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Upside Down or Ba©chanalistica 
Ritornello, Michael Pospíšil


F10145   [8595017414527]   released 6/2006

play all Hlavou dolů - Ritornello 66:30
O Magnifice Domine 4:12
Eleemosynam Studioso date 2:25
čtení Veselý student 1:06
Nos sumus studiosi 2:09
Eja jucunda gens 2:32
Interludium II 0:56
Laeta fronte socii 2:00
InterDudium I 1:03
Bachu Vinnej! 6:15
čtení Ctitel bakchův po půstu 1:06
Pasch revixit floridum, sa sa! 2:24
čtení Jsou svátky jídla a pití 0:50
Sunt festa bacchanalia 1:25
čtení Máme svátky hojnosti 0:52
Festa Bacchanalia 2:58
Vinum du Edler Safft 3:10
Ego die toto 4:22
Lucille datam Coelo 3:08
Factus quodam dies festus 4:59
Ty Služebníku Bachora 0:49
Huj saltemus! 2:44
Hop hop hop! 2:38
Sa sa sa! 1:35
čtení Huj haj schuri muri bluncus 2:13
Cassato 2:51
Interludium III 1:29
Strašná noc se blíží 4:03

RITORNELLO, directed by Michael Pospisil

Jan Mikusek – vocal and voice, tympanon, xylophone, drum, tambourine
Vlado Pechacek – vocal and voice, Baroque violin, drum
Martin Kaplan – Baroque violin, viola da braccio, vocal
Tomas Najbrt – lute, Baroque guitar, theorbo, bagpipe, hurdy-gurdy, madman-bells, vocal
Jan Basista Novotny – double-bass & bassino, flauto & flautino, vocal
Michael Pospisil – vocal and voice, dulcian, virginal, organ positive, bagpipe, jews-harp, tambourine, madman-bells, sheet-music

1. Bach-Analistica? Provocation.
What one earth do you mean, ”Bachanalistica”? No, don’t worry, this isn’t about some cheap vulgar approach to marketing the great Johann Sebastian (although he certainly had a great appetite for food!), or some trendy display of musicological expertise, or a hygienist’s analysis of the drinkability of water from the stream (der Bach = stream in German). Bacchanalia, in the sense of wild and opulent revels took their name from Bacchus, “the patron of feasting and drinking” – yes, when wine flowed in the streams! We might find a certain etymological association with another German word, der Bauch = the belly, which is related to our Czech word “bachor” meaning one of the stomachs of the cow. Bacchanti (in Latin bacchantes, from bacchor, bacchari = to celebrate Bacchanialia, shrovetide, to rejoice, behave crazily, without sense) and the related vaganti (from the Latin vagantes, derived from vagor, vagari = to roam, wander, loiter, lose one´s way) were then people – mostly students, who wandered from university to university, town to town, begging, seducing and enjoying food and drink. In Czech they were charmingly called “mendíci” (from the Latin mendicare = to beg). From the Middle Ages the vagabond pupils and students were an element akin to the homeless of today. But...
Our “Ba(c)chanalistica” is actually a carefree entertainment, a parody of the ancient “Bacchanalia” celebrated each year in Ancient Rome, a game with associations. It also represents a kind of “safety valve” for a society weary of the (often somewhat forced) asceticism of the everyday. Gladiatorial games, bullfights, and the rowdy riots of football fans tend to be bloody. Can you really call it feasting? And what about having fun playing computer games? Ineffective ultimately, because everything is just pretend and sometimes some more vulnerable or more aggressive individual fails to comprehend the boundary between game and reality and starts enacting his virtual visions “live” and bloodily, and stops pretending.... Perhaps some as it were non-cruel, sanitised Bacchanalistica ought to be ordained and directed by the state. Alas, those “day-to-day”unending and distasteful “Bacchanalia“, or we might even say “canaillerie”, whose remnants we find everyday in railway stations, for example, testify instead to a sad convergence of demand (the grief of clients) and demand (the sale of hard spirits providing the state with an income). It tells us next to nothing about the Carnival, the opulent revels of Baroque Christian ethics...?

2. Enjoying the Fruit, or the Moral Right of the Christian at Shrovetide.
What ? Godforsaken Carnival Shrovetide? The Baroque preachers trounced it all: Food and Drink, Dancing and Capering, Music, Theatre and Raillery, the five Senses, Love-making... But would God really reject all this? He who “incarnatus est” – was embodied, even “made flesh”? The purpose of “Carni-vale”, Carnival = “Flesh Farewell”, is more the Purification of the Soul from Passion before the Purification of the Body by Fasting... I think, I believe, I hope and trust that it does not or should not be some real “Adoration of the God of the Belly”, but a Journey to the Roots of our Being, which – whether we like it or not – anyway always ends at the 4th plea of the Paternoster, “Give us this day our daily bread...” The famous preacher of our Time P. Georgius Reinsberg († 6.1.2004) recommended that “…when in the midst of Prayer you are distracted by some thought (for example that the Candles smell of Candy, then simply incorporate it in your Prayer, give thanks for it! …“ We ought not then to hide and displace our Desires into our Subconscious, but should learn to live with them and come to terms with them. After all (whether we have an inkling of it or not) what ought our Life to be if not a continuous Prayer? And that includes at Shrovetide too! The same Monsignor said, “Sleep well, eat well and shit well, these are the basic Preconditions for a healthy spiritual Life”! There is nothing new under the Sun, for the Jesuit Jeremias Drechsel in his Book ZODYACUS CHRISTIANUS = “A Christian Zodiac” (originally published in Prague as “Zvěrokruh” 1638, 1674) wrote: „The Lute player tunes his instrument according to the Measure of Music so long as he needs / for one String graciously to accord with another...” He does not want us to tear the Strings from the Lute, but advises us to tune the instrument, harmonise the Strings…
God certainly doesn’t wish anyone to go Hungry, and “Redistribution” is simply up to us. And asceticism is purely and simply a Gift... To be Ungrateful and not to feel the right Enjoyment of Food and Drink, especially in the Act, means to spurn the Gift of the Body, and the Gift of Life. Not for nothing is the Czech word for belly, “Břicho”, related to the word “Život” meaning “Life”. I know very well what Hunger is; I cannot eat and drink much of what I celebrate here, but it doesn’t matter. I believe that even without Drops of Wine (and Opiates in general), Music has the power to cheer and exhilarate Us Men, just more cheaply and leaving us with our Self-Control, as well. So, it’s just a “Boys’ Night Out” then? It seems that as Adam was moulded out of the Clay of the Earth while Eve, like a “Divinely cloned Bone” taken out of Adam’s body (although close to the Heart!), so the sensual-ethical “Space assigned to Women” in a culture only just vanishing, has been no more than a “Little Chamber” inside the great World of Men... But for us men, Shrovetide has remained an invitation to a primordial World without Limits. The Boundary under the diaphragm is the Capacity of our Entrails. And it is the volume of our own Belly, meaning that “which we can take with us on the Journey”, without a mass of decaying Supplies, that can be the Rule for the Non-Gluttony of the Body. The simple socialist Division into wicked fat Rich men and nice thin Poor men will not help us. As an Exemplum let me offer the story of Lord Jan of Peytersberg, whose cantankerous Wife in her anger (that her Husband, Lord and Master had come in to Lunch late) choked herself on a Dumpling... This Nobleman from Teplice nad Metují then had a Church built, with three hermitages – one for himself, one for his Chamberlain and one for another man who joined them. In a small Garden behind the Church they grew everything necessary for the Belly...
Bacchanalistica, Songs for Drinking and Feasting are not then merely “seasonal” and do not belong only to Shrovetide. They accompanied all the “Church Feasts” (Christmas, Easter, All Souls),and the “Annual Convivia” (Banquets and get-togethers) of the various clerical, Marian, church choir and other Brotherhoods and guilds. Thus for example the Musicians celebrated on the Feast of their Patroness Saint Cecilia on the 22nd of November, so actually starting the Shrovetide which in Catholic countries included Advent and Christmas. Some Shrovetide Songs or even Cantatas take their names from Divine Services: “Vesperae Bacchanales”, “Profane Litany”, “Female Psalter” and so forth. Monks, Priests, Masters and Students composed them, wrote them down and performed them. There is no need to fear or be squeamish about such “Forms”. None of the authors was making a joke at the expense of the Lord God, and they were only making fun of themselves and offering this Path to joyful Penance to us as well. Only a person who takes himself too seriously could consider these playful offerings to be Tasteless. Laughter, so purifying and liberating, can languish and there can be a risk of “Spiritual gluttony”. Is it possible that precisely by offering their Pupils wild Songs, the “Half-Saints”, the Witnesses of Drunken Accidents, provided them with what we call “lightning conductors?” Who in fact is the Author of these ostentatiously rampant songs, texts? Hidden Under the Carnival “Larva” (= Mask) and in the Anonymity of the Centuries, they seem like the greatest Debauchees, but wait a minute! All this is allowed you by the Mask: just as a Preacher and Judge with a Beret, a Confessor with a surplice, or an actor with a Costume takes on a new Role far from his actual Role in life, so the Shrovetide reveller in the “Incognito” of Mask can break Taboos, and so, too, the Poet and Musician has a Claim to his own Freedom. Which is why in this Text I take the Liberty of treating Capitals at the Edges of Words just as I please. And if I sometimes go back to small Letters, I’m juxtaposing god with God.

3. A Little about the Authors – and a Little about the Sources
Who actually created this Bacchanalistica? And who sang them? Who wrote them down? And who adapted them? What sort of People were they? At a first glance at the texts you might think it was some seasoned Libertine, Drunkard, Rake, Glutton... But the reality is otherwise: anyone who wrote these witty texts and melodies (or fake clumsy ones like in No. 19), must have had the character and as it were “super-structure” and “extra reserves” of a clown. Just as a jester-artist must “secretly” know much more than he shows, simply to be able to surprise us, so the song-writer-musician must have studied a great deal to be able as it were “casually” to flash a little libertinism. Clever stylisation could bring the author close to people that he would then save from the clutches of vice like a missionary. The sermons against Shrovetide and the extravagant Songs were actually produced by the same people – like computer viruses and anti-viruses today! In fact neither Faith not Anti-Faith exists. There is only faith (in Czech “virus” and “faith” are similar words), or at the most Faith in Non-Faith... The moral control of Shrovetide and the Right of the Christian consists in “directing” and “controlling” the outburst... P. Matěj Václav Šteyer S.J. (*13.2.1630, †7.9.1692), a native of Prague, priest, compiler, translator, missionary. In the 1660s he invested a large part of his family property in establishing the foundation “The Inheritance of St. Wenceslas”, dedicated to the cheap printing, binding and dissemination of good literature at an accessible price or even free among poor people. It was only thanks to this foundation that some of the works of the Protestant exile Comenius actually came out in the same century printed at the Jesuit Clementinum press. P. Christian Hirschmentzel, Ord. Cist. (1638-1703) studied in Prague, and then worked in Velehrad as a priest. He humorously called himself “Orpheus in Sylvis”, Orpheus in the Woods. Hirschmentzel was probably a graphomaniac – he collected and copied all kinds of articles, texts and songs. His impressive set of fifty manuscript books is today kept in the Scientific Library in Olomouc. Some of the pieces that he wrote around 1695 later came out under the name Pál Esterházy... P. Georg Evermond Košetický, Ord. Praem. (1630 – 1700), a priest in the Prague Premonstratension Monastery at Strahov also wrote down various decrees, lists of people, songs, plays, poems, parts and obituaries in a a large several-volume convolutus Quodlibetica. The only specifically named, recorded and dated author of the music included our CD is identified under the second, three-part variant of the song about Good Wine No 16 – we have used it as a Ritornello), and that is the Strahov organist P. Ludvík Skurba (*1645 Dobřany, †4.11.1718 Prague). He composed the music on the 12th of February 1680. Willibald Gumpenberger S.J. (*7.7.1716 Ingolstadt, †25.1.1773 Chomutov), a layman, was in Brno in the years 1741-47, then went to America as a missionary and returned to Bohemia after 1768. Count František Antonín Sporck (*9.3.1662, †1738), a generous patron on the one hand and a cantankerous stickler for detail on the other. It was with his funding that what was known as the “Bon-Reposká Knížka” – “Bon-Repos Book“, came out twice in Czech in Prague in 1720 and 1721, including the cycle of songs, “The Dance of Death”. No author is signed under the texts of these melodies, which often served for sacred songs and also for arrangements of the count’s attacks on his enemies, but it may have been the steward and perhaps also “court musician”,Tobiáš Josef Antonín Seeman (Zeman, *1673, †6.1.1726)?
The concentrated fire of the Baroque preachers against Gluttony and Drunkenness is perhaps justified. All are at one in claiming that the “Shrovetide revellers” are crucifying Christ again and again by their behaviour. They give various Exempla, but above all refer to carelessness in handling various “fires”. The final warning in the sermons was often itself in song form: “... And yet take care, lest you harm yourself or another!”
We would like to offer a “safety-valve” of this kind in our recording and songbook in the song You dear Listener-Music-Maker. The song belongs to the Feasts, so eat and give thanks, chew well your morsels and know well what and why you eat, generously divide the gifts and be grateful for your daily bread. “Rolled up” Time has concentrated the linear “amplitudes” of the Christian year into a ball and offers a vivid menu, and hunger too.

4. Our Theatre of Shrovetide
Our songs are actually a kind of “Bohemian Baroque Carmina Burana“, and so we present them in the form of a ribald evening, a Convivium. As an Entrée we have entrusted two songs to what seem to be beggar students, but the third song says that it is all just a “Theatre”. Songs 4-8 are still relatively soberly merry, and the “Profane Litany” (no.9.) is in what even to us remains the relatively open form of pleas for things important and for complete follies. In subsequent songs (11-15) we may be wandering as far as the Balkans. The 16th macaronic German-Latin song involves two tunes, because “Ego die toto” and “Saxon Dance” (Saltus Saxonicus, No.17.) are strikingly similar, and are therefore made to overlap...The sophisticated aria (No.18.), where penance is put off to tomorrow is from Brno, while in contrast the “Medieval” Drinking-Fighting (No.19.) is refined neither in text or melody. The Šporkian “Drunkard” (No.20) was certainly popular! “Huj saltemus!” (No.21.) challenges us to jump higher in higher in pitch and in space – our stuntman Tomáš Najbrt usually ends up on the table. We are already projecting a certain weariness into Song No. 22: Hop hop hop! The drowsiness in Sa sa sa! (No.23) is logical .. Rambling and slurring and unsteadiness has evidently affected the scribe in “Huj haj, schuri muri” (24.). He didn’t finish writing down this song in 1680, and perhaps fell asleep in the middle of a line...? A serenade under the window (Cassato, No.25) is the first end of our Theatrum Bachi. The second end is the “noble” Orpheae Interludium III. (26) and the charming goodnight song (27), here devoted to an incipient hangover.
Whooping, singing, jumping, dancing and revelling is hard to get across just by sound, in a recording, and we hope that you, dear Listener, can supply what is lacking with your imagination. To help you we are offering you a small songbook of the recorded pieces but we assure you that it is just a rough guide for “how to go further”. In their time the songs were already living modifications and then immediately recast again. Drunkards‘ Latin is international, but still the Latin texts may be a certain barrier. We have therefore decided to translate at least some of the texts in a way that allows you to sing them. The poetic recasting or sometimes just paraphrase of the original texts (excepting No. 9, 16, 20 and 27) is intended, dear Listener, to give you a sense of the always creative and never closed process that from the beginning accompanied the “frivolous” repertoire of drinking songs. The texts and melodies were very quickly adapted “on the spot” and we should like to inspire you to do the same, for example in versifying. The song “Monachus Jovialis” is an exception. It is either medieval vagantes poetry, attacking the merry life of monks and parodying their bad Latin, or more likely an early modern pastiche of the same. The fiery 66 verses can be summed up in the slogan, “Booze-up-Fists-Up-Booze-up”...*)
In the other songs the Czech translations have been kindly provided by our “Poet Laureate” PhDr. Martin Svatoš, an eminent expert on the word and a practical joker in one person (like his predecessors the authors of the songs), who has bravely shown the direction in which you too can set off, versify, go crazy, and dream!
What about our approach to the music? Authentic? Yes, indeed. “Authentic” means original, so belonging to one moment. Today we are living through a succession of our own moments and have just borrowed old songs and dances to suit them. Routine attention to period style on the one hand, and the idea of the moment on the other hand, mean that we are as authentic as can be. Period instruments, tuning, technique of performance and song, all that may appear in an inexhaustible quantity of “authenticities” set with a clear conscience alongside each other. Every day, and every moment you can listen to a different variant and it is your sacred right to do so. Music is fleeting... Vivat Bacchanalistica!


Further recordings by Michael Pospíšil and his Ritornello ensemble:

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