Early-music ensembles TENET Vocal Artists and ACRONYM have joined forces to make the first commercial recording of a sumptuous work by composer Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (1623-1680), a sepolcro set in the tomb of Christ.
|01||Instrumental: Sonata a5 in A Minor (Le Memorie Dolorose)|
Instrumental: Sonata a5 in A Minor (Le Memorie Dolorose)
|02||Trio: Così è morto il mio Signore?|
Trio: Così è morto il mio Signore?
|03||Recit: Forse i queruli accenti|
Recit: Forse i queruli accenti
|04||Trio & Aria: È morto Giesù|
Trio & Aria: È morto Giesù
|05||Trio: Madre purissima|
Trio: Madre purissima
|06||Recit: E quali mi destate|
Recit: E quali mi destate
|07||Aria: Miei Lumi Dolenti|
Aria: Miei Lumi Dolenti
|08||Recit: Ò quali, Pietro|
Recit: Ò quali, Pietro
|09||Aria: Con il Bacio, ch’è pur pegno|
Aria: Con il Bacio, ch’è pur pegno
|10||Recit: Voi pur, Angeli|
Recit: Voi pur, Angeli
|11||Aria: La Morte di Giesù|
Aria: La Morte di Giesù
|12||Recit: Col cruento Holocausto|
Recit: Col cruento Holocausto
|13||Instrumental: Sonata a4 in A Minor (GB-Ob ms.mus.Sch. C.44)|
Instrumental: Sonata a4 in A Minor (GB-Ob ms.mus.Sch. C.44)
|14||Quartetto & Aria: La Vera luce|
Quartetto & Aria: La Vera luce
|15||Recit: Accompagnate pur le mie dolenti|
Recit: Accompagnate pur le mie dolenti
|16||Aria: Come, come s’arrestò|
Aria: Come, come s’arrestò
|17||Recit: Lassa! Vi rammentate|
Recit: Lassa! Vi rammentate
|18||Aria: Mio Giesù, mio Redentore|
Aria: Mio Giesù, mio Redentore
|19||Recit: Da lo spogliarsi il Popolo le Vesti|
Recit: Da lo spogliarsi il Popolo le Vesti
|20||Aria: La Porpora, Ornamento|
Aria: La Porpora, Ornamento
|21||Recit: Udite, udite un altra|
Recit: Udite, udite un altra
|22||Aria: Morte à Christo!|
Aria: Morte à Christo!
|23||Instrumental: Sonata a5 in G Minor (CZ-Kra IV:63)|
Instrumental: Sonata a5 in G Minor (CZ-Kra IV:63)
|24||Duetto: Quel, che nato, e non creato|
Duetto: Quel, che nato, e non creato
|25||Recit: Dal Sepolcro di Christo|
Recit: Dal Sepolcro di Christo
|26||Aria: Per Te, per Te morì|
Aria: Per Te, per Te morì
|27||Recit: A Donna di Samaria|
Recit: A Donna di Samaria
|28||Aria: Quella sete, Christo mio|
Aria: Quella sete, Christo mio
|29||Recit: Ah stella, che apparisti|
Recit: Ah stella, che apparisti
|30||Trio: Christo more!|
Trio: Christo more!
|31||Recit: Sì, sì, affisso ad un Tronco|
Recit: Sì, sì, affisso ad un Tronco
|32||Tutti: Sepolto Christo!|
Tutti: Sepolto Christo!
|34||Tutti: Se per mè l’Onnipotente|
Tutti: Se per mè l’Onnipotente
The grieving Virgin—played by TENET artistic director Jolle Greenleaf— encounters two angels, three Apostles (Saints John, James, and Peter), three Marys (Magdalene, Cleopas, and Salome), Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea. Each character tells her a story about Jesus, “dolorous memories” which only add to her torment.Read More
From the program notes:
This disc includes the first recording of works by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, both his oratorio staged during Holy Week, Le Memorie dolorose (first performed in Vienna on Good Friday 1678), as well as two instrumental pieces. After decades as a highly valued violinist and composer of instrumental music to both Emperors Ferdinand III (r. 1637-57) and Leopold I (r. 1658-1705) at the Habsburg court of Vienna, Schmelzer became the head chapelmaster to Leopold for a few years (1677-80) before succumbing to the plague while the court was in Prague.
Since our oratorio was one of about seventy performed in front of a constructed reproduction of Christ’s Tomb in the royal chapels, and because it (like most but not all examples of the genre) is in Italian, it belongs to the subgenre called sepolcri, from the Italian word for “tomb.” Two instrumental works inserted into this recording as interludes come from collections in Oxford and Kromĕřiž (Czech Republic), the latter being the other major source (besides Vienna) for the composer’s music.
Engineering, producing, and mastering: Ryan Streber, Oktaven Audio
Mixing: Jolle Greenleaf and Ryan Streber
Editing: Brock Babcock and Kivie Cahn-Lipman
Modern edition, sonatas: Charles Brewer
Modern edition, Le Memorie Dolorose: Kivie Cahn-Lipman
Translation: Martin Morell
Program notes: Robert Kendrick
Italian diction coach: Charles Weaver
Ensemble photo: Joanne Bouknight
Design: Marc Wolf (marcjwolf.com)
This recording is dedicated to the 172 generous donors who helped crowdfund it. Thank you so much for your support!
Preëminent New York City-based early music ensemble TENET Vocal Artists celebrates its tenth season in 2018/19. Under Artistic Director Jolle Greenleaf, TENET has won acclaim for its innovative programming, virtuosic singing and command of repertoire that spans the Middle Ages to the present day. TENET’s distinguished soloists have been praised for their pristine one-voice-to-a-part singing “to an uncanny degree of precision” (The Boston Globe).
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.http://www.acronymensemble.com
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer died of plague in 1680, only a few months after being awarded the position of Kapellmeister at the imperial court of the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I. Schmelzer had worked for many years at the Hapsburg court, first as a violinist and composer for Leopold’s father, Emperor Ferdinand III, and later director of instrumental music and vice-Kapellmeister for Leopold. He was widely known as one of the best violinists in Europe, and was an influential composer of instrumental music, especially the violin sonata.
Yet Schmelzer, as an employee of the emperor, wrote music for all occasions, as befitting the needs of the imperial court. The Viennese court tradition for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday included performances of sepolcri, an oratorio-like genre staged with characters, scenery, and dramatic action in front of a replication of the tomb of Jesus. This album is the first recording of one of Schmelzer’s three sepolcri, Le Memorie dolorose (The Dolorous Memories), first performed on Good Friday in 1678 and containing two recitative-aria sections composed by Leopold himself. Also receiving their first recordings are two of Schmelzer’s instrumental sonatas, inserted into the sepolcro as tracks 13 and 23.
Le Memorie dolorose tells the story of the Passion and burial of Jesus from the perspective of various characters, including the Virgin Mary, the three Marys who were believed to have visited the tomb of Jesus (the Marys Magdalene, Cleopas, and Salome), Joseph of Arimathea, several disciples, and a host of angels. The sepolcro’s libretto, written by court poet Nicolo Minato (lightly edited on this recording to remove anti-Semitic references), pairs ten happy memories of Jesus’ life with ten sad ones, each pair sharing a central theme; the last, for example, contrasts the raising of Lazarus from the dead with the burial of Jesus.
The recording is luminous. The singers of TENET Vocal Artists, both solo and tutti, exude a sense of refined pathos and rhetorical gesture apropos for the work’s original intimate courtly setting. The instrumentalists of ACRONYM more than match them in emotiveness; the continuo is warm, resonant, and supportive, the full ensemble beautifully unified. The enthusiasm and sense of attack in the plucked strings, counterbalanced by the sweet melodic lines of the upper voices, and the full ensemble’s commitment to the different moods of each section, show the first interpolated sonata to be a real hidden gem.
In the pop-music world, a supergroup is a musical ensemble made up of artists well known for their other solo or ensemble work. Although named separately here, both TENET and ACRONYM are stars in early music. Both ensembles have consistently received the highest praise for both their engaging live performances and recordings, which have included everything from warhorses such as the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 to premiere recordings of works by Biber, Valentini, and now, Schmelzer. This album is TENET’s sixth recording, ACRONYM’s ninth, but their first together, and the combination is nothing short of “super.” A highly recommended album, and may we hope that these two ensembles join forces again.
-Karen Cook, 6.17.19, Early Music America