This recording presents music from the time of Rosenmüller's exile in Italy, and alternates large-ensemble chamber sonatas published in Venice in 1670 with the first recordings of unpublished bass cantatas—featuring the outstanding young baritone Jesse Blumberg—which ACRONYM has freshly transcribed from a manuscript collection.
|01||Domine cor meum in ardet impatiens|
Domine cor meum in ardet impatiens
|02||Sonate da Camera (1670): Sonata a5 #4 in G Minor|
Sonate da Camera (1670): Sonata a5 #4 in G Minor
|03||Aude quid times gens Christo dicata|
Aude quid times gens Christo dicata
|04||Sonate da Camera (1670): Sonata a5 #8 in E Minor|
Sonate da Camera (1670): Sonata a5 #8 in E Minor
|05||Salve mi Jesu, Pater misericordiae|
Salve mi Jesu, Pater misericordiae
|06||Sonate da Camera (1670): Sonata a5 #6 in A Minor|
Sonate da Camera (1670): Sonata a5 #6 in A Minor
|07||Ascendit invictissimus salvator|
Ascendit invictissimus salvator
Composer, trombonist, organist, and teacher Johann Rosenmüller was born and died in Germany but spent much of his life exiled in Italy. He began his education at the Lateinschule in Oelsnitz, the city of his birth, and he graduated from the University of Leipzig, where he studied music and theology and was later hired as a teacher. Rosenmüller was promoted at Leipzig’s Thomasschule by 1650, and he was appointed organist of the Nikolaikirche the following year. He published prolifically during this period, printing more compositions than any other composer in Leipzig. The city council assured Rosenmüller that he would be the next Thomaskantor—one of the most prominent posts in Germany, later held by J. S. Bach—but before the position became vacant, Rosenmüller’s career imploded due to his arrest with several schoolboys in 1655 after accusations of sodomy. Following his escape from prison, Rosenmüller eventually made his way to Venice, where in 1658 he found employment as a trombonist at San Marco. By 1660 he had achieved renown as a composer in Italy, teaching students such as Johann Philipp Krieger (whose Sonata a4 was featured on ACRONYM’s Wunderkammer recording). From 1678 to 1682, Rosenmüller held the position of composer at the Ospedale della Pietà, the orphanage and school that would employ Antonio Vivaldi several decades later.Read More
The vast majority of Rosenmüller’s vocal music is sacred and sets German or Latin texts. He likely composed most of the Latin-texted works while in Venice, since they generally reflect Italian and Catholic liturgical practices and musical styles. Nevertheless, they survive largely in German manuscripts, because Rosenmüller sent many of these compositions to contacts in Germany, likely in attempts to secure employment. He modeled many of these works on the secular cantatas of Italian composers such as Carissimi and Cesti, incorporating Italian operatic and instrumental compositional elements. Rosenmüller begins each cantata included on this recording with a brief sonata followed by aria sections alternating with recitative, occasionally interspersed with instrumental ritornelli. These cantatas are found in Berlin in a manuscript collection (D-B Mus.ms. 18883) of thirty-five solo cantatas—most of them unique, unpublished and unrecorded—copied by many hands and compiled in 1700. The four cantata texts consist of Latin devotional prose and poetry. Their provenance is unknown, but they reflect the religious context of Rosenmüller’s Venetian residence and Leipzig education; although they are influenced by Catholic mysticism prevalent in Italy, their emphasis on Christ reveals a fundamental interest in the Lutheran orthodoxy dominant in much of Germany.
To read the full program notes, please purchase this album.
Recorded at Oktaven Audio, Sept. 1-3, 2016
Engineered by Ryan Streber
Produced by Ryan Streber and ACRONYM
Edited by Kivie Cahn-Lipman and Ryan Streber
Design by Marc Wolf (marcjwolf.com)
Photo processing by Michiyo Suzuki
ACRONYM photo by Jennifer Toole
Jesse Blumberg photo by Arielle Doneson
Cover art by Paul Signac, Grand Canal (Venice), 1905
Translations and program notes by Martha H. Brundage
Baroque string ensemble ACRONYM is dedicated to giving modern premieres of the wild instrumental music of the seventeenth century. The group formed in 2012 to create the first recording of the "Alphabet Sonatas" of Johann Pezel. ACRONYM's following disc, sonatas by Antonio Bertali, was released in 2014 to critical acclaim; Alex Ross selected it as a CD pick, and Early Music America Magazine wrote "the idiomatic performances and spacious recording by these young musicians are absolutely first rate. This is a disc ... belonging in everyone's collection." In 2015 ACRONYM released a third album—the first recordings of Giovanni Valentini's instrumental works—which was praised in Gramophone for being "played with expertise, enthusiasm, and an almost tactile sense of timbre." In 2016 ACRONYM released its fourth album: Wunderkammer. Upcoming projects include the first recording of Samuel Capricornus's monumental "Jubilus Bernhardi" with the Bach Choir of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
Baritone Jesse Blumberg enjoys a busy schedule of opera, concerts, and recitals, performing repertoire from the Renaissance and Baroque to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He has performed roles at Minnesota Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Atlanta Opera, Boston Early Music Festival, and London’s Royal Festival Hall. Jesse has made concert appearances with American Bach Soloists, Boston Baroque, Apollo’s Fire, and on Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series, and he has performed recitals with the New York Festival of Song, Marilyn Horne Foundation, and Mirror Visions Ensemble. He has been featured on over fifteen commercial recordings, including Schubert’s Winterreise with pianist Martin Katz and the 2015 Grammy-winning Charpentier Chamber Operas with Boston Early Music Festival. Jesse is also the founder and artistic director of Five Boroughs Music Festival in New York City.
Johann Rosenmüller (1619–1684) was one of the most talented and prolific young composers in Germany; he was organist at Leipzig's Nikolaikirche and all-but-assured the upcoming Thomaskantor position (later held by J. S. Bach), when in 1655 he was arrested due to a sex scandal. Rosenmüller escaped from prison and fled to Venice, where he spent most of the rest of his life, performing at Saint Mark's Cathedral and teaching at the Ospedale della Pieta (decades before Vivaldi's tenure there).
The backstory is almost as rich as the music in this new recording by the early-music group Acronym and baritone Jesse Blumberg. Johann Rosenmüller (1619-84) was one of Leipzig's most promising composers until he was arrested for sodomy, escaped from prison, and fled to Venice, where he was a trombonist at St. Mark's Basilica and rebuilt his reputation as a composer. He wrote this collection of sonatas for string ensemble and cantatas for baritone voice while in exile. The music is excellent, reflecting some operatic influences of the early baroque period. Surfaces are poised and glossy, but one need not listen far to hear all kinds of under-the-surface restlessness and anguish. Curiously, the pieces end almost casually, with a "to-be-continued" quality. Performances are intelligent and animated. Sound production is first-class. Information: www.newfocusrecordings.com. - David Patrick Stearns
2017, NEW FOCUS RECORDINGS
The period music ensemble ACRONYM acts more like a contemporary music group. They call themselves a band, and that feels like a true description and not an affectation. While dedicated to period practice, their playing is not fussy, mannered or artificial. Moreover, the group has focused on recording works by lesser known composers of the early baroque, bringing to light delightfully obscure music. Consider the case of Johann Rosenmuller, who would have been Cantor of Thomaskirche in Leipzig (JS Bach’s future job) in the 1650s but for a scandal that landed him in prison. He escaped, fled to Italy, played trombone at St. Mark’s in Venice, and eventually became composer for the Ospedale della Pieta where Vivaldi was later employed. His music is no less intriguing than his life. It’s loaded with harmonic surprises and memorable melodies. I enthusiastically recommend all of ACRONYM’s previous releases.
Johann Rosenmüller (c. 1618-84) was an extraordinarily fine composer—highly regarded by his contemporaries, including Telemann—but he had his share of difficulty. After escaping from prison in Leipzig on charges of sodomy, he found employment in Venice. The motets and sonatas on this release were composed in his period of self-exile, and it is called “Johann Rosenmüller in Exile”.
This is the fourth recording of Rosenmüller’s music I have reviewed since 2011, and I have not been disappointed yet. In fact, I was so taken by Ensemble Masques’s performance of sonatas from his 1682 Nuremberg collection (ATMA 2660; Sept/Oct 2013) that I soon performed some of them with my own ensemble. This release by Acronym includes sonatas in E minor (No. 8), G minor (No. 4), and A minor (No. 6) from yet another of Rosenmüller’s publications—the Sonate da camera (Venice, 1667), and I am happy to report that they are as exquisite as his later sonatas. Like them they are composed in a single, multi-sectional movement. The major difference between them is that this earlier collection consists of a series of dances, as one would expect of chamber sonatas. Their charm, therefore, stems from frequent transitions from one dance-inspired affect to another, to say nothing of the gorgeous harmonies and expressive use of dissonance.
In the capable hands of these excellent musicians, they simply could not sound better. Acronym’s 2016 release of sonatas by Krieger, Bertali and the like was brilliant (Olde Focus 906; Sept/Oct 2016). And their recording of Johann Christoph Pezel’s Alphabet Sonatas was one of my Critics’ Choices for 2014 (Olde Focus 903; July/Aug 2014).
The motets are as beautiful as the sonatas. The program includes Domine Cor Meum Jam Ardet Impatiens, Aude Quid Times Gens Christo Dicata, Salve Mi Jesu, Pater Misericordiae, and Ascendit Invictissimus Salvator. Martha H. Brundage explains in her notes that Rosenmüller’s motets usually begin with a sonata; there follows a sequence of arias and recitatives alternating with short instrumental ritornellos. Adding the voice to the string ensemble seems to further unleash Rosenmüller’s creative genius, to explore new realms of expression distinguished by sudden shifts of rhythm, harmony, and flights of fiuratura in both the voice and violins. Jesse Blumberg’s rich baritone makes an ideal partner for the violin playing of Johanna Novom, Edwin Huizinga, Adriane Post, and Beth Wenstrom. Texts and notes are in English.
I’ve reviewed five previous CDs devoted entirely or significantly to the music of Johann Rosenmüller (1619–1684), who after Heinrich Schütz was arguably the most accomplished German composer of the mid-17th century. Consequently I won’t rehearse biographical and musicological details I’ve covered before and will just cut to the chase. These are all well-done performances, interpretively somewhat on the more aggressive side of the historic performance spectrum but not rabidly so in terms of rhythmic drive and instrumental pungency. Baritone Jesse Blumberg is solid, with a steady voice and good articulation but not a particularly distinctive timbre. The recorded sound is clear and up close; texts and translations are provided. With the possible exception of the vaguely identified instrumental sonatas, it appears that none of these works is previously listed in the Fanfare Archive, so it’s possible that at least some are premiere recordings, though none are specifically identified as such. Barring a systematically catalogued critical edition of the composer’s works, however, that’s essentially impossible to confirm or rebut. In any case, fellow fans of Rosenmüller’s music will gain and not lose in acquiring this; recommended. -- James A. Altena, © 2017 Fanfare