Recording of the Month, MusicWeb International (2021)
Recordings of the Year, MusicWeb International (2021)
The music played at Prague university according to mid-15th-century sources, following the Hussite wars and the institution's renovation. The album provides a wide array of liturgical music, sacred pieces by young clerics, as well as music the university students played for entertainment. It features Gregorian chant, anonymous creations and compositions by Bernard de Cluny, Petrus Wilhelmi de Grudencz and Antonio da Cividale.
Schola Gregoriana Pragensis: Hasan El-Dunia, Ondřej Holub, Jan Kukal, Tomáš Lajtkep, Ondřej Maňour, Michal Medek, Stanislav Předota. Artistic director: David Eben. Corina Marti - clavisimbalum
Contemporary university students would be hard pressed to imagine life without social networking on their smartphones. In the 15th century, the role of social networking was pursued by communal singing, bringing the students together and being part of their everyday life on a variety of occasions. The foundation charter of the Reček College of Prague university (1438) stipulated for the students the duty to perform music every day within the liturgical services. On the other hand, secular music, including instrumental and dance, was prohibited (especially playing resonant instruments, singing in the vernacular languages and ribald songs), but the students constantly bent the rules. The liturgy prescribed for each day of the week served as the basis for the repertoire of the present recording, which, however, also affords scope to the secular music that in all likelihood the students used to play during their leisure time beyond the walls of the college. The unique album of Schola Gregoriana Pragensis and their very special guest, the clavisimbalist Corina Marti (La Morra), is being released along with an extensive study providing a comprehensive depiction of the 15th-century university music life. The fruit of the collaboration between musicians and musicologists from across Europe is a book with a CD, an artefact that will become a natural part of the library of every connoisseur and lover of medieval music.
Listen to the music on the "playlist" of a Prague university student 600 years ago...
“It consists of excellent singers who fully command the art of legato singing. At the same time their diction is such that the texts are always clearly understandable, even in languages one does not understand, such as Czech. The clarity and transparency of sound are further assets of this choir, which is in superb form here… In short, this is a superb disc. Its theme, the selection of music and the performances justify a special recommendation.” MusicWeb International, July 2021
“These are competent performances, full of spiritual fervour, and the singers don’t shy away from using subtle expressive nuances to help the music speak to modern ears. The lush church acoustic adds a bloom to the sound.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2021
“The recording quality is rich and penetrating as, in just over an hour, seven excellent singers guide the listener through ‘the unique shaping of the students’ time in which the college’s founder designated specific topics for individual days of the week’ with chant and polyphony. The character of individual voices shines pleasingly through fine ensemble singing, directed by David Eben and with Corina Marti playing the clavisimbalum, with texts in the vernacular and Latin.” Choir & Organ Magazine, November 2021
“Et dans le plain-chant, la Schola Gregoriana Pragensis excelle: leur maîtrise s’épanouit dans les cantiones comme dans les chants de la messe ou de l’office. Les monodies, enveloppées par la rondeur suave du choeur d’hommes, gardent une expressivité sobre, toujours au service de la clarté du texte… Le clavicymbalum de Corina Marti (La Morra), angélique petit psaltérion à clavier, ponctue le programme d’accompagnements et solos instrumentaux.” Diapason, December 2021
“This disc offers a most fascinating account of the musical world at and around Prague University. The programme does not only contribute to our knowledge of musical history, but also gives some idea about intellectual and cultural life at a university in the late Middle Ages. The singing is of the highest order, and the production is exemplary.” MusicWeb International, December 2021