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Miserere / Requiem / Stella Coeli


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Audio CD, September 29, 2009
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1. Miserere, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, 2 oboes, bassoon, strings & continuo in C minor, Vb. 4: Miserere
2. Miserere, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, 2 oboes, bassoon, strings & continuo in C minor, Vb. 4: Amplius
3. Miserere, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, 2 oboes, bassoon, strings & continuo in C minor, Vb. 4: Tibi soli
4. Miserere, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, 2 oboes, bassoon, strings & continuo in C minor, Vb. 4: Ecce enim
5. Miserere, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, 2 oboes, bassoon, strings & continuo in C minor, Vb. 4: Auditui
6. Miserere, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, 2 oboes, bassoon, strings & continuo in C minor, Vb. 4: Averte
7. Miserere, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, 2 oboes, bassoon, strings & continuo in C minor, Vb. 4: Ne projicias
8. Miserere, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, 2 oboes, bassoon, strings & continuo in C minor, Vb. 4: Docebo
9. Miserere, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, 2 oboes, bassoon, strings & continuo in C minor, Vb. 4: Domine labia
10. Miserere, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, 2 oboes, bassoon, strings & continuo in C minor, Vb. 4: Sacrificium
11. Miserere, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, 2 oboes, bassoon, strings & continuo in C minor, Vb. 4: Tunc acceptabis
12. Miserere, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, 2 oboes, bassoon, strings & continuo in C minor, Vb. 4: Gloria patria
13. Miserere, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, 2 oboes, bassoon, strings & continuo in C minor, Vb. 4: Sicut erat
14. Requiem, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, strings & continuo in D minor, Vb. 1: Requiem
15. Requiem, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, strings & continuo in D minor, Vb. 1: Te decet hymnus
16. Requiem, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, strings & continuo in D minor, Vb. 1: Kyrie
17. Requiem, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, strings & continuo in D minor, Vb. 1: Dies irae
18. Requiem, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, strings & continuo in D minor, Vb. 1: Lacrymosa
19. Requiem, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, strings & continuo in D minor, Vb. 1: Huic ergo
20. Requiem, for 4 voices, chorus, 2 horns, strings & continuo in D minor, Vb. 1: Domina Jesus
See all 26 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Review

I feel a bit awkward actually reviewing a disc of the sacred music of Joseph Martin Kraus. After all, VB numbers are generally used to denote his music, and I do have more than a modicum of acquaintance with each and every piece, having both catalogued the music and written extensively about it for the past 25 years. It is a bit like having Ben or Jerry analyze ice-cream flavors, but in this case I shall try and be as objective as possible and look at the pieces with fresh eyes and try not to proselytize about the composer.

Two of the three pieces date from the composer's youth, and as such are subject to the level of maturity that one might subscribe to early works. The Miserere (VB 4), a multimovement work (for the superstitious, in 13 movements), was written in Erfurt in 1774 or 1775 (not 1773, as the notes have it), following a period of instruction with pupils of both Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Sebastian Bach. This was later acknowledged by the composer as the place where he first learned how to compose music. It is hardly surprising that the various portions of the Psalm text are set individually and perhaps without internal connection. What is remarkable about these movements is their variety and the extensive use of the chorus. The "Ne projicias," for example, is a long movement that includes the accompaniment of only the organ and features three types of counterpoint--invention, fugue, and double fugue--while the brief "Ecce enim" is a rollicking homophonic statement that ends all too abruptly. The solo portions are also varied, from the gigue-like "Auditui meo" to the extensive coloratura in the bass aria "Docebo iniquos." The textures are continually changing, a trademark of Kraus's later works, with coloristic effects dominating. It is a surprisingly varied, if quite operatic work. On the other hand, the Requiem (VB 1) is far more austere, having been written for the Buchen Musik-Chor about a year later. Here, Kraus adds only horns, with the result that the textures are sparse. This is a local work, hardly to be compared with the more public Requiems of Mozart or Michael Haydn (or even Dittersdorf), even though the Kyrie has a melody that eerily foreshadows the first mentioned. It is 18th-century Gebrauchsmusik, not meant for larger distribution. However, one can find moments of extensive expressivity, such as the mournful Lachrymosa, here an alto aria, and the soft suspensions of the Benedictus. The bass solo in the Agnus Dei has an effective call and response with the chorus. The final work, the motet Stella coeli (VB 10), was written, according to Roman Hoffstetter, in the space of under two days, apparently in a stream of consciousness inspiration for the Benedictine monastery in Amorbach. Here the new organ was being dedicated, and it is not unexpected to find an extensive virtuoso solo for the instrument in the second movement.

The performances by La Stagione are crisp, with good, solid articulations in the strings especially. The Deutsche Kammerchor, a mere 16 strong, has excellent declamation and is right on pitch. If there is any criticism that can be leveled at the performance, it is Schneider's tempos. There seems to be an unwritten law that there are to be only three: fast, faster, and bat-out-of-hell. While this does give a sense of excitement to, say, the Stella coeli, it sometimes interferes with a more sensitive phrasing, such as in the Sacrificium. The Requiem is the only piece that has been previously recorded (Hungaroton, Orfeo Orchestra with Vashegyi), and here I prefer their rendition, only because the tempo variations allow for a better sense of phrasing. This is not to say that Schneider's is inferior at all, but this is only a matter of personal preference.

Highly recommended. -- Fanfare, Bertil van Boer, Jan-Feb 2010

The small German label CPO has made a specialty out of unearthing buried treasures. Thanks to the gorgeous work of five soloists, period-instrument orchestra La Stagione Frankfurt and the Deutscher Kammerchor under conductor Michael Schneider, three sacred pieces by Joseph Martin Kraus glow with colour and life. A contemporary of Mozart's, Kraus (1756-1792) wrote in a similar style yet shows his own, slightly more Baroque-influenced style of invention. Kraus spent years composing for the Swedish court in Stockholm, but his ears and eyes were open to the latest musical developments in the rest of Europe. The nearly 30-minute Miserere is the finest of all, full of musical motifs that carry all the way through. Any of these pieces deserve your ears if you like Mozart and Haydn. Better yet, it would be great to hear them performed live in Toronto. -- Toronto Star, John Terauds, January 2010

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