Tuesday 13 May 2014

Piffarisimo - Instrumental music at the Council of Constance

Piffarissimo: CC72631
Piffarissimo - Instrumental music at the Council of Constance: Capella de la Torre: Challenge Classics
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on May 09 2014
Star rating: 4.0

Imaginative reconstruction of the music for pipes, trumpets and drums from 15th century

The Council of Constance was huge, both in concept and in terms of size. The rulers of Western Christendom came together between 1414 and 1418 to solve the central problem of the age, the Papal Schism. There were three competing popes and the intention of the council was to revert to one. And around 50,000 people came to Constance to help them. On this disc from Channel Classics the period instrument ensemble Capella de la Torre, director Katharina Bauml, reconstructs some of the instrumental music associated with the council, centred on an ensemble of pipes and drums.

The alta capella, an ensemble of shawm, alto bombard and slide trumpet/trombone was an important contributor to medieval festive ensembles. So much so that individual rulers brought their own ensembles to Constance, so that we can imagine groups competing with each other. And national styles of playing were important too. We know that Duke Friedrich IV of Austria brought pipers, trumpeters and sackbut players who caused a sensation. And British trombone players and pipers played polyphonic music, with three trombones playing together in three parts just as is normally sung.

Of course most of this music was not written down, and we certainly do not have much in the way of fully scored examples, but there are a few surviving manuscripts and a reasonable amount seems to be known about the way that ensembles improvised.

So what we have here is the ensemble of Birgit Bahr (shawms), Hildegard Wippermann (alto shawm), Falko Munkwitz (sackbut and slide trumpet), Keal Couper (sackbut, slide trumpet and cowhorn), Johannes Vogt (lute), Peter A. Bauer (percussion) and Katharina Bauml (shawms and direction) performing a programme in which they explore the music of the various different nationalities present at the council.

After the Entry of the Musicians and invocation to the Holy Ghost, which includes motets by Philippe de Vitry and Guillaume Dufay, the music is divided into national groups so that we get La grande gloire (the French), Igenosi Italiani, The Brave British and Die durstigen Deutschen with finally what they call  a Jam session - Und prusunoten as prusuner on pffiffotend all pfifer.

The result is a highly imaginative disc which wears its learning lightly and can be listened simply as a programme of attractive renaissance music, or in the context of the historical background. The CD booklet includes an article which gives full background, along with quotations from contemporary writers describing the music at the time. There are various types of music on the disc, as music was used in dances, processions and liturgically. The group has arranged these into satisfying sequences which make for satisfying listening Performances are convincing and involving, with some lovely mellow shawm playing. Highly recommended.

Piffarissimo - Instrumental music at the Council of Constance

Entry of the Musicians and Invocation to the Holy Ghost
Guglielmo Ebreo (1420 - 1484) / Improvisation - Piva Amoroso [2.10]
Philippe de Vitry (1291 - 1361)  - Vos qui admiramini / Gratissima virginis species [3.12]
Guillaume Dufay (1397 - 1474) - Veni creator spiritus [1.38]

La grande gloire
Anonymous (14th century) - Tuba Gallicalis [1.33]
Anonymous (14th century) - Molendinum de Paris 1 [1.55]
Anonymous (15th century) -  Basse Dance M'Amour [2.48]
Anonymous (14th century) - Virgo dulcis / Tuba Heinrici de libero castro [3.16]
Anonymous (14th century) - Molendum de Paris 2 [2.52]
Guillaume Dufay (1397 - 1474) - Gloria ad modum tubae [2.37]

Ingegnosi Italiani

Guglielmo Ebreo (1420 - 1484) / Improvisation - Ballo "Petit Vriens" [2.37]
Anonymous (ca. 1400) - Auxce bon youre delabonestrem [3.33]
Domenico da Piacenza (ca. 1420 - 1476) - La Gelosia [1.57]
Guglielmo Ebreo (1420 - 1484) / Improvisation - Leoncello [3.09]

The Brave British
 Anonymous (15th century) - Deo gracias Anglia / The Agincourt Carol [3.29]
Anonymous (15th century) - Ie have so longe keep shepe [1.56]
Anonymous (15th century) - St Thomas honour we [4.56]

Die durstigen Deutschen
Oswald von Wolkenstein (1377 - 1445) - Ave mater o Maria [1.42]
Oswald von Wolkenstein (1377 - 1445) - Her wiert uns durstet also ser [1.59]

Jam session: Und prusnoten all prusuner und pfiffotend all pfifer
Anonymous (15th century) - Zappay / Lo Campo [1.30]
Gilles Binchois (1400 - 1460) - Je me ceommande [1.48]
John Bedingham (1400 - 1455) - Mon seul plaisir [3.12]
Antonio Cornazano (1430 -1485) / Improvisation - Ballo figlia Guillemin [4.04]
Anonymous (15th century) - La vid de Culin [3.51]

Capella de la Torre
Birgit Bahr (shawms)
Hildegard  Wippermann (alto shawm)
Falko Munkwitz (sackbut, slide trumpet)
Keal Couper (sackbut, slide trumpet, cowhorn)
Johannes Vogt (lute)
Peter A. Bauer (percussion)
Katharina Bauml (shawns and direction)
 Recorded 15-18 July 2013, Hans-Rosbaud Studio, SWR Baden-Baden


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