effect of the recording venue since it has a nice rounded tone at others. Robert Mealy’s violin playing, particularly in the fiendish runs (which I can recall years ago Jaap Schroeder telling students to “just rip them off,” which Mealy does extremely adroitly), is both accurate and well done. Indeed, after the two interpolated instrumental sonatas, one wishes he would record more Biber. Carrington’s tempos are never too solemn or stately, but rather paced according to the words. All in all, it is a nice performance of works that deserve to be known. My only quibble is with the venues, two churches that carry more than their fair share of extra reverberation and whose acoustics tend to have a variable effect upon the performers. When one adds the almost constant, barely audible background shuffle of the audience that results from a live performance (or so it seems), then the entire recording is not as crystalline as it might have been. Still, there is no doubt that the works merit addition to one’s Baroque collection. A new recording will have to be done, but I suspect that one might wait awhile.


FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
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Works on This Recording

1. Domine ad adjuvandum me festina, for 4 voices & continuo by Ruprecht Ignaz Mayr
Performer:  Mellissa Hughes (), Stephen Fraser (Organ), Ian Howell (),
Douglas Williams (Bass Baritone), Derek Chester ()
Conductor:  Simon Carrington
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Yale Collegium Players
Period: Baroque 
Length: 1 Minutes 12 Secs. 
2. Fidicinium sacroprofanum: Sonata no 8 by Heinrich Ignaz Biber
Performer:  Stephen Fraser (Organ)
Conductor:  Simon Carrington
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Yale Collegium Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1683; Salzburg, Austria 
Length: 3 Minutes 59 Secs. 
3. Vesperae longiores ac breviores by Heinrich Ignaz Biber
Performer:  Douglas Williams (Bass Baritone), Mellissa Hughes (), Ian Howell (),
Stephen Fraser (Organ), Derek Chester ()
Conductor:  Simon Carrington
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Yale Collegium Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1693; Salzburg, Austria 
4. Mystery Sonatas (15) for Violin and Basso Continuo: no 1 in D minor, Annunciation by Heinrich Ignaz Biber
Performer:  Robert Mealy (Violin), Stephen Fraser (Organ)
Conductor:  Simon Carrington
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Yale Collegium Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1676; Salzburg, Austria 
Length: 6 Minutes 20 Secs. 
5. Ave maris stella by Leopold I
Performer:  Douglas Williams (Bass Baritone), Stephen Fraser (Organ), Derek Chester (),
Mellissa Hughes (), Ian Howell ()
Conductor:  Simon Carrington
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Yale Collegium Players
Period: Baroque 
Length: 7 Minutes 9 Secs. 
6. Sancta Maria, mater Dei, motet by Ruprecht Ignaz Mayr
Performer:  Stephen Fraser (Organ), Mellissa Hughes ()
Conductor:  Simon Carrington
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Yale Collegium Players
Length: 7 Minutes 39 Secs. 
7. Salve Regina, antiphon for 5 voices & continuo by Giovanni Legrenzi
Performer:  Stephen Fraser (Organ)
Conductor:  Simon Carrington
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Yale Collegium Players
Period: Baroque 
Length: 5 Minutes 58 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Domine ad adjuvandum me festina
Vesperae longiores ac breviores una cum litaniis Lauretanis: Dixit Dominus
Vesperae longiores ac breviores una cum litaniis Lauretanis: Confitebor tibi Domine
Sonatae tam aris quam aulis servientes: Sonata No. 8 in G major
Vesperae longiores ac breviores una cum litaniis Lauretanis: Beatus vir
Vesperae longiores ac breviores una cum litaniis Lauretanis: Laudate pueri Dominum
Vesperae longiores ac breviores una cum litaniis Lauretanis: Laudate Dominum
Mystery (Rosary) Sonata No. 1, "The Annunciation"
Ave maris stella
Sacri concentus psalmorum, antiphonarum, Op. 3: Sancta maria, mater Dei
Vesperae longiores ac breviores una cum litaniis Lauretanis: Magnificat
Salve Regina

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