Die Wimpfener Motetten / I Ciarlatani
The Wimpfen Fragments. 13th c. motets

Christophorus CHR 77215


1 - [3:43]
Wimpfener fragments XIX-XX (instr.)
Wf. I. Conductus. Deus in adiutorium

2 - [3:20]
Alleluia dominica resurrectionis: “Alleluia pascha ...”
Wf. IX. Motet. [Tu decus est decoris] ~ [O Maria beata genitrix] ~ Nostrum
Alleluia dominica resurrectionis: “... inmolatus est Christus. Alleluia”

3 - [1:43]
Wf. VII. Motet. Celi Domina ~ Ave virgo virginum ~ Et super  [1:43]

4 - [4:33]
Graduale 'Constitutes eos'. “Constitutes eos ... nominis tue Domine ...”
Wf. V. Motet. Fons misericordie ~ In celesti curia ~ Pro patribus  [4:33]
Graduale 'Constitutes eos'. “... tuis natis ... tue Domine.”

5 - [2:26]
Wf. II. Motet. [O Maria virgo Davidica] ~ [O Maria maris stella] ~ Veritatem

6 - [4:28]
Alma redemptoris mater. “Alma redemptoris mater ...
Wf. III. Motet. Virginale decus ~ Descendi in hortum nucum ~ Alma redemptoris mater  [4:28]
Alma redemptoris mater. “... que pervia celi porta ... ave peccatorum miserere.”

7 - [2:25]
Wf. XXII. Conductus. Mater salutifera
Wimpfener fragment XI (instr.)
Wf. XXII. Conductus. Mater salutifera

8 - [1:58]
Wf. XVI. Motet. Benedicite Dominum ~ Benedicite Dominum ~ Aptatur (instr.)
Wf. IV. Motet. [Psalat Chorus] ~ [Eximie pater] ~ [Aptatur]

9 - [2:01]
Wf. XIV. Motet. Homo miserabilis ~ Homo luge ~ Brumas e mors

10 - [2:18]
Wf. II. Conductus. Si membrana esset celum

11 - [2:51]
Wf. XV. Motet. O nacio nephandi ~ Conditio nature defuit ~ Mane prima

12 [4:51]
Responsorium 'Terribilis est'. “Terribilis est ... et ego nesciebam ...”
Wf. X. Motet. Douche dame ~ Salve virgo virginum ~ Cumque ... sompno ait
Responsorium 'Terribilis est'. “... vere etenim ... et ego nesciebam.”

13 - [1:07]
Wf. VIII. Motet. [Ave lux luminum] ~ Salve virgo ~ [Neuma (instr.)]

14 - [8:02]
Wf. XXIII. Organum-Responsorium 'Stirps Iesse'. “Stirps Jesse ... virga est ...”
Wf. VI. Motet. Salve Virgo ~ O Maria mater Dei ~ Flos filius eius
Wf. XXIII. Organum-Responsorium 'Stirps Iesse'. “ ... et super hunc ... spiritus almus.”

15 - [2:57]
Benedicamus Domino. “Benedicamus ...”
Wf. X. Motet. Dominator Domine ~ Ecce mysterium ~ Domino
Benedicamus Domino. “... Deo gracias”
Wf. XVIII. Conductus. Ave gloriosa

16 - [1:50]
Wimpfener fragment XIX (instr.)
Wf. I. Conductus. [In te Christe credencium]

Klaus Winkler

Michael Elges, tenor
Wilfried Rombach, tenor
Armin Gottstein, baritone
Russ Hodge, fiddle
Johannes Vogt, psaltery, lute
Klaus Winkler, douçaine, recorder

Schola an der Jesuitenkirche Heidelberg
Wilfried Rombach

overall direction: Klaus Winkler

The Heidelberg Ensemble, consisting of a core group of five musicians, was formed by Johannes Vogt and Klaus Winkler in 1982. The “Charlatans” see themselves as late descendants of the “Ziarlatani” described by Praetorius: improvisational artists who sing “villanellas and other mad songs” in the tradition of medieval wandering minstrels. With varying instrumentation that is expanded as needed, performances of music from the Middle Ages to Early Baroque are given on historical instruments. In addition to the High Middle Ages, the musical life at the electoral court in Heidelberg is among the special interests in the repertoire of the ensemble. Sound research of music history and the highest standards of musicality form the basis of an exciting approach to times long past for both the interpreters and the listeners.

Musical arrangement and transcription: Armin Gottstein
Editing and translation of the Latin texts: Werner Straube
Translation of the French texts: Karl Brademann

Executive Producer: Hanno Pfisterer
Recording: 3. - 4.6.1998, Ev. Kirche Hoffenheim
Recording Producer, Balance Engineer, Editing: Peter Laenger
Translations: Janet & Michael Berridge (English), Jean-Pierre Dauphin (Français)
Booklet Editor: Joachim Berenbold
Cover Picture: Frühgotischer Teil des Kreuzgangs in der Ritterstiftskirche St. Peter, Bad Wimpfen (Foto: Gereon Schatten)
Artist Photo (p.5): Peter Laenger
Cover Design: Thomas Christen
℗ 1998 © 1998 MusiContact GmbH, Heidelberg, Germany

by Werner Straube and Klaus Winkler

Of the former Dominican monastery buildings at Bad Wimpfen on the Neckar, whose cornerstone was laid in 1264, the only ones still standing today (with later Baroque-style additions) are the church and the cloister. After the monastery in the former Hessian town was secularized, its library was closed down, the books being transferred to the Archducal Court Library in Darmstadt, which later became the Hessian State Library. The major surviving portion of the former Wimpfen documents comprised numerous paper manuscripts and incunabula from the fifteenth century, mostly pertaining to the order. In the workshops of monasteries the durable parchment of older, no longer needed manuscripts was frequently used for bookbinding, and in Wimpfen the leaves of at least one musical manuscript were cut up for the same purpose. In 1958, after these parchment fragments had been retrieved and correlated, the musicologist Friedrich Gennrich published a facsimile edition with a description of them (Die Wimpfener Fragmente der Hessischen Landesbibliothek Darmstadt. Faksimile-Ausgabe der Hs 3471, edited by Friedrich Gennrich, Darmstadt 1958) and added a supplementary transcription derived from parallel sources in other manuscripts.

Over and above a two-part organum in the Notre-Dame tradition and two- and three-part conducti, the surviving original documents chiefly contain three-part motets with predominantly Latin texts in praise of the Virgin Mary. In their importance, the Wimpfen Fragments are therefore comparable with such famous thirteenth- and early fourteenth-century manuscripts containing music for several voices as are to be found today in various European libraries (e.g.: Bamberg Ed. IV6.; Montpellier H 196; Florence Plut. 29 cod. 1; Wolfenbüttel W2; Huelgas; Paris “La Clayette”). Intact motets contained in these manuscripts provided the means of supplementing the texts and the music of the often fragmentary Wimpfen compositions. On the other hand, the Wimpfen Fragments also contain works which are verifiable in no other sources and it is to be feared that, with the destruction of the original versions, certain material has been irretrievably lost.

The motet for three voices proves to be the predominant compositional form. The musical basis of the writing is the “tenor”, a generally short, rhythmized extract of Gregorian chant from the Mass or Divine Office and, in a single case, a melody set to a secular text. The two other parts, “Motetus” and “Triplum”, are free compositional additions, possess different texts and are occasionally even compounded of several languages. Despite the fact that their simultaneous execution naturally causes direct textual comprehensibility to suffer, all the parts are correlated, not only musically, but generally also in regard to verbal context, so that Triplum and Motetus comment upon and elucidate the fundamental tenor and its background. The originators of these early compositions for several voices came from the ranks of a clerical elite who not only possessed the necessary skills for the task, but also had long years of experience in Gregorian chant as well as knowledge of the secular musical techniques of the minstrels. The written representation in Franconian mensural notation of the pitch and temporal relations of the various parts was only possible in the scriptoria of large convents.

However, critics from within the clergy regarded the new polyphony as a vain conceit - and not only because profanely erotic texts were increasingly being set to music (which, however, does not apply in the manuscripts that have come down to us from Wimpfen). Their misgivings and reservations also focused upon the differently-worded parts of the motets, because they jeopardized the clarity and comprehensibility of the Gregorian chant in the tenor. The frequency with which proscriptive measures are to be found certainly indicates widespread use of the motet, yet our knowledge of actual performing practices is scant. We have proof of their insertion at the appropriate point in the liturgy, but a “concertante” presentation beyond the framework of the divine service also seems probable. Particularly in the case of the Dominicans, whose extremely early use of organ music as an alternative to the sung liturgy is known to us, the possibility that instruments were incorporated in performance cannot be excluded. With the exception of a few items too fragmentary to be used, the present recording introduces the entire surviving Wimpfen inventory as supplemented with contemporary sources. A number of the motets have been inserted into the appropriate section of the plainsong, which is performed either by a Schola or by soloists. Through a two-part organum and the motet “Salve virgo/ O Maria mater dei / Flos” [14], the Responsory “Stirps lesse” to the Nativity of Mary takes on a particularly festive character.

The way in which the selected texts are presented clearly shows their fragmentary character, the supplements from other sources being marked with square brackets. The Latin texts are presented in a form designed to show that a linguistic form-giving intention (verse form, metre, rhymes) exists. The method of writing used in the original fragments has deliberately been retained, and the enhancements from other manuscripts have been adapted or adopted accordingly (e.g. “que” instead of the classical “quae”, “racio” instead of “ratio”, “psalere” instead of “psallere”), so as to convey an authentic overall impression as far as possible. Punctuation has also been dispensed with for the same reason. Initial capitals have either been adopted or appropriately inserted; proper names are (in contradistinction to the manuscript) marked as such throughout (i.e. “Maria” instead of “maria”, etc.), “Dominus” and “Deus” are also given the upper case.

Many things suggest that the manuscripts were composed in northern France. The assumption that the place origin is Paris (which also happened to be the administrative centre of the Dominican order) is supported by two French texts and the surviving repertoire. The conductus “Deus in adiutorium” [1], whose first stanza refers to Psalm 69.2, has come down to us in numerous French manuscripts. The Triplum of “Douche dame / Salve virgo virginum / Cumque” [12], has an exclusively French text. However, the French tenor of “Homo miserabilis / Homo luge / Brumas e mors” [9], has - a unique feature of the “Wimpfen Fragments” - a subsequently appended German translation and explanation: “Brumas is dead O woe the grief”. Brumas, called the “Haughty” (and variously given as Brumant, Bruman, Brumanz), is a knight of the Round Table in the anonymous thirteenth-century French Lancelot prose romance. Seated at the “Siege Perilous”, he meets his death in spectacular circumstances: as the penalty for his contumacy he is struck dead by lightning. The tenor quotes literally from the text of the romance (“Brumanz est morz”), the Triplum and Motetus commenting with thoughts on the hereafter.

The Latin texts too hint at French origin. The Motetus of “Virginale decus / Descendi in hortum nucum / Alma” [6], contains a slightly shortened text from the Song of Solomon (6. 10f. - taken from the Vulgate, as are all subsequent Biblical passages). The introductory words: “Descendi in hortum” (“I went down into the garden”) are clearly noted by the copyist - presumably accustomed in his mother tongue to not aspirating an initial “H” - as “Descendi in ortum”: “I went down into the origin”. The genitive “nucum” following upon “hortum” (i.e. garden “of the nuts”) has been recognized as senseless, and “nucum” has thus been altered to the contextually meaningful and, in the chosen script, similar-looking “meum”: “I went down to my origin.” However, the Vulgate text is sung on the CD.


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