Notes and Editorial Reviews
René Clemencic, dir; Clemencic Consort
OEHMS OC 417 (70:06
Text and Translation)
René Clemencic’s newest effort is the only record I can recall that bears the name of this important early-Renaissance manuscript, though selections have been included in mixed collections for many years. The source dating from 1478–80 has been known to scholars only since its discovery in the Berlin royal library in 1874, but the name that has stuck for most of that time is misleading. It once
belonged to the cathedral in Glogau (Silesia, now in Poland), so that much is valid. It is not a book of songs, though, for more than half of the content is Latin sacred music and most of the other pieces are untexted songs (identified by title or incipit), and it is not a book but rather a collection of three partbooks. (With good reason, Leeman Peerkins has referred to it as the
) It disappeared from Berlin (or wherever it had been squirreled away for safekeeping) in 1945, turned up later in Poland, and found a home in the Jagiello library in Krakow, but unlike other wartime booty has not been returned to Germany. An edition appeared in stages, the German songs and instrumental music in 1936, a selection of Latin works in 1937, and the remainder (edited from a poor-quality microfilm) in 1981, about the time that the source became accessible to scholars. A facsimile was published in 1986. The collection consists of 292 works, of which 162 have Latin texts, some liturgical but many devotional. Scholars have identified composers for only about 30 pieces. Almost all the pieces are for three voices.
Clemencic has included on this disc 12 Latin works, seven German songs, and 10 instrumental pieces. No fewer than six of these German-titled pieces were included in a miscellaneous collection by a Berlin ensemble on an LP, Thorofon MTH 105, four of which are also scattered on three different current CDs. Of the sacred pieces, only
Dies est laetitiae, Fulgent nunc natalitia,
Veni Sancte Spiritus
are currently available in an old Konrad Ruhland collection reissued on CHE 23-2. There may be others, since anonymous repertoire of this period is hard to track down on records. Clemencic unfolds his program in the usual manner of alternating Latin, instrumental, and German selections, using three singers and four players. Oddly, the notes and texts are limited to German and Polish, doubtless a nod to the present location of the source.
The performances are agreeable, straightforward, decorated with instrumental flourishes according to Clemencic’s notion of how music of the period was performed. He has overdone this in the past where it was hardly appropriate (Dufay Masses, for an example), but here we have an alternative to Ruhland’s
versions of three sacred pieces. If Clemencic’s handbells in the first two pieces are annoying, he makes up for it by giving other devotional pieces unaccompanied, such as
Adest fines mesticie
. Offhand, I cannot think of another conductor who has been recording continually for almost 50 years, as René Clemencic has. In the mid 1960s he directed Musica Antiqua of Vienna, but within a few years the present name was given to his ensemble, and he has never been far from a studio. If another full disc drawn from this source exists, I’d be gratified to hear of it. Specialists in late medieval vocal music will not pass this up.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Works on This Recording
Dies est laetitiae by Anonymous
Glogauer Liederbuch: Excerpt(s) by Anonymous
Written: circa 1477-1480; Germany
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