Geistliche Musik der Wiener Hofkapelle Kaiser Maximilian I.
Clemencic Consort · Choralschola der Wiener Hofburgkapelle
Knaben der Chorschule der Wiener Sängerknaben


René Clemencic

René Clemencic is a composer, conductor, flute and clavichord virtuoso, harpsichordist and organist, director and founder of a world-famous early music consort (the Clemencic Consort), musicologist and writer, trained philosopher as well as a collector of emblematic books and sculptures.

Born in Vienna on 27th February 1928, he is a true child of the Danube metropolis. His ancestors hailed from Istria, Slovenia, Moravia, Poland, etc. The founder of the study of Germanistics, Karl Lachmann, is among his direct ancestors on his mother's side. At home he always spoke Italian with his father, a notary, and German with his mother. Rene Clemencic studied philosophy and musicology at the Sorbonne in Paris, the Collège de France and the University of Vienna, where he obtained his doctorate with the dissertation "Being and Consciousness in Louis Lavalle". At the same time he was studying music — recorder and harpsichord in Vienna, Holland and Berlin, musical form with Erwin Ratz, theory with Schoenberg's friend and student Josef Polnauer and J. M. Hauer's twelve-note theory with Johannes Schwieger.

Since 1957 René Clemencic has appeared internationally as recorder player and director of his own ensemble. Since 1966 he has been in charge of the "Musica Antiqua" concert series at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna.

Well over 100 records and CDs have appeared with him as soloist and as conductor of the Clemencic Consort and other ensembles or orchestras. He has given concerts in every continent and received numerous prizes such as the Edison Award, Grand Prix du Disque, Diapason d'Or, Prix Cecilia and many others. In 1989 he was awarded the Gold Medal of Honour of the City of Vienna, in 1996 the personal title of Professor, in 1977 the Anima Mundi Prize of the Venice Biennale d'Arte Sacra as well as the City of Vienna Prize.
n his compositions Clemencic is concerned in the first instance with the symbolism of sound, not primarily with aesthetics. "I try to introduce into my works sound and tonal complexes as acoustic emblems and values representing cosmic structures. Sound and tonal gestures should work as such in their original magic. I am not so concerned with the production of an opus, an artefact in the usual sense, but rather with the unveiling of certain hidden semantics in what is audibly perceived."

René Clemencic's compositional career began with the first performance of his work Maraviglia III at the Alpbach Forum. Performances of his works followed in, among other places, London, Nancy, at the Festival de Wallonie, the Evreux Festival, the Breslau Festival of Avant-Garde Music, the Adelaide Festival, at Oberlin College in the USA, at the Leningrad Festival of Contemporary Music, at La Scala, Milan, the Menuhin Academy at Blonay, in Salzburg, Palermo and at the Carinthian Summer.

His oratorio Kabbala, with a Hebrew text, received its first performance in 1992 in the festival in Cividale del Friuli. The Austrian premiere in 1994 in the Vienna Odeon in the course of the Week of Jewish Culture was greeted with a storm of applause, as was the British premiere in 1996. The Vienna "Klang-bogen" of 1993 included a successful staging of the ballet-pantomime Drachenkampf (Fight with the Dragon). The 1996 premiere of Apokalypsis, (a Wiener Musikverein commission), in the Great Hall of the Vienna Musikverein was lauded to the skies by the critics. The 1998 premiere of the piano trio Jeruschalajim in the "Hörgänge" Festival was greeted by, among others, the Viennese Altenberg Trio as "a valuable enrichment of the piano trio literature". In 1999, once more in the "Hörgänge" Festival the premiere took place of the oratorio Reise nach Ninive (Journey to Niniveh). In May 2000 the Concerto for Strings had its first performances in Caserta and Naples. The premiere of his Stabat Mater took place in Todi (Umbria) at the end of July 2001. He is presently working on an opera Daniel, in Hebrew and Aramaic, based on the Old Testament Book of Daniel.

Clemencic Consort

The Clemencic Consort, directed by René Clemencic, is an Early Music ensemble with an international membership, appearing in variable formats depending on the repertoire. Singers and instrumentalists from the whole world have taken up the task of interpreting music from the middle ages to the baroque on historical instruments, with special value being placed on living authenticity, while consciously avoiding the "wagging of the scholarly finger". Programmes are designed to convey a colourful and comprehensive image of the epoch in question.

René Clemencic has been appearing since 1957 as a recorder virtuoso and leader of his own ensemble. Since 1966 he has run the "Musica Antigua" series, part of the concert season of the Vienna Musikverein. He has participated in over 100 records and CDs as soloist and with the Clemencic Consort, many of which have secured international prizes, including the Edison Award, Grand Prix du Disque, Diapason d'Or and the Prix Cecilia.
The Clemencic Consort has been, and continues to be, invited to the most important music festivals throughout the world.

Not only its hectic concert activity but also a great number of recordings, many of which also receive awards, underline the significance of the Clemencic Consort who, along the way, have made accessible to a wider public many works of earlier epochs — often for the first time.

Chorschule der Wiener Sängerknaben

Since September 2001, in addition to its boarding school, the School has offered boys and girls aged from 4 to 14 courses in choral singing, from elementary musical education to preparation for demanding, specific projects.
For the recording "Sacred Music from the Court Chapel of Maximilian I", a number of boys from the choir school were rehearsed by the schola's voice coach, Sylvia Purcar.

Choralschola der Wiener Hofburgkapelle

The Choralschola of the Vienna Hofburgkapelle, consisting exclusively of former members of the Vienna Boys' Choir, has been singing the Gregorian Propers at Sunday Mass in the Chapel of the Vienna Hofburg since 1952. Thanks to this continuing task, the Schola has developed into an internationally-recognised vocal ensemble who, in searching for an historically appropriate interpretation, also takes into account the musicological findings of research into the great tradition of Gregorian chant. A series of 6 CDs, produced between 1991 and 1997 under the direction of Father Hubert Dopf SJ., offers a view into the rich treasures of this highly evolved art of unison singing. Alongside these recordings, and at the invitation of Europe's most renowned music festivals, the meditative effect of Gregorian chant, combined with recitation or a solo instrument, has been successfully communicated to a wide public.

A concert programme has been developed reaching back to the establishment of the Court Chapel by Emperor Maximilian I in the late 15th century, with music by Josquin Desprez and Heinrich Isaac among others. What makes these events unique is that the music is sung a cappella following note-values from the highly complex original mensuration, something requiring a huge amount of patient preparation. Following the original example, boys' voices are introduced for the descant parts.

Notes on the works

The period around 1500 is a turning-point. Janus-like, it looks back to the middle ages and forwards to the new age, Gothic and Renaissance, ending and new beginning. The Vienna Hofkapelle (Court Chapel) of Kaiser Maximilian I stands at the apex of these changes. By 1496 Maximilian, emperor since 1493, had sent a part of his imperial chapel establishment to Vienna, together with the highly renowned composer, Heinrich Isaac. It was formally established in July 1498. Vienna became its permanent seat.

At the core of the chapel establishment was the choir, a vocal ensemble of men and boys brought together for the performance of highly evolved, polyphonic sacred music. It was supported by trumpets and trombones. Among the organists attached to it towered Maximilian's personal organist, Paul Hofhaimer.

The first Kapellmeister to be appointed was Georg Slatkonia from Laibach, later Bishop of Vienna. The well-educated and highly-organ¡sed Slatkonia remained principal Kapellmeister even after his appointment as Bishop. Heinrich Isaac was Court Composer until his death in 1517, and was succeeded in office by his pupil Ludwig Senfl.

In this recording we place alongside compositions by Maximlian's Hofkapellmeisters Heinrich Isaac and Ludwig Senfl a Mass by Josquin Desprez. "Josquin is the master of the notes, which must do as he wills it; the other composers have to do as the notes will it." (Martin Luther)

The Missa "di dadi" is in the third book of Josquin Masses, which first appeared in 1514-1516 published by Petrucci in Venice. The Mass is a so-called 'cantus firmus' Mass: the cantus firmus, a short melodic fragment, literally repeated in almost every section, permeates the whole work as a kind of spiritual bonding. It is however almost concealed within the inner parts. This cantus firmus corresponds to the beginning of the tenor part of the chanson N'auray je jamais mieulx by Robert Morton, the English musician active in Burgundy between 1457 and 1476.

Following the usage of the period, Josguin's Missa "di dadi", the Ordinary of the Mass, is accompanied by a selection of Mass Propers and instrumental versions of motets, so as to create a meaningful whole.

The inserted sung Propers are by Heinrich Isaac. The Introit and Alleluia are taken from the great "Choralis Constantinus", composed in part for Constance Cathedral but mostly for the Vienna Hofkapelle. Basic plainsong melodic structures are artfully worked out in mostly four-part imitative writing. Sometimes the plainsong structure appears almost unaltered in long, cantus firmus note-values.

The Magnificat is by Ludwig Senfl, His Magnificat sexti toni artfully elaborates the plainsong Magnificat melody in mostly four-part writing. Full account is taken of declamatory style and renaissance tonal sensibilities in the subtle contrapuntal writing.

The instrumental contributions present instrumental versions of motets by Josquin, Isaac and Senfl, according to the usage of the period. The organ pieces are intabulations of contemporary motets or original instrumental pieces.

The funeral ode Quis dabit oculis was composed by the Italian genius Constanzo Festa, (whose works are often confused with Josquin's) for the funeral of Ann of England, wife of the French King Louis XII. Senfl used the music, with slight alterations appropriate for the occasion, for the funeral ode on the death of Emperor Maximilian I (1519).

In this recording the music is performed from the original Renaissance notation with mensuration which, in order not to disturb the onward flow, has no bar-lines and no full score (see illustrations on page 15 & 17).

René Clemencic