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JAKUB JAN RYBA: MISSA SOLEMNIS IN C

DNI 152

DNI168   [8595056601681]   released 1/2020

Markéta Böhmová soprano (2, 3, 5)
Tereza Maličkayová soprano (7)
Jarmila Balážová mezzo-soprano (2, 3)
Lucie Hilscherová mezzo-soprano (8, 10)
Matúš Šimko tenor (2, 3)
Jaroslav Patočka bass (2, 3, 9, 11)

L’Armonia Terrena & L'Armonia Vocale, conducted by Zdeněk Klauda

play album Ryba Missa Solemnis 56:17
1. Missa solemnis in C - Kyrie 4:05
2. Missa solemnis in C - Gloria 8:10
3. Missa solemnis in C - Credo 7:40
4. Missa solemnis in C - Sanctus 1:10
5. Missa solemnis in C - Benedictus 3:30
6. Missa solemnis in C - Agnus Dei 4:25
7. Octo ariae et duetto - O Deus ego amo te 4:44
8. Octo ariae et duetto - Jesu decus angelicum 4:03
9. Octo ariae et duetto - Eloquia Domini 4:31
10. Octo ariae et duetto - O Jesu mi dulcissime 3:42
11. Octo ariae et duetto - Et factus est 6:35
12. Salve Regina 3:11

Jakub Jan Ryba (October 26, 1765 - April 8, 1815) was a man of many talents whose legacy has been waiting for its rediscovery for more than two centuries. Ryba’s music is considered to be the pinnacle of the so-called cantorial music in the Czech lands, but in fact it exceeds the genre in many respects. After the exciting years of his Prague studies, the rest of his life was inadvertently linked to the rural environment, where he settled permanently as a teacher and choirmaster in the small town of Rožmitál. The musically stimulating environment in which he grew up nurtured his great talent and sustained him in unfavorable living conditions of his later life. Although he drew on his school years with constant diligence and toughness, the stigma of bitterness resulting from unfulfilled desires and dreams still lingered on and deepened his mental hardships in times of crisis.

In addition to music, Ryba also pursued literary activities. He was a devotee of his native Czech language and his contribution to the nascent national revival was exceptional. His most popular work at that time was his Funeral Songs, for which he also wrote texts in Czech, setting them to music and backing them with the harmony of wind instruments. As a teacher, he embraced the idea that people should be able to understand the sung word as much as possible and thus make the most of it. He contributed to the admittance of his mother tongue into the Latin liturgy mainly through compositions in which the use of the Czech text at that time was absolutely unique (Te Deum, Regina coeli, Stabat mater). One of the underrated highlights of these endeavors is his Singing Vespers, presented in a concert world premiere in June 2019 as part of the Jakub Jan Ryba Festival, for which he translated from Latin five Sunday Psalms and the Magnificat hymn, putting them into verse and setting to music. In the field of liturgical music with a Latin text that dominates his work, a unique and respectable project is his Cursus sacro-harmonicus. He worked on it diligently from 1808 until the end of his life. The concept of the set of songs is extraordinary in that it was to contain a mass, gradualia and offertoria for every Sunday of the liturgical year and prominent holidays. Although he managed to complete only one third of the compositions (from the 1st Advent Sunday to Maundy Thursday), they are without analogy not only in his own time but even much later. Another of his achievements is creating a Czech-language music theory, the first in Bohemia since the time of Jan Blahoslav (printed in 1817); he was also the author of the first art songs set to Czech text to be published in print. The conclusion of his life was marked by the plight after the state bankruptcy in 1811, departure from the introduction of school reforms and general disillusionment. Burdened with illness, exhaustion and hopeless life situation, he ended his life with his own hand.

Today it would be difficult to find anybody in our part of the world who has not heard the famous tune “Hey Master” from his world-acclaimed Czech Christmas Mass. However, no composer should live in a nation’s memory through a single composition, especially if his music is as rich, diverse and valuable as is the case with Ryba. Only about a third of the 1,500 pieces of music he has created in his difficult and relatively short life have survived to this day, but even from them we can see how skillfully he mastered the composition, adapting it to the conditions and operating apparatus at his disposal. Most of his compositions, however, attest to the qualities of the singers he wrote for, whether they performed in large cities or in small towns like Rožmitál. Ryba’s Latin masses and arias, the cross-section of which was chosen for this CD, are the best evidence. He perceived spiritual creation as the most effective means of uplifting the soul to God – the creator, who was his “purest joy.” It was primarily to truly touch human hearts, to arouse sublime, gentle, benevolent and kind feelings in those who listened and detach them from earthly matters. The genuine joy flowing from his music is a reflection of his deep conviction and the best proof of his own maxim, “what comes from heart reaches heart.” In the vast majority of his sacred compositions, he set the codified text of the Latin Ordinary with its five or six immutable parts of Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei, which was understood by everyone at the time. Such masses were, in fact, universal liturgical compositions, in which variable components with corresponding texts were inserted as needed and for a particular holiday.

The musical material for the Missa solemnis in C for Festo Resurrectionis (N 347) is deposited at the Czech Museum of Music in Prague (sign. III D 43). Ryba himself left no information in any of his biographies about the circumstances of its composition. In a thematic inventory of his works, which he added to a collection of masses from 1796, it is listed as the fourth with a twobar incipit, dated 1788. If it was written in Rožmitál, which is most likely, it might have been one of the first to be composed by the young cantor in his new place of work. If he wanted to introduce himself as a composer of skill, he could have created it in the first month of his stay in Rožmitál, at a time he still had no guarantee of staying. As its name suggests, it was designated to be performed on the Feast of the Resurrection of the Lord, which in that year fell on a very early date, 23 March. However, it could have been written in the later months and performed outside the Easter period or at Easter the following year. Musically, the Mass is characterized by the advanced compositional language of Viennese classicism and the serenity of all the components used. The orchestra is quite rich: flauto traverso concertante, with a typical flute, a pair of oboes, horns, trumpets, timpani, string instruments and an organ basso continuo. Most of the parts are composed for a mixed choir (SATB) with small vocal solos, clearly intended for choir singers. The only exception is the Benedictus, which is conceived as a soprano aria accompanied by a basso continuo and two solo violas. As in other compositions, Ryba often works with individual instrument groups separately so that the resulting score contains as many sound colors and their shades as possible. The overall concept of the Mass corresponds fully to the primary purpose, and the dimensions of the individual parts are designed so as not to disturb the liturgy. However, when we speak of a serviceable plan, we do not mean any form of routine or everyday invention. Ryba’s eminent interest in sacred music resulted from his dynamic experience of faith, and music was a means for him to make the content and emotional charge of the liturgical text stand out and bring love and determination to people’s hearts. In this respect, this Mass is nothing of an exception.

The Kyrie opens the Mass ordinary in a quiet and humble atmosphere by the entrance of string instruments. The music is in the mood of Schubert’s Mass No. 2 in G major, especially in terms of its naturalness and simplicity. The choir’s homophonic entrances are alternated by antithesis in the form of a unison dotted rhythm of string instruments, sometimes supported by horns and in the upper octave dyed with Ryba’s favorite instrument, the flute. The Christe eleison is introduced by a small fugato, which gradually grows in volume so that the Kyrie eleison can return to the full tutti of the entire ensemble, which is then treated as a fugue exposition. The antithetic motif from the introductory section is not forgotten, but Ryba continues to work with it in the bass instruments (violas, cello, double bass) and develops it into a figuration, which thus accompanies the music he expressively opposed in the exposition. The formal three-part structure of this part is concluded by a free reminiscence of the introduction. A small coda is created from descending motifs in the violin and oboe, and the music melts into the silence from which it originated. The Gloria begins in the full sound of both the orchestra and the choir and is truly a celebration. The rising scale motifs in the string instruments seem to be ascending toward God. The syncopic accompaniment of the first violin further agitates the overall charge of this movement. Then comes the motif of alternating tones in a second rate, which the composer later used, for example, in his famous Latin Stabat mater, where he stepped up the dramatic circumstances preceding Jesus’ crucifixion. Here the motif is set in a major key context and can be seen as a glorious movement. Later, it gives birth to an accompanying component (unison of the whole string group), where in a very untypical way in only two bands (1st choir unisono – quasi chant, 2nd string figuration) he sets the text “et in terra pax hominibus.” While this solution is novel (but dramatically very impressive), it also takes into account the good clarity of the newly exposed text. The Laudamus Te is a musical reprint of the Gloria. The Domine Deus is entrusted to a solo alto, accompanied only by a fine texture of string instruments and supported by the flute in the upper octave. The Qui tollis is entrusted to a solo vocal quartet accompanied by string instruments. Both groups are largely independent. The orchestral group is dominated by an ostinato figure of the first violin. Vocal lines, on the other hand, run horizontally in long phrases that elegantly span the ostinato. The Quoniam Tu solus again brings the return of the opening Gloria. The whole section of the Gloria is then ended by an SATB fugue on the text Amen. At the very end, Ryba composes the code from the main thematic material of the Gloria. Overall, this part has the character of a rondo: A-B-A-C-D-A-E-KA. The core of the Credo ordinary is again based on the quasi-chant mode of music, wherein the author combines all voice groups into a single massive unison of the people who confess: “Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem,” accompanied by an equally tight group of string instruments. This raw treatment reminds one of another music giant, Ludwig van Beethoven, with whom Ryba shared a number of character traits and a musical way of thinking. The composer then relieves the urgency by solos for alto (Deum de Deo), tenor (Genitum non factum) and bass (Qui propter). The Et incarnatus is conceived onomatopoetically, the music apparatus being reduced only to strings and a solo singing quartet. In terms of architecture, Ryba spans a large arc from the initial Et incarnatus to the top of the Crucifixus etiam pro nobis and back to the Passus et sepultus est. In accordance with the meaning of the text, the Et resurexit brings joyful music with bright colors dominated by trumpets, horns and timpani. The Credo then closes with the prase Et vitam, which is set to music as an SATB fugue with a homophonic finish. Sanctus is very brief in relation to the other parts of the Mass. Initially, Ryba again uses imitation counterpoint and in a meditative atmosphere accompanied by string instruments, he gradually employs all four solo parts, to be joined by the whole choir and orchestra in the ceremonial Pleni sunt coeli et terra sound. The Benedictus is conceived as a solo aria entrusted with soprano, the accompaniment being reduced from the overall orchestral sound to basso continuo and two solo violas. It is an oasis of chamber music within the whole composition. The sacral ordinarium is closed by the Agnus Dei. The introduction is again entrusted to soloists, who are later joined by the choir. The style and character of this movement is purely Mozartean. Remarkable are the three bars of seemingly ordinary scale procedures (violin, flute) with a bass delay (viola), which sounds a total of four times and creates a kind of stop in time for meditation. The whole Mass then ends with a humble reconciliation in the pianissimo of the choir and the entire orchestra.

Arias and duets are the smallest formations of ecclesiastical music, but in Ryba’s work they rank along with the largest (i.e. Masses) among the most numerous, with more than eighty surviving. Ryba continued composing melodically polished and virtuoso pieces for one or two singing parts for the rest of his life. The texts he set to music were mostly non-liturgical, exclusively in Latin. He wrote large coloratura arias for soprano, exceptionally also for bass; those for alto and tenor tend to be more sober, but melodically warm (J. Němeček). The selection on this CD comes from a collection entitled Octo ariae et duetto (N 32-40), which was first published in the author’s lifetime by Josef Polt, a bookseller in Prague. Ryba noted this event in his Family Diary as follows: In 1808. I published 8 temple arias and one duetto for temple choir at the same bookseller. He certainly wanted to make the most of the opportunity to publish, so he chose, or rather re-composed, two arias for each singing part, of which the first usually carries a melodic component and the other a technical, virtuoso one. The collection finishes with a duet for soprano and alto, only accompanied by two violas and an organ; their popularity is attested by numerous copies with variations of instrumentation and text, spread across many Czech choirs. It opens with two soprano arias with texts expressing an inner relationship with God. None of the instruments of the supporting orchestra in either of them, like the tenor arias, has a solo function, as is the case with the alto and bass arias. The musical language of this entire collection is firmly embedded in Classicism and is accompanied by a sense of balance of proportions, clear formal structure and fresh invention.

The aria O Deus ego amo te for soprano is composed in a relatively virtuoso manner, containing a lot of coloratura and offering opportunities for further decoration according to the possibilities of the soloist. It is also interesting in that it contains a quotation of the melody from Ryba’s most famous pastoral The Little Nightingale, namely the words “sing, sing, to my baby Jesus.” In the first alto aria called Jesu decus angelicum (N34) a solo viola is used in a concerted way. Even this aria is not without coloratura passages, but its character is more intimate. In the following aria O Jesu mi dulcissime (N 35) a solo clarinet is exposed. This aria is probably the simplest of all, but even in its undoubtedly deliberate simplicity, the impressiveness of Ryba’s melody and imaginative work with the instrumentation used are contained. Interestingly, the first entry of the clarinet is reminiscent of the opening of Tamino’s aria Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön from Mozart’s The Magic Flute with its melodic outline. From this and many other apparent borrowings from The Magic Flute, it would seem that Ryba must have known the opera. It is uncertain whether he actually heard it during his student years in Prague, or acquired it later in print. The last two arias for the solo bass to the texts of Old Testament Psalms are a most obvious peak. It is a challenging aria that requires a soloist to have a full two octave range from the large Es to es1. It contains decimal jumps, where the author assumes perfect legato and advanced singing technique. The solo bassoon is matched with a clarinet. The last aria of the whole ensemble, the extensive bass aria on selected verses from Psalms 9 and 10 entitled Et factus est (N 39), in which three instruments (clarinet, horn, viola) are conceived as concertante, is quite exceptional. The aria consists of two parts, the first slow part (Adagio) being filled with emotionally charged text and gradually exposing all soloists. The second and faster part (Allegro) is of a virtuoso nature, especially its vocal part with its spectacular coloraturas, not as commonplace in bass as in soprano. Ryba also uses the recitativo accompagnato (accompanied by an orchestra) in an operatic style, which makes the aria completely unique within this area of his work.

In Ryba’s time, church music was never performed as a “concert” in our sense; it was an organic part of the liturgy that was its basis, inspiration, and raison d’ętre. Music was played exclusively from the loft to enhance the spiritual experience, but the attention of those present was focused on the main altar where the Mass was being served. Masterful instrumentation, remarkable work with the text with an emphasis on its meaning and undeniable devotion and respect for the liturgy make even these small compositions spiritually profound, musicaly valuable and listener-friendly. In the course of his life, Ryba set the medieval text of the Marian antiphon Salve Regina to music many times. Whereas their total number is unknown, thirteen of these compositions have survived, although for two of them, Ryba’s authorship is not certain. Two other compositions that he lists as his own are missing, including the one from 1774, the first composition he mentioned in his musical biography in connection with his musical beginnings, composed at the age of nine. Thus, one of the most famous Marian prayers accompanied him throughout his life. In some versions he used one or two solo parts, but mostly all four singing parts are accompanied by an orchestra with a diverse cast, from the most modest to the richest, comparable to the greatest of the Church’s works. The composition chosen for this CD (N 294) is preserved in the individual parts of the organ and four singing parts and stored in the Moravian Museum in Brno under sign. A.32.548. The handwriting is clearly Ryba’s, dating from 1809 and explicitly mentioning that he composed it at the age of 44. On the right hand side of the title page is the inscription Ex rebus Guilielmi Ryba paedag: Rosmital 1815, referring to Ryba’s son Vilém, who became a teacher in Rožmitál after his father’s death and possessed musical material of some of his works, including parts of the Czech Christmas Mass. This Salve Regina is one of the least conventional of Ryba’s works: contrary to his own usual practice, he gave up the orchestra altogether, leaving only the organ (basso continuo). Thus he left maximum space for a remarkable polyphony of four singing parts, which he used extensively and masterfully in his most valuable works. For most of the time, it is a free polyphony with imitation elements, and the composition is free of any routine techniques of the craft. On the contrary, it is clear that this is a work imbued with inspiration. The effect of individual text passages is underlined rhetorically, harmoniously and in color. The Ad te clamamus (We call you) and the Ad te suspiramus (We sigh to you) are accentuated by diminished seventh chords that are contained both latently in the individual melodic lines and harmoniously as the vertical resultant of polyphonic voice guidance. The In hac lacrimarum vale (In this vale of tears) is expressed by a sequence of descending sixth chords. However, the whole composition is made up of a single motif core that undergoes various transformations during its course. This unifying monothematicity is characteristic of the whole composition, and although it is a small piece (80 bars), it is one of the best examples of Ryba’s compositional mastery.

Hubert Hoyer and Zdeněk Klauda


Conductor Zdeněk Klauda (b. 1979) is a versatile artist. In addition to his career as a conductor, he devotes himself to conducting music at the National Theater in Prague and at the same time he is the programming director of the Jakub Jan Ryba Festival. He started his international career in 2008 when he was invited to conduct Dvořák’s Rusalka at the Salzburg Festival. Since then he has been a regular guest at prestigious European opera houses (the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, the Semper Opera in Dresden, the Vienna State Opera and the Paris National Opera). In 2012, he participated in the musical production of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen for the Glyndebourne Festival and Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro in the following season. In 2012 he won the third prize at the conducting competition in Constan?a, Romania. As an assistant he has worked with conductors Franz Welser-Möst, Kyrill Petrenko, Vladimir Jurowski and Tomáš Netopil. He is the founder and principal conductor of his own orchestra of the Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra L’Armonia Terrena, in which he cooperates with top Czech musicians. For Nibiru Publishers, he has recorded three CDs with his orchestra. The first, called DECADE, features soprano Simona Šaturová and works by Mozart and Mysliveček; the second with the world premiere of Ryba’s Stabat Mater was awarded the prestigious DIAPASON DÉCOUVERTE award, and in September 2019 a new recording of Antonín Rejcha’s Requiem was released at the same label. He has appeared with Czech orchestras (South Bohemian Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, Hradec Králové Philharmonic Orchestra, Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra Olomouc, Pardubice Philharmonic Orchestra), opera houses (National Moravian-Silesian Theater in Ostrava) and major Czech festivals (St. Wenceslas Music Festival). He regularly collaborates with top Czech orchestras and world-class singers such as Simona Šaturová, Adam Plachetka and Veronika Dzhioeva. In January 2018 he made his debut as a conductor on the stage of the Moscow New Opera. In the same year he performed with the National Theater Orchestra in Prague at the world premiere of Augustin Šenkýř’s oratorio Dies Numini et Principi. In January 2019 he participated in the musical production of The Bartered Bride at the Semper Opera in Dresden, made his debut at the Košice State Philharmonic, and in February 2019 debuted at the National Theater in the performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. In the 2019/2020 season he will conduct Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro at the National Theater in Prague. In November 2019 he performed with his orchestra as a guest of the Czech Chamber Music Society as part of their concert season for the Czech Philharmonic.

 

The L’Armonia Terrena Chamber Philharmonic is a permanent artistic ensemble made up of top instrumentalists in the field of interpretation of solo, chamber and orchestral music, headed by the prominent artist, concertmaster Jan Valta (Herold Quartet). The orchestra was founded in 2014 by conductor Zdeněk Klauda on the occasion of the project of a solo album of soprano Simona Šaturová Decade with opera work of two musical geniuses of classicism, Josef Mysliveček and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, released in the same year by Nibiru Publishers. Since 2016 the orchestra has been a regular guest of festivals and prestigious organizers, where the audience is presented mainly with works of Czech masters of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Under the brand of L’Armonia Terrena, members of leading Czech chamber ensembles (Czech Philharmonic Quartet, Baborák Ensemble, Herold Quartet, Sedláček Quartet, Doležal Quartet, Hans Beauty String Quartet, etc.), leading Czech orchestras (Czech Philharmonic, National Theater) and outstanding young soloists play modern instruments together, yet with a view to the uniqueness of style of the repertoire. Their recording of the world premiere of Ryba’s Latin Stabat Mater also won the prestigious DIAPASON DÉCOUVERTE award. Ryba’s Stabat Mater will be performed on 7 April 2020 in the Church of Sts. Simon and Juda as part of the chamber cycle of the City of Prague FOK Prague Symphony Orchestra. In September 2019, the orchestra released a new CD with the recording of the world premiere of Antonín Rejcha’s Requiem at Nibiru Publishers; the same label is expected to release a CD with Jakub Jan Ryba’s Missa Solemnis in C per Festo Resurrectionis. The orchestra will perform this work by Ryba in a concert on May 18, 2020 at the Basilica on the Holy Mountain near Příbram as part of the third annual Jakub Jan Ryba Festival.


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