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Jan Josef Ignác Brentner

DNI148   [8595056601483]   released 2008  

play all J.J.I.Brentner:Vesperae - Ensemble Inégal 53:44
Antiphona ad Dixit 0:24
Dixit Dominus 1:45
Virgam virtutis ruae 2:19
Dominus a dextris tuis 1:44
Gloria Patri 1:52
Antiphona ad Confitebor 0:25
Confitebor 2:41
Sanctum et terribile nomen ejus 0:56
Antiphona ad Beatus vir 0:21
Beatus vir 2:05
Antiphona ad Laudate pueri 0:25
Laudate pueri 4:18
Antiphona ad Laudate Dominum 0:18
Laudate Dominum 1:17
Gloria Patri 1:17
Antiphona ad Magnificat 0:38
Magnificat 1:13
Quia respexit 2:50
Gloria Patri 6:18
Domine non sum dignus 2:22
In te confido 3:18
Oderit me totus mundus 3:23
Parce mihi Domine 6:25
Gloria et honore 4:34
O beata 3:40

Ensemble Inégal, Prague Baroque Soloists
conductor: Adam Viktora

Soprano: Gabriela Eibenová (solo), Barbora Sojková
Alto: Lester Lardenoye (solo), Marta Fadljevièová
Tenor: Jaromír Bøezina (solo), Hasan El Dunia
Bass: Tomáš Král (solo), Jaromír Nosek

1st violin: Helena Zemanová, Simona Tydlitátová, Jan Hádek, 2nd violin: Dagmar Valentová, Lýdie Cillerová, Magdalena Malá, cello: Hana Fleková, viola da gamba: Petr Wagner, double-bass: Ondøej Štajnochr, organ: Jan Doležel, bassoon: Kryštof Lada, theorbo: Jan Krejèaoboe: Petra Myšková, clarino: Christoph Dräger, Karel Mòuk

The recording was made on autentic instrument. Pitch A = 415 Hz Valotti

We usually find our way about the history of European classical music by the names of composers. Although music in itself is what matters here, it is the names of the music makers that help us to avoid getting lost in the immense multitude of compositions, and it is the composers´ life stories that help us to write the history of music. Untile recently, though, the name of Jan Josef Ignác Brentner rang a bell in the minds of but a few. We know next to nothing about his life, and his position in the history of Czech music has been recognised – or as Czech historian Dušan Tøeštík would put it – „invented“ since not very long ago.

It was in particular Emilián Trolda who had a lion´s share in the rediscovery of Brentner´s music by retrieving, in the middle of the 20th century, most of the composer´s then available works, and by finding the basic facts about his origin. However, even afterwards, Brentner remained for decades off the limelight of Czech musicological interest with its ethnic preferences and concern about Czech musicians abroad. With respect to his name and birthplace, Brentner was believed to belong among Bohemian Germans because in his time it was the regional affiliation (he may well have been referred to as „Bohemian“) rather than the native language that mattered more and that, in this case, we know nothing about anyway. Much the same applies to sacred music, the bulk of Brentner´s preserved work – for a variety of reasons, the whole extensive and poorly explorable repertoire of Baroque religious music was long left unexplored by music researchers and musicians alike.

Jan Josef Ignác Brentner was born in 1689 at the village of Dobøany near Plzeò (Pilsen, western Bohemia), and died at the same place in 1742, a bachelor and „praeclarus componista“. What happened in between is more or less guesswork. He did spend at least some time in the Lesser Town of Prague, composing concertos for the Count Thun music ensemble, obviously working also for Lesser Town Jesuits, and for the Order of the Cross choir. Nevertheless, his preserved compositions are the only solid evidence of Brentner´s existence. Four collections of these were published in Prague in the years 1716-1720. Style-wise, they show discernible Italian inspiration coming, for instance, from the then very popular music by Vivaldi. The medium, too, was similar; Italian concertos and sonatas in those times often spread in German-speaking lands in the form of printed collections. The sacred music preponderance over instrumental music is, within the context of contemporary prints, entirely characteristic of the domestic, or broadly speaking, south-German-Bohemian-Austrian surroundings. Instead of the usual collection of trio sonatas, Brentner chose for his first printed opus a set of arias on spiritual texts; also his two other collections were devoted to sacred music, while only the fourth one contained instrumental concertos. In those days, arias represented a very popular and musically progressive segment of church music. Beside Brentner, other authors from Bohemia such as Josef Leopold Václav Dukát or Josef Antonín Plánický also published or intended to publish similar collections. This popularity, however, already heralded the coming preference for retexted operatic arias used, as a rule, as the musical climax of the Mass at the point of offertory, a fashion to break out in full soon afterwards, coinciding with the decline of the original production of this sort.

The arias in this particular recording come from Hymnodia divina, a collection which was published as Brentner´s opus No. 3 in 1718 or 1719 and which was long mistaken for a similarly conceived first collection by the same composer. Notably enough, its contains more texts already set to music before: thus, the offertory Gloria et honore had been published as a choral concerto movement in his collection Offertoria solenniora opus No. 2. Another aria on the text Oderit me totus mundus had again been put out in his above-mentioned first collection. Most of these are arias da capo except the one entitled Domine, non sum dignus with oboe solo, the text of which impressively paraphrases the centurion´s liturgical confession („“Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, ... „, here, however, : „ ... that you should come into my heart ...“). The collection typically ends in a funeral aria Parce mihi, Domine, a musical setting of selected verses from the Old Testament Book of Job, also a part of the Office of the Dead.

In Baroque times, figural music accompanied not only the Mass but, in some cases, also selected parts of the office or liturgy of the hours, mainly vespers. As a rule, psalms and Magnificat were performed to instrumental or figural accompaniment, and it was exactly such sets of compositions that were mostly preserved in the collections, apart from separate psalms set to music. Vespers in this recording are rendered in the form, in which they were found in the Wroclaw church of the Holy Cross where they were scored by the above-mentioned Emilián Trolda. In their time, they were obviously a very popular and widely acclaimed kind of music. Such vespers or their parts in combination with Brentner´s other psalms or with different Dixit Dominus and Magnificat remained preserved at a number of places in Bohemia and also, for example, in Dresden. As often happens in sacred music of the period, some of the preserved sources were seen as anonymous, and, indeed, some of the copies were attributed to other authors – thus, some of the psalms were heard from the choir of St. Vitus Cathedral as music by Francesco Durante, in the town of Osek again as works by Václav Gunther Jacob, at the Knights of the Cross church in Prague as Brentner´s compositions, and in Dresden as music „senza nome dell`Authore“. Since some of the sources are inaccessible, we are hard put to reliably corroborate Brentner´s authorship, the most often mentioned alternative, though judged by the music as such it appears to be very likely, indeed. Despite the use of clarino trumpets in most of the parts, these are mostly compositions of modest extent. In some cases (Beatus vir) only parts of the psalm texts are set to music, sometimes merely one fully composed movement as distinct from the „one verse - one separate item of music“ mode, a customary feature of truly solemn compositions. All the same, the composition does have the desired effect, and its is easy to understand why it was so popular in its day.

Václav Kapsa

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