Recording of the Month, MusicWeb International (2023)
CD of the Week, W kulturalny sposob (2021)
Bohemian songs for mass and prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours from the early 15th-century Prague university milieu. The manuscript contains a Latin hymn translated into Czech, as well as original music to Czech texts.
Tiburtina Ensemble: Ivana Bilej Brouková, Hana Blažíková, Tereza Böhmová, Daniela Čermáková, Anna Chadimová Havlíková, Barbora Kabátková, Kamila Mazalová, Renata Zafková. Artistic director: Barbora Kabátková
When, in 1872, the student Leopold Katz discovered in the attic of the presbytery in the South Bohemian village of Jistebnice an old manuscript of Czech songs, he might not have realised just how enormous its value was. Today, the hymnal, bearing the title "Jistebnický kancionál", is primarily known for containing the Hussite choral anthem Ye Who Are Warriors of God. (The melody has attained worldwide fame due to its inclusion in Smetana's symphonic poems Tábor and Blaník, parts of the cycle My Country.) Yet the most notable aspect of the hand-written hymnbook is that it features songs in Czech for mass and prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours. It would seem that the bold project's aim was to make liturgy accessible to the wide religious community in their own language. The creators evidently above all strove to translate Latin hymns into Czech, but they also wrote tunes of their own. Of a particularly high value is the record of the Easter liturgy that, owing to its detailed instructions, affords us a view of the Hussite form of worship.
A number of unanswered questions and mysteries still surround the Jistebnice manuscript. The present album, made by the internationally esteemed vocal Tiburtina Ensemble, lifts the veil of mystery to a certain degree, with the bright female voices conveying the sheer beauty of the songs. "How wonderful my favourite Latin choral pieces sounded in Old Czech!" Barbora Kabátková says. "I consider the Jistebnice hymnal to be a great discovery, and hope that the listeners will perceive it in the same manner."
Tiburtina Ensemble perform songs from a unique 15th-century Czech manuscript
“In short, it is not only a great album in an outstanding performance (Czech star of early music Hana Blažíková sings in the band). It is an introduction to the old perception of the world on the threshold of changes that shocked contemporary Christianity and Europe. Looking at what is happening in our time, it is hard not to find similarities. The difference is that then the music felt the wind of change. It’s hard to see now. And it is said that the Middle Ages are the dark ages.” W kulturalny sposob, May 2021
“Was für eine Ruhe und Transparenz diese überirdisch schönen, reinen Stimmen des Tiburtina Ensembles hier verströmen: der Klang der böhmischen Pre-Reformation.” SWR2, May 2021
“La troupe tchèque se distingue par la luminosité et la saveur de ses timbres, où brillent les individualités, tant dans les unissons que les incursions solistes.” Crescendo, September 2021
“Als erstes fällt auf, mit welcher blendenden Intonation die Frauen singen, manchmal im Chor, manchmal mit Einzelstimmen. Auch die Plastizität ihres Gesanges lässt keine Wünsche übrig: Es ist schon hörenswert, wie sie die einzelnen Verse dynamisch abfedern, unterscheiden zwischen Hauptteil und Kadenz.” Klassik.com, June 2022
“It is hard to see a better ensemble to take care of these chants than the Tiburtina Ensemble which has made a name for itself with the exploration of little-known repertoire from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, especially from sources in Central Europe… The singing of the Tiburtina Ensemble (and not to forget, its members in solo episodes) is superb. The acoustic is exactly what this music needs. The booklet includes informative liner-notes, and the lyrics in Old Czech and English translations. I can’t think of better reasons to give this release a special recommendation.” MusicWeb International, May 2023