Classical CD Reviews

“The Ottomans at the Gates of Vienna in 1683” = JOHANN KASPAR KERLL: Mass; Sonata; Ama cor meum; Triumphate sidera; Passacaglia; Tota pulchra es Maria; Canzona; Admiramini fidelis; Angelorum esca – Rosenmuller Ens./ Arno Paduch – Christophorus

An almost unknown composer who fits into history in interesting ways.

Published on October 16, 2013

“The Ottomans at the Gates of Vienna in 1683” = JOHANN KASPAR KERLL: Mass; Sonata; Ama cor meum; Triumphate sidera; Passacaglia; Tota pulchra es Maria; Canzona; Admiramini fidelis; Angelorum esca – Rosenmuller Ens./ Arno Paduch – Christophorus

“The Ottomans at the Gates of Vienna in 1683” = JOHANN KASPAR KERLL: Mass as consolation amid lament over the siege of Vienna; Sonata; Ama cor meum; Triumphate sidera; Passacaglia; Tota pulchra es Maria; Canzona; Admiramini fidelis; Angelorum esca – Johann Rosenmuller Ens./ Arno Paduch – Christophorus CHR 77358, 75:42 ***1/2:

Kerll (1627-93) was by no means an unimportant composer during his day. Early recognized as a supreme organist (his father was an organist and organ builder) his talent won him the position of organist at the court of Archbishop Leopold William in Vienna, then the head of Music in the Munich Hofkapelle, and finally back to Vienna later in life where he experienced the two most devastating incidents in his life: the death of his wife while he was visiting Prague with the imperial court, and the 1683 siege of Vienna by the Turks. He died on a late-in-life return to Munich.

His music had a lasting influence even though much of it is lost, though there remain innumerable manuscripts all over Europe, testifying to its one-time prevalence. The Mass is an extremely chromatic piece, a darkened tone reflecting the horrors of war and the fears of the Viennese population at the time. The other motets and incidental pieces recorded here bear an undeniable Protestant flavor, the religion of his ancestors until he converted to Catholicism on his initial trip for work and studies in Vienna. The aroma of his work is very much that of late Renaissance/ early Baroque, with influences of Carissimi and Frescobaldi though it could be said that he influenced others more profoundly than he absorbed himself, with Handel and Bach counted among them.

The performances here are very good, despite the too-common use of a counter-tenor in the vocal pieces, and the mix is a nice blend of different styles and genres. Christophorus has done a fine job of bringing to light a composer whose name is unknown yet still remains present in the music of many that came after him. The sound from the church of St. Osdag in Mandelsloh is very accommodating and warm, though the recording dates back to 2001, just re-released.

—Steven Ritter




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