Music for Two Organs – The Viennese Habsburg Court of the 17th Century [TrackList follows] – David Blunden & Johannes Strobl, Bossart organs of Abbey Church of Muri/chorus on some tracks – Audite

by | Jan 14, 2013 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Music for Two Organs – The Viennese Habsburg Court of the 17th Century [TrackList follows] – David Blunden & Johannes Strobl, Bossart organs of Abbey Church of Muri/chorus on some tracks – Audite multichannel SACD 92.653, 72:36 [11/13/12] [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

This recording was made on the two small organs built in 1743 (and since restored) on the two sides of the Abbey Church of Muri, Switzerland. The monastery there was founded there, in the Swiss canton of Aargau, in 1027 by Benedictine monks. Later monks from the Black Forest resided there. The Abbey flourished for over eight centuries and had strong connections with the forefathers of and then the actual Habsburg Court in Vienna. It was later involved in the war between the Swiss Confederacy and their enemy—the Habsburgs. The monastery was moved to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and is now actually a part of Italy.

The SACD credits are a bit confusing. All 18 tracks are not for the two organs. There is a system of a series of asterisks identifying those tracks which are “distributed on two organs,” those which are “intabulated on two organs,” those which are solos played on one or the other of the two organists, and those which add to the organs the singing of a small choir of six male voices, coming from the rear of the sanctuary. (Around 1700 Gregorian chant was not sung a cappella, but with organ accompaniment.)

The court of the Habsburgs was extremely involved with musical performance. Two of the works are by Kaiser Leopold I, who was a fairly serious composer as well as a Holy Roman Emperor. Important musicians such as Johann Jakob Froberger, Johann Kaspar Kerll and Alessandro Poglietti were employed as court organists in Vienna. Some of their canzons, arias, fugues, ricercars, toccatas, and capriccios are heard on the disc. The intabulations are of double-choir motets and canzonas. It’s not all liturgical music either; there are little pieces imitating the cuckoo (a favorite musical inspiration of the Baroque) and even grasshoppers in one.

Though not tricked out with a lot of ranks and stops, the two organs sound fine in the several duets, and the ambiance of the building is clearly captured in Audite’s fine hi-res surround recording. There are four musicians galleries in the four corners of the space, so the Habsburg players created a sort of lower-budget version of the spatial musical performances that were the standard at St. Marks in Venice.


GIOVANNI PRIULI: Sacrorum concentuum … pars prima. Venedig 1618, GIOVANNI VALENTINI: Conzon a 6 [in G]; Conzon a 6 [in g]; Victimae paschali laudes (alternatim mit anonymen Praeambula), WOLFGANG EBNER: Toccata [in g]; Partite sopra l’Aria Favorita, JOHANN JAKOB FROBERGER: Libro secondo di toccate (Toccata [sexta] da sonarsi alla levatione); Libro quarto di toccate (Capriccio [quinto], Veni Sancte Spiritus (alternatim mit anonymen Praeambula)), LEOPOLD IGNATIUS JOSEPH BALTHASAR FELICIAN: Di Sua Maestà Cesarea Leopoldo Primo Arie (Allemanda. 60.a – Aria. 61.a – Canario. 62.a – Aria. 63.a – Gavotte. 64.a – Sarabanda. 65.a) , JOHANN CASPAR KERLL: Capriccio sopra il cucu; Fuga: Clamor grillorum campestrium, ALESSANDRO POGLIETTI: Conzon uber das Hennen und Hannen; Geschreÿ, Capriccio uber das Hennen; Geschr[eÿ] Daß Hannen Geschraÿ, FRANZ MATHIAS TECHELMANN: Toccate, Canzoni, Ricercari, et altre Galanterie per suonare d’organo et cembalo (Ricercar [in C]; Salve Regina)

—John Sunier

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