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Briefly Noted: Chordae Freybergensis

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Te Deum laudamus: Freiberg Cathedral Angel Instruments, Ensemble Freiberger Dom-Music, Chordae Freybergensis, A. Koch

(released on August 12, 2014)
cpo 777928-2 | 55'45"
At the end of the 16th century, a set of thirty historical instruments, or very accurate copies of them, was installed in Freiberg Cathedral, placed in the hands of sculpted golden angels. The group Chordae Freybergensis is part of a research project that made modern copies of these instruments, in an attempt to recreate the sound of a Renaissance instrumental ensemble. Six of these instruments -- four sizes of violin, cornetto, and sackbut, with organ -- are featured on this new recording, doubling six voices of the Ensemble Freiberger Dom-Music, made in Freiberg Cathedral last summer. The music, all of it rarities, is drawn from manuscript sources in the Bibliothek der Freiberger Lateinschule, from around 1600, copied for students and faculty in the Freiberg Latin School, the first secondary school in Saxony devoted to the humanities, to sing and play.

Structured like a Mass, the program is centered on the five movements of the Ordinary by Philippe de Monte (1521-1603), known as the Missa super Mon coeur se recomande, with motets by Monte, Albinius Fabricius (1570-1635), Leonhard Lechner (1553-1606), Rogier Michael (1552/54-1619), and Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder (1543?-1588). Most of the repertory is decidedly Catholic in nature -- including the Latin ordinary and especially Fabritius's setting of O sacrum convivium, a text attributed to Thomas Aquinas for the feast of Corpus Christi -- which is odd since the cathedral is a former collegiate church turned Lutheran. Rogier Michael's bilingual (German-Latin) setting of the Te deum is a fitting tribute to the transition from one tradition to the other. The performances, while not stellar, are attractively engineered.

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