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Jan Anselm Fridrich: Musica in luctu sive piae considerationes in amarissimam Christi passionem (oratorio)
František Ignác Antonín Tůma: Stabat mater


F10246   [8595017424625]   released 11/2019   

play all Fridrich Tůma Musica Florea 68:12
Musica in luctu - Introductio 3:58
Musica in luctu - Recitativo 1:31
Musica in luctu - Aria I. Largo 7:47
Musica in luctu - Aria II. Largo 6:15
Musica in luctu - Aria III. Tardissime 7:40
Musica in luctu - Aria IV. Adagio 7:01
Musica in luctu - Aria V. Tarde 8:12
Musica in luctu - Aria VI. Largo 3:45
Musica in luctu - Chorus. Andante 4:56
Stabat Mater - Largetto 2:17
Stabat Mater - Chorus 1:48
Stabat Mater - Andante / Largetto / Andante 1:50
Stabat Mater - Chorus 1:39
Stabat Mater - Aria. Largetto 3:16
Stabat Mater - Chorus et soli 1:43
Stabat Mater - Chorus 1:46

Musica Florea, Collegium Floreum
Marek Štryncl
, conductor
World premiere recordings

Music and the Production of Oratorios at the Monastery in Želiv

In the eighteenth century, the Želiv monastery of the Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré was one of the most important spiritual and cultural centres in the borderlands of Bohemia and Moravia. There, music was an essential part of the liturgy and other ceremonies, including those of a secular character. To a large extent, music was performed by pupils at the Latin grammar school founded at the monastery in 1652. The students there were expected to have musical ability even before their admission to the school, and those abilities were further developed under the supervision of specially chosen teachers (cantor musicae) who were usually members of the order. The youngest pupils regularly sang soprano or alto at worship services at the monastery’s Church of the Nativity of Our Lady, while some of the older pupils served as instrumentalists as well.

The quality of the music at the Želiv monastery is perhaps best documented by its preserved music collection, which now contains, if we set aside a few liturgical books (antiphonaries, hymn books etc.), more than 660 compositions from the years between 1707 and 1858. The bulk of the collection consists of compositions from the latter half of the eighteenth century, including many works by important Czech and foreign composers such as A. Boroni, F. X. Brixi, C. Ditters von Dittersdorf, B. Galuppi, C. W. Gluck, J. A. Hasse, J. Lohelius-Oehlschlägel, V. Mašek, J. Mysliveček, J. J. Ryba, A. Reichenauer, and J. A. Sehling. The most valuable compositions include a unique set of cantatas titled Cithara Nova (1707) by Josef Leopold Václav Dukát (1684–1717), who served in various musical capacities at the monastery during the last years of his life. The collection mostly contains liturgical works, which cover virtually the whole church year, as well as opera arias that were used at various ceremonial worship services, but with new Latin texts. The few instrumental compositions (symphonies, concertos, divertimentos, partitas) can be connected with musical recreatio, entertainments performed upon the visits of important guests, celebrating the abbots’ name day or birthday, feasts, or purely for the entertainment of the brethren.

Another of the traditions at Želiv, of course, was the performing of lengthy Passion oratorios, designated as oratorium musicum or opera passionis. One of them was performed in 1764 as part of the Good Friday services. The work’s full title is Musica in luctu sive piae considerationes in amarissimam Christi passionem ex prophetarum Oraculis extractae et sacro die Parasceves in Monasterio Fontis B. V. Mariae ad Zaram post solis occasum ad sepulcrum Domini auri et audiendum: Menti ad conteplandum Oratorio musico praepositae (Music of Sorrow or Pious Meditation on the bitter suffering of Christ, selected from the books of the prophets and performed on the holy day of Good Friday at the monastery at the Fountain of the Blessed Virgin Mary after the setting of the sun at the Lord’s Tomb, to be seen and heard for reflection and contemplation). As the title page tells us, the work was not originally performed in Želiv, but instead at the Cistercian monastery in Žďár nad Sázavou, which at the least equalled the Želiv monastery with respect to the producing of oratorios.

The oratorio is by Jan Anselm Fridrich, the organist in Žďár, about whose life and works we know almost nothing, unfortunately. In the records of the monastery Žďár archives kept by the archivist Otto Steinbach, only one mention of Fridrich appears: “in 1769, the composer and famed organist Anselm Fridrich died.” J. A. Fridrich’s composition seems to have found its way to Želiv during the tenure of Abbot Arnošt Morávek (1752–1774), but regular contacts between the two monasteries have also been documented for the previous years. A performance in Želiv is documented by inscriptions dated 1764, made in the clarino parts by the copyists, pupils from the Želiv grammar school. The work’s libretto is in Latin, and as was customary at the monastery, it was written by a monk, but we do not know his name. The text is based on excerpts from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (in particular a direct quote of Isaiah 53:6 in the alto aria). Of the performance material for this oratorio, four vocal and nine instrumental parts have been preserved: two violins, viola, solo cello, two clarinos, alto and tenor trombone, and organ. The oratorio begins with a two-part overture. Apart from the imitative second part, the oratorio shows us Fridrich as a composer in the gallant style. After an introductory recitative in which two voices speak together about Christ’s suffering, there follow recitatives and da capo arias The lovely alto aria Peccator non morare (Sinner, do not wait), accompanied by solo cello, offers the sinner a conciliatory solution. The soprano has solos in two different ranges, first in a major key in the aria Planctu cor concidit (The heart faints with sorrow), then in the aria Dura corda convolate (Gather together, you hardened hearts) in the key of E minor, in which she is accompanied by two trombones highlighting the soprano’s melodic line. The tenor aria Compucto corde suspira (Mourn the pierced heart) places great demands on the singer, and it is accompanied in certain passages colla parte. The trombones in the concluding chorus serve the role of solo instruments, which strengthen the musical affect of the text connected with the cry Plangite montes, en in cruce moritur justus (Weep, O mountains, behold, the Righteous One has died on a cross).

Among the other compositions preserved in the Želiv music collection, this work stands out for the size of the instrumental forces and the dramatic treatment of the theme of the Passion. Among other things, the composition documents that besides imported repertoire, noteworthy works composed in a contemporary musical style were being created directly in the environment of the monastery.

Pavla Semerádová

Fridrich’s oratorio is joined on the recording by another composition on the theme of the Passion, the Stabat Mater by František Ignác Antonín Tůma (1704-1774), a heretofore little-known Czech composer, who spent most of his musical career in Vienna. Tůma composed his Stabat mater in G minor in 1747, just a few months after he was hired as the court organist for Empress Elisabeth Christine, the widow of Charles VI and the mother of Empress Maria Theresa. Tůma’s composition is now famous as a masterpiece in the sacred style. It calls for four vocal parts and continuo, in accordance with the tradition of the stile pieno, meaning it primarily uses choral writing instead of the fashionable operatic or cantata approach with many arias and ensembles, chosen by such composers as Alessandro Scarlatti or Giovanni Battista Pergolesi for their equally valuable works. Instead, Tůma’s work ties in with the tradition of Emanuele d’Astorga; he divides the text into smaller sections and employs homophonic and polyphonic writing in a variety of ways. The effectiveness of the composition rests upon its remarkable breadth of invention (melodic, harmonic, formal), allowing Tůma to set the text of the sequence from the Middle Ages using many shades of colour, but the composer also exhibits great discipline in how he perfectly combines all of the diverse components of the musical structure into a stylistically sophisticated unity.

Marc Niubò

Further recordings by Marek Štryncl and Musica Florea orchestra:


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