Rosenmüller: Marienvesper

Knabenchor Hannover, Johann Rosenmüller Ensemble, Barockorchester L’Arco, Jörg Breiding
115:09 (2 CDs)
Rondeau Productions ROP701920

Each of the two CDs which make up this recording feature three large-scale vocal works in the Venetian style by one of the late 17th century’s undoubted masters; Arno Paduch’s booklet note suggests that the conversion to Catholicism of Duke Johann Friedrich von Braunschweig-Lüneburg (the dedicatee of Rosenmüller’s 1667 Sonate da camera) might suggest that at least some of the Latin church music was written for Hanover. The combined forces of that city’s modern boys’ choir, four imported soloists for the upper voice obbligato parts, the Johann Rosenmüller Ensemble, and the Barockorchester L’Arco (here strings with lute, dulcian and organ) produce an absolutely glorious sound throughout. The psalms are framed by plainchant antiphons sung by a Schola (seven men from the choir), who also supply the Ingressus  and the hymn (Ave maris stella). Veronika Winter and Maria Skiba are exemplary sopranos, while Alex Potter and Henning Voss shine as the alto soloists. Where I had expected to find the shift from the intimacy of solo voices to a large choir (25, 17, 9, 12), in fact the effect was rather impressive, and similar anxiety about an imbalance between instruments and choir was dispelled in performance; the recording engineer has clearly placed his microphones perfectly, allowing the whole soundscape to be captured without compromise. This is an impressive achievement, and includes some truly beautiful music – the Lauda Jerusalem  with solo trumpet is especially worthy of note. Many Rosenmüller works remain unrecorded, though, so let us hope that Breiding and co. are not finished yet!

Brian Clark