Notes and Editorial Reviews
Manfred Cordes, dir; Weser-Renaisssance Bremen
CPO 999 953-2 (68:20
Text and Translation)
Michael Praetorius (1571–1621) is the most familiar of several composers by that name, all contemporary but not all related. Hieronymus and Jacob have also found their place in this magazine, but a disc of Johann’s organ music on CPO didn’t get a review. What passes for a biography of the composer is folded within a detailed account of educational changes after the
Reformation abolished the monastic and cathedral schools. Luther’s colleague Philipp Melanchthon was concerned with restructuring the school system, and his decisions were incorporated into the church constitution formulated by Johannes Bugenhagen, another close colleague. The 1569 expansion of this document for Braunschweig-Lüneburg is so detailed that the whole celebration of Easter Mass can be reconstructed using its description. Apart from showing that Praetorius received an excellent education, the narrative explains how the present program was put together. The dense note is fluently translated except for calling
Victimae paschali laudes
“one of the less enduring sequences” (the German says “one of the few remaining sequences,” just the opposite).
Cordes has chosen music to fit the requirements of the constitution from a variety of works by Praetorius. The Credo is sung, as prescribed, in chant, though the rendition is almost unrecognizable as Credo I, but the preface (before the Sanctus) is typical of the more elaborate tones found in old sources. The liturgical mix of Latin and German was common, and
were still being composed in Latin much later by Bach and others. Fittingly for a major feast of the church year, many of the works are set for eight, nine, or 10 voices, and the postludium is a motet for 12 voices from
. Cordes uses seven singers and 10 players for a fine evocation of Lutheran liturgy in northern Germany almost a century after the Reformation. This is a gratifying program in both conception and execution.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Works on This Recording
Ostermesse by Michael Praetorius
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