Filia Praeclara / ensemble Peregrina
Music from 13th and 14th century Polish Clarisse convents
Divox CDX-70603


1. Clara Dei famula  [1:37]
Rondellus — alle

2. Gaude celi ierarchia  [4:24]
Sequenz, 15. Jh. — alle | sinfonia

3. Clara Dei famula  [2:57]
Sequenz, 15. Jh. — KL | EJ

4. Surrexit Christus hodie  [2:14]
Benedicamus-Lied, 14. Jh. — alle

5. Alleluia. V. O virgo clarens  [1:38]
13. Jh. — alle | Vers: KL

6. Ad veniam perveniam / TAMQUAM  [1:13]
Conductus-Mot., 13 Jh. — AB | LD | EJ

7. Alleluia. Vers. Fulgens luce claritatis  [3:14]
14. Jh. — alle | Vers: KL

8. Thronus novus  [5:48]
Sequenz, 15. Jh. — alle

9. Benedicamus Domino  [0:42]
13. Jh. — alle

10. O felix haec novitas  [2:43]
Sequenz, 13. Jh. — AB | sinfonia

11. Manere / MANERE  [3:07]
Motette, 13. Jh. — LD | EJ

12. Serena viginis / MANERE  [3:30]
Conductus-Motette, 13. Jh. — alle

13. Alleluia. Vers. Ave benedicta Maria  [3:25]
tropiert, 14. Jh. — alle | Vers: EJ

14. Jube domne benedicere / Una cuntis leticie  [4:31]
trop. Lectio, 14. Jh. — AB | EJ | alle

15. Ave Mater gracie  [2:15]
Sequenz, 13. Jh. — LD

16. [Stella naufragantium] et via regens devium  [2:17]
Benedicamus-Lied, 14. Jh. — AB | EJ

17. Omnia beneficia  [1:21]
Conductus, 13. Jh. — alle

18. Benedicamus Domino  [1:07]
13. Jh. — alle

19. Surrexit Christus hodie  [3:53]
Benedicamus-Lied, 14 Jh. — alle*

ensemble Peregrina
Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett (AB) — Gesang, Sinfonia · Leitung
Kelly Landerkin (AB) — Gesang · Leitung
Lorenza Donadini (LD) — Gesang
Els Janssens (EJ) — Gesang

*19: mit Eve Kopli & Veronika Holliger Jenšovská, Gesang | voice

Instrumente: Sinfonia — Siegfried Jud, Mels (CH) 1999

Aufnahme | Recording dates: KATHOLISCHE KIRCHE SEEWEN (SO) SWITZERLAND, 16.- 20. APRIL 2007
Digitaler Schnitt | Digital Editing: MAŁGORZATA ALBINSKA

Cover-Abbildung | Front Cover: KONIGSFELDEN (AG): KLARAFENSTER (um 1340).
(Detail: Klara erhalt die geweihte Palme | Clara receives the holy Palm)
Künstlerfotos | Photo artists: HANS JOERG ZUMSTEG

Program concept and transcriptions: AGNIESZKA BUDZIŃSKA-BENNETT
Executive Producer | Produzent: WOLFRAM M. BURGERT
Associated Producer: DR. ALFRED R. SCHEFENACKER

Das ensemble Peregrina möchte Herrn Dr. Peter Reidemeister für seine enorme Hilfe bei der Realisierung dieses Projektes und sein Vertrauen danken. Ebenso danken wir Herrn Dr. Thomas Drescher (SCB) für Vertrauen und Goodwill.

Ensemble Peregrina wishes to thank Dr. Peter Reidemeister for his constant faith in this project and enormous help in realizing it. We are most grateful to Dr. Thomas Drescher (SCB) for his trust and goodwill.

Folgenden Institutionen und Personen gilt ausserdem unsere tiefe Dankbarkeit | Our deep gratitude also goes to:
Thyssen Stiftung & Aargauer Kuratorium,
Karin Paulsmeier-Smith, Blażej Matusiak OP, Dr. Hans Joerg Zumsteg,
Lucas Bennett, Philipp Zimmermann, Prof. Dr. Felix Heinzer,
Dr. Eliza Pieciul-Karmińska, Agnieszka Oprządek, Bogna Augustyniak-Bohdanowicz, Anita Dettwiler.

© & Ⓟ 2008.03 DIVOX AG/SA/Ltd. — CH-4452 ITINGEN (Basel-Land) Switzerland


Two eminent medieval figures loom large in the program “Filia praeclara”: Saint Clara of Assisi (1194-1253), who together with Saint Francis founded the Clarisse Order, and Kinga of Hungary (circa 1224-1292, canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1999). She was the wife of Duke Boleslaw V (called Pudicus, the Chaste), and under their reign Poland had a period of cultural prosperity with important cultural centers of great influence with extremely productive scriptoria. Not only Poland's oldest polyphonic settings of elements of the Mass, but also a copy of the Magnus Liber Kinga brought with her to Poland (containing magnificent polyphonic music of the Notre-Dame school) date back to that time. To this day, fragments of Kingas copy of the Magnus Liber are extant at the convent of Stary Sącz in southern Poland, whose abbess she had become after her husband's death.

The music from Polish Clarisse convents, a fascinating and widely undocumented heritage, is one focal point of this program. The multilayered spiritual and musical world of Polish Clarisse convents - like Stary Sącz - is subtly brought to life by ensemble Peregrina; with musical pieces found only here and thus presumably mainly these convents own compositions, with elaborate polyphonic settings of fragments of Kinga's Magnus Liber that have been painstakingly reconstructed
for this program, and finally with monodic sequences for the patron of the order, Saint Clara, and other liturgical chants from the Clarisse Order.

Saint Clara was born in 1194 into a noble family in Assisi. After several encounters with Francis who awakened her enthusiasm for his ideal of poverty, she fled her parents' house in 1212. After having stayed in several convents, she settled near the church of San Damiano, where a community of pious women soon formed around her, aiming to lead a life according to Francis' rule, which the latter had probably already in 1212/13 adapted for her in the short written Forma vivendi. In 1215 Clara became abbess of San Damiano, where she lived until her death - bedridden from 1224/25. In 1215/16 she was granted the Privilegium paupertatis by Pope Innocent III. In 1253 - Clara was already on her deathbed - Pope Innocent IV confirmed the actual rule of the order, based upon the Forma vivendi. Clara's canonization procedures began already in the year of her death, leading to her sanctification in 1255.

The order of Saint Clara spread rapidly; as early as 1219 additional convents were founded in Italy, their number rising to 24 by 1228. From the 1230's, many new convents were founded outside of Italy, among others one in Prague in 1233.

In the anonymous Vita S. Clarae virginis Assisii in Umbria, ascribed by some researchers to the Franciscan monk Thomas of Celano, we read about the birth and naming of Clara:

Praegnans mulier cum ante crucem in ecclesia Crucifixum attente oraret, ut earn de partus periculo salubriter expediret, vocem audivit dicentem sibi: “Ne paveas mulier: quia quoddam lumen salva parturies, quod ipsum mundum clarius illustrabit.”
When the pregnant woman [=Clara's mother] in church before the cross implored the crucified Christ to see her through the perils of giving birth, she heard a voice saying to her: «Do not fear, woman, since truly, you will safely give birth to a light, and that light will brightly illuminate the world».

Whether the naming of Saint Clara really goes back to her parents' reasoning about the name's meaning or whether, conversely, Clara's name contributed to the legend, is of marginal significance. In any case, the name offered many possibilities to poets (in this case probably to poetesses as well) of the 13th and 14th centuries who particularly loved witty puns and playing with multiple layers of meaning.

The Latin adjective CLARUS, CLARA not only means clear, but also shining, illustrious, pure, or bright for acoustical phenomena, thus a bright sound which is loud and distinct, or with respect to the mind a clear mind which articulates something clearly and comprehensibly, or in a metaphorical sense, with respect to character or social status shining, illustrious, outstanding, glorious, famous.

From these, a large number of additional words with the same breadth of meaning are deduced, as PRAECLARA (extremely clear, clear through and through etc.), CLARITAS (clearness etc.), CLARESCERE (become clear, become bright, light up etc.) or CLARE, which in Medieval Latin can be both adverb (in a clear manner, etc.) and genitive of the name Clara, creating additional potential for puns. This variety of meaning cannot be reproduced by any translation and must always be borne in mind when reading and listening to the texts.

Where there is mention of light and brightness, associations with sun, moon and other celestial bodies are rather obvious. The imagery of celestial bodies is an often recurring topos in the poetry on Clara, as in the sequence Gaude celi ierarchia, where it says in the fourth stanza: “Vere sidus tu praeclarum, quod a sole differt parum” - “You are truly an exceptionally brightly shining star only slightly inferior to the sun”.

The sun here means Christ. This proximity of Clara to Jesus is another characteristic of poetry from around her order. Likewise, it is not by accident that the phrase “Ne paveas mulier” from the Vita S. Clarae cited above is reminiscent of the “Ne timeas Maria” in the annunciation scene (Luke 1, 30): In both passages a voice from the heavens announces the birth of a child that will bring light to the world.

Apart from the concrete episodes from the legend of Saint Clara - the wondrous proliferation of oil reminiscent of the legend of the wise and foolish virgins, the healing of sick people, etc. - it is the punning with the semantic field CLARA, the imagery of celestial bodies connected with it and the proximity to Jesus (and at times identification with Mary) that are the most prominent characteristics of poetry concerned with Clara. A combination of all these elements can be found in the already mentioned sequence Gaude celi ierarchia (2). Among the many allusions to Claras life, the “paupertatis titulum” (the privilege of poverty bestowed by Pope Innocent III) and the Imitation of Christ in Mary's footsteps (Mariae vestigium eius sequens filium) particularly stand out in the sequence Clara Dei famula (3). The imagery of celestial bodies is particularly prominent in the sequence Thronus novus (8), in which the seven heavenly bodies symbolize the virginal virtues that shine like seven stars on Salomon's throne and are likened to the seven pillars of wisdom supporting the house of God. Remarkably, there is mention of seven heavenly bodies in stanza 2, but only six of them are explicitly named. In connection with the seventh virtue Deus is mentioned - probably as a substitute for the planet Jupiter.

The Clarisse Order's repertory includes pieces for other saints as well, such as John the Evangelist - portrayed as a beautiful young man with markedly feminine traits - who was revered by female orders in the 14th century with an ardor sometimes bordering on erotic ecstasy. An example of this is the motet Manere/MANERE (11), a fragment from Kinga's Magnus liber completed by Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett with multiple allusions to a gradual for John the Evangelist, itself based on a passage from the Gospel of John. Serena virginum/MANERE (12) is a conductus motet on the same tenor, but with a Marian text. The technique of adapting to Mary texts originally written for John is motivated by several factors - the closeness to Christ, the union under the cross, and not least John's feminine traits. The sequence O fax haec novitas (10) is the second part of a lengthy sequence on the Annunciation to Mary, which itself is modelled on a sequence for John. The allusions to the wise virgins awaiting the arrival of their bridegroom with full vessels of oil in the conductus motet Ad veniam perveniam (6), on the tenor TAMQUAM: “As [a bridegroom, the Lord cometh forth out of his chamber]”, are common Clara symbolism.

Besides the two- and three-voice Surrexit Christus hodie (4 and 19) with the Easter scene of the women at the tomb, and the two Benedicamus Domino (9 and 18), all drawn from Polish Clarisse manuscripts, it is also the Alleluias with their verses which contribute to a vivid image of the order's liturgical ceremonies. The first two are explicitly for Clara. Their verses O virgo clarens (5) and Fulgens luce claritatis (7), respectively, playfully explore the wide array of meaning within the semantic field clara, claritas, etc. The third, as is made clear by the beginning of the verse Ave benedicta Maria (13), is addressed to the Virgin Mother. The troped additions are distinguished from the original verse by their regular prosodic structure and rhythmic declamation.

Among the most remarkable rarities of this program are the three works [Stella naufragantium] et via regens (16), the vocally demanding lecture trope Jube domne benedicere / Una cunctis leticie (14), and Omnia beneficia (17). The first is a fragmentary Benedicamus Domino trope on Mary Star of the Sea which has been found only in Stary Sącz and was completed by Agnieszka Budzńska-Bennett. Its symbolism of shining stars lighting the way is typical of Clara. The conductus Omnia beneficia has also only been found in Stary Sącz and might well become an unofficial anthem elsewhere, too.

Philipp Zimmermann
Translation: Lucas Bennett

When in 1992 I went for the first time to Stary Sącz, a small town in the south of Poland with a glorious past, I could not have guessed what a great influence this place would have on my future musical and musicological development. The beautiful Clarisse convent and the excellent concerts given there made an indelible impression on me. It was there I first heard the conductus Omnia beneficia, which was something like the festivals unofficial anthem. The strongest impression was made on me by the Cologne ensemble Sequentia with the late Barbara Thornton (voice), Benjamin Bagby (voice and Romanesque harp) and Elisabeth Gaver (fiddle). It was also thanks to Ben's and Barbara's year-long support and encouragement that upon completing my musicological studies at Poznań, I decided to go to Basle to study medieval performance practice. The program on this CD thus not only aims to highlight the musical roots and culture of my native country, but it also completes a circle for me in a personal sense. At the same time it is meant as homage to these exceptional musicians.

Although I had for a long time wanted to put together a program with music from Polish Clarisse convents, I didn't really begin to work on the project until early 2005. The impulse was given when I was asked to do a program with medieval music for the 700 year celebration of the St. Klara Keller in Cologne. This wonderful gothic vault is the only surviving part of the Clarisse convent in the centre of Cologne which was founded in the 14th and destroyed in the early 18th century (now privately owned: Römerturm 3). It quickly became clear to me that music from within the same order, namely from Stary Sącz and Cracow, would be most suitable, since the fragments of the Magnus Liber held there, as well as some extraordinarily interesting unica giving proof of a highly interesting local production, would allow me to paint a varied and fascinating picture of Franciscan music culture in southern Poland in the 13th century. At every turn, I was confronted with intriguing music which due to their fragmentary transmission or imprecise notation presented a musicological and paleographical challenge. The search for music in honor of the order's patron Saint Clara time and again lead me to parallel sources of Bohemian and southern German provenience at the libraries of Prague and Karlsruhe. These works - primarily sequences - are characterized by wonderful texts and add to the image of Franciscan scriptoria.

Furthermore, one manuscript from the 15th century from the southern German Clarisse convent St. Georgen near Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe, Bad. Landesbibliothek, St. Georgen 3) containing sequences on Saint Clara provided me with precious information on performance practice in female convents at the time. The rubrics contain the division of the musical functions in cantrix, duo sorores de primo choro and chorus. I decided to apply this division to some sequences (Thronus novus) and the two versions of Surrexit Christus hodie as well. Concerning the two last-mentioned, there is additional information to be found; a description of performance practice for the Surrexit in the Liber sacerdotalis, which was published in Venice after the Council of Trent 1. In it there is a description of the division into soloists for the verses and choir which enters for the Alleluia. I applied this division to the two versions of Surrexit Christus hodie from the Cracow source.

On the program are also monodic and polyphonic Polish works that were written down in Clarisse convents and are part of their liturgy (e.g. [Stella naufragantium] et via regem), as well as polyphonic compositions from the libraries of these convents (fragments from the Magnus Liber), the actual performance and possible liturgical use of which, however, can only be speculated on. Since they have only been fragmentarily transmitted, they had to be reconstructed on the basis of complete sources of Notre-Dame polyphony (e.g. Ad veniam / TAMQUAM or Manere / MANERE). The sequences dedicated to the order's patron drawn from Bohemian and German sources are an additional highlight.

The program presented on this CD addresses the culture and tradition of a female order and is performed by an ensemble composed exclusively of women. Nor is it by accident that almost all the pieces tell of female figures: Saint Clara (Tracks 1-3, 5, 7-8), the Virgin Mother (Tracks 10, 12-16) and the women at the tomb (4 und 19). Also present are the Wise and the Foolish Virgins (6), while the female traits of John the Evangelist (Motet Manere / MANERE, Track 11) are emphasized by the Marian contrafactum Serena virginis / MANERE (12).

Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett
Translation: Lucas Bennett

(1). F. Bąk - Średniowieczne graduały, franciszkańskie, MMA III, PWM 1969, str. 95.