» » Lewon - Argentum et Aurum - Musical Treasures from the Early Habsburg Renaissance (2015)



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28-05-2015, 12:15

Lewon - Argentum et Aurum - Musical Treasures from the Early Habsburg Renaissance (2015)

Category: Music

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Lewon - Argentum et Aurum - Musical Treasures from the Early Habsburg Renaissance (2015)
EAC Rip | Flac (Tracks + cue + log) | 393 MB | MP3 320Kbps CBR | 190 MB | 1 CD | Full Scans
Genre: Classical | Label: Naxos | Catalog Number: 573346

The period of the early Habsburgs, from c.1340 to c.1520, saw the development of a richly diverse musical culture in the Austrian region. This pioneering selection, the product of an extensive research project conducted at the University of Vienna, presents an overview of music in everyday life, in many cases in première recordings performed by Ensemble Leones.
The music is sacred and secular, allowing the listener to eavesdrop on Tyrolean palaces, dance halls and bourgeois homes, and on the singer-poets who travelled the country where old local styles fused with the latest international fashions.

This recording is the product of much specialist work at the University of Vienna, conducted as part of a research project called ‘Musical life of the Late Middle Ages in the Austrian Region'. It documents music of the early Habsburg period from around 1340 to c.1520. There are a number of world première recordings of recently discovered music as well as hitherto unknown pieces in this disc. Ensemble Leones have attempted in their performances to recreate the musical ethos of the time and are highly regarded specialists in this repertoire with several recordings to their name - composer Arvo Pärt has praised their performances!

Composer: Neidhart von Reuenthal, Hugo von Montfort, Monk of Salzburg, Oswald von Wolkenstein, ...
Performer: Miriam Andersen, Tobie Miller
Conductor: Marc Lewon
Orchestra/Ensemble: Ensemble Leones

Reviews: Ensemble Leones is a group of Swiss, German and Austrian musicians formed in 2008 under the leadership of Marc Lewon. In this album they offer an anthology focused on the musical milieu that one might have encountered at a Habsburg residence from roughly the mid-14th to the early-16th century. The selections are generally performed by a single voice accompanied by period instruments. More precisely, as Lewon explains: "for the monophonic songs and the polyphonic compositions that reflect 14th-century practice, we chose the lute, hurdy-gurdy and vielle - typical accompanying instruments tuned according to the Pythagorean system. The later song settings we performed with a homogenous ensemble of viole d'arco tuned according to the meantone system." Indeed, hearing these archaic tuning systems, and the "dissonant"-sounding intervals that they often produce, is part of what makes early music so fascinating when it's performed by good musicians.

Let's survey the first few tracks, starting right off with the title piece: a three-voice motet by Isaac. Argentum et Aurum means "silver and gold" and the full title reveals the religious connection ("silver and gold have I none, but such as I have I thee give"). Incredibly for a composer of Isaac's stature, this is apparently first recording of this motet. Stylistically it could pass for a secular chanson if it had a French text.

Displaying an elaborate polyphonic texture, the Isaac motet is typical of middle Renaissance counterpoint, though it's actually atypical for this album, which focuses more on monophonic works. The second track is an example thereof: a minnesänger song by Neidhart. Consistent with modern performance practice, Ensemble Leones adds plucked and bowed string accompaniments to the voice line, and inserts its own instrumental licks between each verse. The third track is another German monophony specimen: Hugo von Montfort's "Ich fragt ain wachter". The melody is in bar form (AAB), its "A" phrases beginning with a stock phrase common in Fifth Mode (Phrygian) plainchant (E F E D E B C' B). Fans of modern recordings of Hildegard von Bingem sequences will enjoy this interpretation: string drones in fifths elaborated into an inconspicuous heterophonic accompaniment to the voice part, which is sung by a female alto. There are three strophes, and the whole presentation is bracketed by a cow horn solo, the latter instrument making its only appearance of the album. Playing even a simple diatonic tune on this conical beast is no mean feat - try it on a Jewish shofar or a Tibetian conch if you don't believe me. Ironically the next track, #4, is a German song whose title is "The cow horn" but which is performed without instruments. Instead a male and a female voice sing heterophonically, which is something of a rarity with two solo voices (far more common, both in Western and non-Western music, is heterophony between a voice and an instrument).

Up next is an Oswald von Wolkenstein song presented in a three-part texture with a female voice and two instruments. Its title translates as "Let's have a merry kerfuffle", and the text suggests that the kerfuffle takes place in a house of prostitution. The song comes from a manuscript dated 1432, but since German music culture had not yet caught up to English, French, Italian and Dutch music culture, Oswald's piece sounds closer to the French chansons of the mid-to-late 1300s than to the highly consonant works by his Franco-Flemish contemporaries (of which track 19 by Dufay is an example). Speaking of France and French imports, track 6 is the anonymous three-part virelai "Soyt tart temper" ("Whether early or late"), a popular tune among late Medieval music ensembles. It's presented instrumentally with two vielles and a lute. Track 7 is another French import, "Or sus vous dormes trop", a frequently recorded virelai that aptly represents the late 14th century birdcall song genre. A female voice is accompanied by two vielles. Track 8 goes back to Oswald for the monophonic tune Durch Barbarei, played on a hurdy-gurdy (or "Symphonie" as it's identified in the credits). Listeners who enjoy Ensemble Leones' treatment of Oswald songs should check out their 2014 album Oswald von Wolkenstein: The Cosmopolitan.

By now you should have a good idea of the album's content, but here are some highlights from the remaining tracks: Neidhart's "Do man den gumpel gampel sank" is a strophic song with a catchy tune. The title translates as "When it was the season to sing the hip-swing dance" and it's enriched by an arpeggiated accompaniment contributed by the lute with some countermelodies added by a vielle. The text is a strange rambling epic of 14 verses that starts by describing the narrator's battlefield injury sustained under the command of a reckless crusader, then proceeds into the more expected imagery of springtime dances with pretty girls. It then recounts a conversation between a sexually willing young girl and her scolding mother who fails to dissuade her from shacking up with a particular knight. The last verse sings the praises of an elderly female singer that the narrator would like to dance with.

Track 11 is an instrumental setting of another Oswald song, and the only track on the album that features a flute. Track 14 is a curious two-voice work by one Hermann Edlerawer, a name previously unknown to me. He died in 1460 and appears to have been a clerk for the Catholic Church in Mainz for a while, then a cathedral cantor in Vienna. The phrases of this work usually begin with initial imitation, then go off in free counterpoint, often ending with a "third below" cadence (AKA "Landini cadence"). Though Reinhard Strohm's program notes describe the piece as a rondeau "imitating the elegant chansons of Binchois and Dufay" it does not follow the traditional ABaAabAB rondeau form, and it also sounds more like the experimental Ars Subtilior (mannerist) works from late 14th century France and Cyprus than the works of the two aforementioned Burgundians.

Track 25 is an instrumental "pavane", played here on four bowed strings. It's anonymous, sourced from the Augsburger Liederbuch from 1505-14 and thus predates the more famous lute pavans of Dowland by about a century. Indeed this must be one of the earliest surviving examples of this dance form (the very earliest has for some time been considered to be a Dalza lute intabulation published in 1508). Dowland's pavans are in AABBCC form (where B is an open cadence), and this one is almost identical, lacking only the repetition of the B section.

The last track is a setting of the Maria Zart ("Gentle Mary") hymn tune used by both Obrecht (in his monumental Missa Maria zart) and by Schlick in his organ setting (famous from its inclusion in Apel's Historical Anthology of Music). This particular setting is attributed to one Pfabinschwantz, another name previously unknown to me, and it's another of the album's ten première recordings.

Argentum et Aurum is the result of quality musicianship coupled with a scholarly effort out of the University of Vienna that has shed light both on previously-unknown German-languages pieces from this time period, and on new manuscript sources (occasionally with added voices) for already known pieces. The booklet included with the CD doesn't provide texts, but they can be downloaded from Naxos' Web site as a PDF. Although the liner notes are introductory in nature and don't go into detail about every piece, they do clearly identify the manuscript sources for each track. And some of the scholars and musicians associated with this project have published supplementary texts on the Web that should appeal to the more academically-oriented listeners. But it's not just academics that will enjoy this album. It appeals to anyone enthusiastic about early music, particularly the minnesinger/meistersinger repertory. Buy it and enjoy!

Tracklisting:

1. Heinrich Isaac (1450/55-1517): Argentum et aurum* [03:11];
2. Neidhart: Vyol - Urlaub hab der wintter [06:37];
3. Hugo von Montfort (1357-1423): Ich fragt ain wachter [06:13];
4. The Monk of Salzburg (late 14th c.): Das kchúhorn - Untarnslaf [01:37];
5. Oswald von Wolkenstein (c.1377-1445): Skak - Frölich geschrai so well wir machen [01:15];
6. Anon. (late 14th c.): Soyt tart tempre [01:31];
7. Anon. (late 14th c.): Or sus vous dormes trop [05:57];
8. Oswald von Wolkenstein: Durch Barbarei, Arabia [02:31];
9. Neidhart: Der sunnen glanst* [04:44];
10. Neidhart: Do man den gumpel gampel sank [08:18];
11. Oswald von Wolkenstein: Freu dich, du weltlich creatúr [02:16];
12. Oswald von Wolkenstein: Zergangen ist meins herzen we [05:03];
13. Anon. (c.1400): Gegrusset seistu maria* [05:36];
14. Hermann Edlerawer* [02:58];
15. Anon. (15th c.): Von osterreich - Sig, säld und heil* [00:57];
16. Anon. (late 15th c.): So stee ich hie auff diser erd [01:04];
17. Anon. (mid-15th c.): Alle dei filius* [02:12];
18. Anon. (early 15th c.): My ladi, my ladi, myn happ* [01:32];
19. Guillaume Du Fay (1397-1474): Seigneur Leon [01:20];
20. Anon. (late 15th c.): Gespile, liebe gespile gút [00:50];
21. Anon. (late 15th c.): Es sassen höld in ainer stuben* [00:51];
22. Anon. (late 15th c.): Ich sachs ains mals* [01:08];
23. Oswald von Wolkenstein? and Nicolaus Krombsdorfer? (d. 1479): Heýa, heýa nun wie si grollen* [00:59];
24. Johannes Martini (c.1430/40-1497): La Martinella [02:07];
25. Anon. (early 16th c.): Pavane [01:30];
26. Anon. (early 16th c.): Mantúaner dantz [01:23];
27. Paul Hofhaimer (1459-1537): Gottes namen faren wir [01:47];
28. Pfabinschwantz (fl. c.1500): Maria zart, von edler art* [03:11].

* - world premiere recordings.

Exact Audio Copy V1.0 beta 3 from 29. August 2011

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Ensemble Leones / Argentum et Aurum - Musical Treasures from Early Habsburg

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