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Praetorius: Sacred Music For Double Chorus / Ho, Wood


Release Date: 05/06/2008 
Label:  Arsis   Catalog #: 165   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Hieronymus Praetorius
Conductor:  Ross WoodEdith Ho
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Church of the Advent Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



H. PRAETORIUS Angelus ad pastores ait. Missa super Angelus ad pastores ait. Laudate Dominum. 1 Ecce Dominus veniet. Ein Kindlein so löbelich. Ecce quam bonum. 1 Te Deum Patrem ingenitum. Nunc dimittis. 1 Cantate Domino Edith Ho, cond; Ross Wood, cond; 1 Church of the Advent Ch ARSIS 165 (72:09) Read more


Frederick K. Gable’s notes answer many of the questions a non-specialist might ask about Hieronymus Praetorius (1560–1629), about musical life in Hamburg, and about the music on the program—including a discussion of the parody Mass and how much of the underlying technique today’s listeners might be able to appreciate after a single hearing. Because of these notes and because of the splendor of Praetorius’s polychoral style (not, according to Gable, so heavily influenced, at least directly, by the Italian tradition), and, surely not least, because of the lush orchestral sonorities of the Choir of the Church of the Advent in these works—several of which have never been recorded before—the collection could provide an introduction to more than one of the era’s musical traditions and techniques. In fact, the bottom line can come here: strongly recommended.


But there’s more to say. First of all, Hieronymus Praetorius belonged to a musical family of the same name as the younger Thuringian Michael ( Terpsichore, Syntagma musica ) in Hamburg, a city slow to adopt Lutheran reforms and one that maintained a strong Latin liturgical tradition. Then there’s the music itself: the program opens with Praetorius’s two-part motet, Angelus ad pastores ait , for double chorus, the surging opening lines of which reappear in variants throughout the Mass itself. As Gable points out, there’s plenty of repetition, which he defends by reference to the liturgical setting for which the music had been intended. (One of my 16th-century counterpoint teachers maintained that even this later polyphony simply can’t be appreciated outside its liturgical world.) Unlike the vapid imitations we created in class of Palestrina’s seamlessly flowing double choral music, the music of the Venetians and this by Praetorius make frequent enough use of antiphonal exchanges of short phrases, even in the Mass’s most somber moments, to keep the listener giddy. The Choir has adapted the intonation for the Gloria from the ensuing phrase, a practice not followed in the Credo (conducted by Ross Wood). Gable notes that the Sanctus turns the motet’s opening lines upside down, creating interrelationships, at least at the opening of the movements, which musicians may detect at once but that should provide a subliminal sense of unity for lay listeners as well. The variant in the Benedictus shows just how effectively Praetorius could cast musical shadows.


The motets, like Laudate Dominum , make even freer use of short repeated phrases, but Ecce Dominus veniet returns to the semi-flowing, predominantly stepwise style of the Mass. As Gable notes, Ein Kindlein so löbelich represents an atypical (for Praetorius) imitative setting of a German Chorale (with a sweet digression on Joseph lieber, Joseph mein ). The quasi-mystical opening of Nunc dimittis contrasts strongly with the interjectory style that reemerges later in the motet.


The Choir of the Church of the Advent sounds richly resonant, impressively balanced and integrated, and technically secure, except for a few passages in the middle of Laudate Dominum and—although it’s difficult to tell without the score—in the passages that open the exuberant Cantate Domino . Further, I didn’t notice in these performances the chiff that I found disruptive in its program of Clemens non Papa (Arsis 160, 30:5). Arsis’s engineers captured the Choir in the warmly reverberant setting in which it regularly performs.


In all, the variety of textures, homophonic and polyphonic, the interplay of the two choruses, and the repetitions and motivic play give listeners something more onto which to hold than do simple long-breathed lines and kaleidoscopic densities, such as they might encounter in earlier works by, say, Ockeghem. And these sympathetic performances breathe the vigor of youthful life into the music. To repeat, strongly recommended.


FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

1.
Missa 'Angelus ad pastores' by Hieronymus Praetorius
Conductor:  Ross Wood,  Edith Ho
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Church of the Advent Choir
Period: Renaissance 
2.
Ecce Dominus veniet by Hieronymus Praetorius
Conductor:  Ross Wood,  Edith Ho
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Church of the Advent Choir
Period: Baroque 
3.
Ein kindelein so löbelich by Hieronymus Praetorius
Conductor:  Ross Wood,  Edith Ho
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Church of the Advent Choir
Period: Renaissance 
4.
Ecce quam bonum by Hieronymus Praetorius
Conductor:  Ross Wood,  Edith Ho
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Church of the Advent Choir
Period: Renaissance 
5.
Te Deum Patrem ingenitum by Hieronymus Praetorius
Conductor:  Ross Wood,  Edith Ho
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Church of the Advent Choir
Period: Renaissance 
6.
Nunc dimittis by Hieronymus Praetorius
Conductor:  Ross Wood,  Edith Ho
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Church of the Advent Choir
Period: Baroque 
7.
Magnificat "Canticum Beatae Mariae Virginis": Cantate Domino by Hieronymus Praetorius
Conductor:  Ross Wood,  Edith Ho
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Church of the Advent Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1602; Hamburg, Germany 

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