George Frideric Handel / Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
An historically informed performance,
A concert recording from the basilica of the
2-CD-Box, DDD, ca. 133 min.
This recording is part of a cycle of old testament oratorios by G. F. Handel and is one of the many concerts performed at Maulbronn monastery over the past years. The series combines authentically performed baroque oratorios with the optimal acoustics and atmosphere of this unique monastic church. This ideal location demands the transparency of playing and the interpretive unveiling of the rhetoric intimations of the composition, which is especially aided by the historically informed performance. So the music is played only on reconstructed historical instruments tuned to the pitch that was usual in the composer’s day. For the sake of authenticity, the tuning in this performance is therefore the same as that customarily used in Mozart’s times (a = c. 430 Hz).
The idea of writing an arrangement of Handel’s Messiah was not Mozart’s. He was in fact commissioned to do this by Baron Gottfried van Swieten. Van Swieten had founded the "Society of Associates" (Gesellschaft der Associierten) in Vienna, an exclusive circle that organised private performances of oratorios during Lent and at Christmas. Because of the reforms introduced by Emperor Joseph II, church music had suffered from drastic changes to the liturgy that had almost brought about its total demise. For this reason, the emphasis shifted to private performances. The Viennese aristocracy was part of van Swieten’s circle and its members also acted as patrons. For quite some time before he worked on the Messiah, Mozart been part of these concerts he played cembalo under the direction of the court theatre composer, Starzer, who had already arranged Judas Maccabaeus. During this period, Mozart had access to van Swieten’s private library and was able to study scores by Bach and Handel, which he found deeply stimulating for his own creative work. In 1788 Mozart himself took over as director of these private concerts. In that same year he arranged Handel’s Acis and Galatea, then in March 1979 the Messiah, and in the following year, the Ode for St. Cecilia and Alexander’s Feast. The rehearsals for the Messiah took place in van Swieten’s apartments. The oratorio was first performed in Count Johann Esterhazy’s palais on 6th March 1789. The number of instrumentalists involved is not known, and there were supposedly only 12 singers in the choir.
Baron van Swieten, who was a great admirer of baroque music, wanted Mozart to "modernise" the oratorio. This was a perfectly normal demand the original work and its composer still commanded great respect, of course, but this was no obstacle to updating something "old-fashioned" to bring it into line with modern taste. Mozart based his arrangement on the first edition of Handel’s score. From this, two copyists produced a working score. For the English libretto and the wind sections of the original, they substituted blank lines so that Mozart could write his own accompaniment and insert the text written by van Swieten. The latter was, in turn, based on the German translation done by F. G. Klopstock and C. D. Ebeling in 1775.
The biggest change was made to the airs, as they were believed to be the form most in need of "modernisation". Mozart in part changed the harmony structure, made cuts, varied the tempi, transposed the airs or assigned them to other vocal parts. Yet he retained the form of the air with one exception. "If God be for us" (CD II, No. 23) appears in Mozart’s version as a recitative, not as an air. Van Swieten comments: "Your idea of turning the text of the cold air into a recitative is splendid... Anyone who is able to clothe Handel with such solemnity and taste that he pleases the fashion-conscious fops on the one hand, while on the other hand still continuing to show himself superior, is a person who senses Handel’s worth, who understands him, has found the source of his expression and who can and will draw inspiration from it. The mood of this "cold air" obviously had so little appeal for Mozart that he felt this was the one instance where he had to alter the formal structure, which in itself speaks volumes for his sensitivity in dealing with the original.
The choral sections remain almost unchanged. But here, however, Mozart introduces harmony. Woodwinds are added to the horn and trumpet sections and accompany the choral descant parts in unison. The trombones, on the other hand, are given the option of doubling the alto, tenor and base parts and precise stipulations are only made for two of the numbers. Before this version of the Messiah score first appeared in print, Rochlitz made the flowing comments in the music periodical, "Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung": "He has exercised the greatest delicacy by touching nothing that transcends the style of his time ... The choral sections are left as Handel wrote them and are only amplified cautiously now and again by wind instruments."
One other change was made to the choral sections and it had to do with tempo. Mozart intervenes here, usually choosing a slower pace. In addition to slowing the movements down, he also "steals" some pieces from the choir. This applies in particular to certain virtuoso segments in the initial choral sections, which he gives to the soloists. Apart from the explanation that Mozart was doing this to illustrate baroque dynamics, this might also have been done for other reasons. It is quite possible that Mozart had no choir available whom he thought capable of performing these pieces. The airs were also shortened. For example, he cut the middle section of the bass air, "The trumpet shall sound". Of this Rochlitz wrote: "Those [airs], where Handel adhered more strictly to the conventions of his day, have been given a new and unparalleled accompaniment, one that Handel himself would have wanted, but which also incorporates the advances in instruments and taste made since his days; where the airs were too long or became unimportant, like the second part, for example, which was only written for voice and bass, such parts have been cut." Yet in comparison to other contemporary oratorio arrangements, Mozart’s cuts are minimal. They are aimed more at condensing and tightening up what is taking place. As a result, a performance of this arrangement only takes 2 ½ hours, a cut of almost half an hour. Rochlitz is of the opinion that this makes the oratorio "highly enjoyable for any kind of audience."
However, Mozart is not content with changes that are dull or conventional. He puts woodwinds into the airs to better interpret the basic mood. What’s more, he divests the bassoons of their bass function repeatedly. To preserve the musical flow of an air, he provides the singer with instrumental support in cadences instead of giving him or her the freedom to improvise. And over and above having to adhere to the rules imposed by the contemporary conventions of good taste, Mozart also had to take other circumstances into consideration. For example, in his arrangement he cut out the organ there was simply no organ available in the Viennese palais where the private performances were held. Another problem that Mozart had to contend with was the change that had taken place in trumpet playing between the time of Handel’s Messiah and Mozart’s arrangement of it. The break-up of the social order in the towns had led to the demise of the town piper guilds and, in turn, to the decline in the art of playing the clarion. The trumpets in a classical orchestra were not nearly as powerful as their predecessors, so in order to support the sound of the orchestra, Mozart "downgraded" them with regard to both harmony and rhythm. He modified the original passages or assigned them to other instruments such as the horn in the air "The trumpet shall sound" (CD II, No. 20), thus achieving a more virtuoso effect.
Yet the Messiah remains the work of Handel, despite the Mozart arrangement. Mozart did not write a new composition, he used the original as a template and arranged it or to use a present-day idiom, he did a "cover version". In doing so, he achieved a synthesis of baroque counterpoint and classical style, which is why this version of the Messiah definitely offers a remarkable alternative to the "original".
Marlis Petersen - Soprano
After studying at the State University of Music & Performing Arts in Stuttgart as well as under Prof. Sylvia Geszty, Marlis Petersen received awards at the VDMK "Opera-Operetta-Concert" competition in Berlin. In 1993 she won 1st prize in the "International Master Class in Voice" at the Jacques Offenbach Festival. During 1993/94 she was a member of the ensemble at the Städtische Bühnen in Nuremberg, singing coloratura soprano. Besides giving concerts in German-speaking countries, she has made guest appearances at the Berlin, Bremen, Düsseldorf, Hanover, Munich, Frankfurt and Wiesbaden opera houses. Marlis Petersen works extremely closely with Helmuth Rilling and the International Bach Academy in Stuttgart and also performs with them in concerts throughout Europe and the USA. She has also given very successful concerts for RAI Turin and Santa Cecilia in Rome, at the Bregenz Festival, the Opéra Bastille, the Vienna State Opera and at London’s Covent Garden. Her latest successes have included performances in Hamburg, Geneva, Athens and Monte Carlo, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Salzburg Festival.
Born in Graz in 1978, her first training in music (transverse flute) was at the J.J. Fux Conservatory. She took her school-leaving examination in 1966 and started to study voice at the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Graz (KUG), where her supervisor was Annemarie Zeller. She studied ‘Lied and Oratorio’ and ‘Opera’ at the KUG. The 2003 summer semester marked the beginning of her studies with Rosemarie Schmied. In January 2004 Margot Oitzinger passed her final diploma in ‘Lied and Oratorio’ with distinction and was awarded the Ira Malaniuk Prize for the most promising young artist the following month. Master classes in Baroque and Renaissance voice with Jill Feldman and Marius von Alltena followed. She is a member of the ensemble ‘cantus graz’, ‚a piú voci‘ and the ensemble contralti. Performances as a soloist and ensemble singer at festivals such as the Handel Festival in Halle, the Styriarte (Styrian Festival), the ‘steirischer Herbst’, the ‘jeunesse’ and the ‘Bach XXI’. She performs mainly in Austria, Italy, Germany and Switzerland.
Studied voice and church music in Karlsruhe and Düsseldorf and won competitions in Berlin (Federal Competition in Voice) and Milan (Caruso Competition). He attended the Opera Studio in Zurich. He was then engaged by the opera house in Zurich and made his début there. This was followed by engagements at the Hamburg Staatsoper and the ‘Deutsche Oper am Rhein’ in Düsseldorf. Conductors he has worked with include Kent Nagano, Fabio Luisi, Michael Gielen, Stephan Soltesz, Nicolaus Harnoncourt, Leopold Hager, Helmuth Rilling, Philippe Herreweghe, René Jacobs, Sigiswald Kuijken and Yehudi Menuhin. CD recordings of him in "Cosi fan tutte" with S. Kuijken and the "St. Matthew Passion" with Harnoncourt and the "Concentus musicus" are outstanding; indeed, the latter was awarded a Grammy. As an interpreter of the Lied, he has had great success in Vienna and at the Schubertiade festivals in Feldkirch, Schwarzenberg and New York, where he performed works by Schubert and Schumann with pianist Hartmut Höll.
Born in Mikolow (Poland), he began his training in voice in Krakow under Prof. Adam Szybowski. In 1993 he transferred to the University of Music in Dresden. In 2000 he passed the master classes given at the Dresdner University of Music by Prof. Hans-Joachim Beyer and Prof. Rudolf Piernay. Master classes with Brigitte Fassbaender, Peter Schreier, Thomas Quasthoff and Charles Spencer round off his training. His repertoire ranges from historical works to contemporary compositions. He has sung with Helmuth Rilling conducting and given concerts with Steven Stubbs, Eduardo López Banzo and the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble under Thomas Hengelbrock. Marek Rzepka has given guest performances at the Milan Auditorium, the Bologna Festival, the Dresden Music Festival, the Handel Festival in Halle, the Rheingau Music Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and the Schwetzingen Festival. He has appeared in opera productions in Belgium, France, the USA and Australia. Since 2001 he has been teaching voice at the Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy University of Music and Theatre in Leipzig.
The Hanoverian Court Orchestra maintains the tradition of the historic court orchestras and performs with both chamber and symphonic instrumentation. The fact that its members also play in other European Baroque formations, helps forge the sound of the ensemble. The repertoire of the Hanoverian Court Orchestra not only incorporates Baroque music in all its forms, but also Romantic pieces and Classical works, especially Mozart‘s operas and the Romantic genre. The continual involvement with the music of the 17th and 18th century has allowed each of the Court Orchestra’s musicians to become a master of his instrument. From this emerges the expressive and elegant playing that allows the Orchestra to maintain its prominent position. The Hanoverian Court Orchestra has been the orchestra in residence at the Herrenhausen Festival Weeks since 2006.
The Maulbronn Chamber Choir was founded by its director, Jürgen Budday, in 1983 and is one of the top choirs in Germany today. In addition to learning a baroque oratorio, the ensemble compiles a sacred and secular a-cappella programme every year, its focal point being 19th and 20th century literature. First prize at the Baden Württemberg Choir Competition in 1989 and 1997, second prize at the Third German Choir Competition in Stuttgart in 1990, and a victory at the Fifth German Choir Competition in Regensburg in 1998 document the chamber choir‘s extraordinary musical standard. The Maulbronn Chamber Choir has received, among others, invitations to the Ettlingen Palace Festival, the chamber music series of the Dresden Philharmonic, the cloister concerts at the Walkenried convent, the First International Festival of Sacred Music in Rottenburg, and the European Music Festival in Passau. The choir has also made a name for itself internationally. The 1983 debut tour through the USA with concerts in, among others, New York and Indianapolis, and the participation in the Festival of Music in New Harmony, Indiana, as well as concert tours through numerous European countries, Israel, Argentina (1993 and 1997), South Africa, and Namibia (2001) were all greeted with similar enthusiasm by the public and critics alike. The third tour through South America followed in autumn 2003 with concerts in Argentina and Uruguay. The Maulbronn Chamber Choir has in the meantime released 14 CDs.
is director of church music and artistic director of the concert series at the monastery of Maulbronn, of the cantor choir and of the Maulbronn Chamber Choir. He studied music education, church music and musicology at the Academy of Music in Stuttgart and, since 1979, has taught at the Evangelic Theology Seminar in Maulbronn. For his teaching and artistic activity, he has received many awards, including the Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande (German Cross of Merit) and the Bruno-Frey Prize from the State Academy, Ochsenhausen. Since 2002, Jürgen Budday is President of the Choir Advisory Committee at the German Music Council. Several concert recordings have been made under his artistic direction. They have often received international recognition and high praise from critics. These have included the Handel oratorios Samson, Judas Maccabaeus, Saul, Solomon and Belshazzar with Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, Nancy Argenta and Stephen Varcoe.
Maulbronn Chamber Choir
Soprano ~ Stefanie Bucher, Katharina Eberhardt, Teresa Frick, Ute Gerteis,
Alto ~ Carmen Andruschkewitsch, Marianne Kodweiß, Helen Duhm, Beata Fechau,
Tenor ~ Johannes Budday, Sebastian Fuierer, Andreas Gerteis,
Bass ~ Ingo Andruschkewitsch, Karl Bihlmaier, Jo Dohse, Immanuel Finckh,
Hanoverian Court Orchestra
Concert Master ~ Marlene Goede-Uter
Oratorios by G. F. Handel
George Frideric Handel · Jephtha
George Frideric Handel · Samson
George Frideric Handel · Judas Maccabaeus
George Frideric Handel · Saul
George Frideric Handel · Solomon
George Frideric Handel · Belshazzar
George Frideric Handel · Messiah
Publishing culture in its authentic form entails for us capturing and recording for posterity outstanding performances and concerts. The performers, audience, opus and room enter into an intimate dialogue that in its form and expression, its atmosphere, is unique and unrepeatable. It is our aim, the philosophy of our house, to enable the listener to acutely experience every facet of this symbiosis, the intensity of the performance. The results are unparalleled interpretations of musical and literary works, simply - audiophile snapshots of permanent value.
The concerts in Maulbronn monastery, which we document with this edition, supply, in many ways, the ideal conditions for our aspirations. It is, above all, the atmosphere of the romantic, candle-lit arches, the magic of the monastery in its unadulterated sublime presence and tranquillity that impresses itself upon the performers and audience of these concerts. Renowned soloists and ensembles from the international arena repeatedly welcome the opportunity to appear here - enjoying the unparalleled acoustic and architectural beauty of this World Heritage Site (monastery church, cloister gardens, lay refectory, etc.), providing exquisite performances of secular and sacred music.
Under the patronage of the Evangelical Seminar, the Maulbronn Monastery Cloister Concerts were instigated in 1968 with an abundance of musical enthusiasm and voluntary leadership. Within the hallowed walls of the classical grammar and boarding school, existent for more than 450 years, some of society's great thinkers, poets and humanists, such as Kepler, Hölderlin, Herwegh and Hesse received their first impressions. The youthful elan, the constructive participation of the pupils, continuing the tradition of their great predecessors, constructs an enlightened climate in which artistic ambitions can especially thrive. Twenty-five concerts take place between May and September. Their success can be largely attributed to the many voluntary helpers from near and far.
Flourishing culture in a living monument, created for the delight of the live audience and, last but not least, you the listener, are the ideals we document with this series - directly in digital stereo.
Andreas Otto Grimminger & Josef-Stefan Kindler
8. Arie mit Chor