Notes and Editorial Reviews
St. Kunigunde was the wife of St. Henry II, who was elected German king in 1002 after the extinction of the Ottonian line and crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1014. The couple founded the diocese of Bamberg and built the cathedral, where their sarcophagi still lie in the middle of the nave. Henry died in 1024 and was canonized in 1146, while Kunigunde, who retired to a convent as a widow, was canonized in 1200. Both were regarded as models of Christian rulers, bringing peace and justice to their realm and performing works of piety and charity. Werner Pees, who directs the seven men who make up this chant schola, is director of music at the Bamberg cathedral. Their first recording (not yet received for review) focused on the coronation rite of
Henry II. Now we hear the historia, or Office, for his queen (KU51 in Andrew Hughes’s inventory of medieval offices), including Vespers and the first two nocturnes of Matins in unusually comprehensive form. Antiphons frame the psalms and lessons precede the responsories, even if the psalms and probably the lessons are truncated. An historia of Henry is also scheduled to be recorded.
Almost unheard of before 1977, when Erato recorded a rhymed Office of St. Juvenalis, records of late medieval liturgical Offices have multiplied in recent years. Some of them seem to have attracted interpretations on the periphery of chant performance. Not this disc, which places the chant squarely in the medieval tradition expounded by Dom Cardine and applied to earlier chants by the most respected interpreters. What makes this disc so fine is its lack of striving for effect, for anything divorced from common practice. This schola might do well to search for more chant sources that are waiting to be brought to life on disc. Listen to this one, clear evidence that young singers today can render the old chants as well as their elders. Maybe better.
J. F. Weber, FANFARE
Works on This Recording
Historia for Kunigunde, chant by Anonymous
Venue: Cavalli Records Studio, Bamberg, Germany
Length: 0 Minutes 57 Secs.
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