Bosch Requiem 2014
BR 74601 - 0608917460124
Vale of tears, sadness and comfort. The age-old commemoration of the dead around All Souls’ Day (2 November) is an exercise in humility, an appeal for eternal peace and a yearning for perpetual light. The late medieval painter Jheronimus Bosch has been commemorated around this date since 2010 in an annual concert in the Sint-Janskathedraal in ’s-Hertogenbosch. The fifth edition of Bosch Requiem featured funeral music by the Lutheran composers Buxtehude and Bach and a Requiem Mass by the Roman Catholic Heinrich Biber. The DVD is a live recording of this monumental concert, which took place on Friday 7 November 2014.
The motet Unser Leben ist ein Schatten was composed by Johann Bach of Erfurt, a great-uncle of Johann Sebastian Bach, or by Johann Michael Bach. Notable in this opening motet are the patches of fog, as it were, with text repetition, sung ‘from afar’ by an echo choir. They seem to confirm the transition – from the vale of tears at parting, sadness at death and comfort through faith – to a new beginning in the life hereafter.
Johann Sebastian Bach probably wrote his funeral motet Komm, Jesu, komm in 1731/32. The poetry of Paul Thymich inspired the composer so profoundly that – in the words of Philipp Spitta – “the picture which it presents of fervent longing for death is as majestic as it is deeply moving”.
The composer and organ virtuoso Dietrich Buxtehude drew Johann Sebastian Bach to Lübeck in 1705. Buxtehude was successful as a composer of opulent church music that was performed at public Abendmusiken. In his cantata Jesu, meines Lebens Leben the deeply religious Buxtehude rejoices in a rock-like belief in a new life. The text refers to Christ as the bridegroom; he bears the crown of thorns in order that his beloved, humankind, may bear the crown of honour. A short instrumental introduction is followed by a passacaglia. The vocal parts move in the pulse of the repeated (ostinato) bass, and the loved one sings to the bridegroom and offers him a thousand thanks.
The Bohemian-born composer and violinist Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber worked for much of his life in Salzburg. Such was his merit in providing church music for the wonderful Salzburg Dom that he was elevated to the nobility,
as is reflected in the noble addition to his name: ‘von Bibern’. The Requiem in F minor was written after 1692, though the exact date remains unknown. In accordance with choral traditions of the time, the singers are arranged in a soloists’ choir and a ripieno (or full) choir. The strings have independent parts while the trombones play ‘colla parte’, doubling the voices. The sombre and melancholic key of F minor characterises the mood of deep dejection and mourning at the death of a loved one. But grief is accompanied by an intense supplication for hope and forgiveness of sin.
The programme is performed by the Netherlands Bach Society conducted by Jos van Veldhoven. The soloists are Lauren Armishaw (soprano), Marjon Strijk (soprano), Barnabás Hegyi (countertenor), Robert Buckland (tenor) and Jelle Draijer (bass).
On the occasion of Bosch Requiem, Bas Heijne wrote an essay which he read out during the concert in the cathedral. Heijne has published a number of novels, stories and essays; he is a journalist and columnist with the Dutch national daily NRC Handelsblad.
Through the ages, bells and carillons have rung out over the country to summon the people, to drive out evil spirits and to share sorrow. In the curtain raiser the town’s carillonneur Joost van Balkom plays the historic bells in the cathedral tower. The stichting Jheronimus Bosch 500 commissioned the very young composer Matthias As (b. 1995) to write a new work for the carillon entitled Drieluik voor Jheronimus Bosch. In his choice of key and themes
the composer recalls the music of Heinrich Biber. Matthias As comes from Woerden; he took composition lessons with Calliope Tsoupaki and now studies music theory and bassoon at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague.
After the carillon recital Jamie de Goei played German Baroque organ music on the monumental cathedral organ (1622). A short impression of this curtain raiser forms the introduction to the DVD.
1Unser Leben ist ein Schatten
2Komm, Jesu, komm
3Jesu, meines Lebens Leben
4Requiem: I Introitus
5Requiem: II Kyrie
6Requiem: III Sequentia
7Requiem: IV Offertorium
8Requiem: V Sanctus
9Requiem: VI Agnus Dei