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orpheus chor münchen & Gerd Guglhör Franz Lachner: Geistliche Chorwerke - Sacred Choral Works OC 809 CD
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FormatAudio CD
Ordering NumberOC 809
Barcode4260034868090
labelOehmsClassics
Release date07/01/2008
salesrank4741
Players/ContributorsMusicians Composer
  • Lachner, Franz

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      orpheus chor münchen · Gerd Guglhör, conductor
      Priska Eser · Lisa Rothländer · Iris Julien
      Andrea Görgner · Felix Rienth · Benedikt Göbel

      The orpheus chor münchen, under the direction of its conductor Gerd Guglhör, already earned laurels with its recording of the complete choral works of Heinrich Kaminski. On its new CD, the choir presents works of a further composer whose life is closely bound with the Bavarian capital: from 1836, Franz Lachner led the royal court chapel, and thus, the Munich opera and court concerts. In 1883, he was made an honorary citizen of that city. Before the era of Richard Wagner, Lachner brought the court orchestra to a level that had never been reached before, and after Wagner left Munich, he returned again to lead the orchestra for over a year, with great success.

      Franz Lachner – a rediscovered romantic composer from Munich

      Franz Lachner (1803–1890) was born into a very poor family in Rain am Lech and had numerous brothers and sisters. His father, who kept the family afloat working as a city organist and watchmaker, insisted that all of his children have theoretical and practical musical instruction; all should learn voice and violin as well as piano and organ. Vinzenz Lachner, Franz’s younger brother, reports, “With unyielding severity, [our father] taught every one of his children music by himself – from the age of five on – from morning till evening.” The fact that the family had neither music paper nor books – not to mention any keyboard instruments – presented no problem; the children learned to read music from notes written on the wall and practiced on a dumb piano. In the end, not only Franz Lachner, but also five of his siblings became musicians: at 15, Christina Lachner took over her father’s organ post after his death and sister Thekla became organist at Augsburg’s St. Georg city parish church. While Theodor Lachner was primarily a music teacher, the two younger brothers Ignaz and Vinzenz became kapellmeisters in various large German and European cities.

      After the death of his father in 1820, Franz left school with the permission of his mother – he had been a scholarship recipient at the Royal School in Neuburg an der Donau – and went to Munich, where he hoped to find a position as a music teacher. Instead, he first had to earn a meager existence with temporary jobs as a violinist, cellist, horn player and contrabassist at the Isartor Theater and as an organist at the Dreifaltigkeitskirche. In any event, however, Lachner found a solicitous teacher in Caspar Ett, organist at St. Michael, who taught him music theory and organ at no cost. But because Lachner was unable to achieve professional independence in Munich, he made his way to Vienna in 1823.

      Shortly after his arrival, Franz Lachner won the audition for the organ position in Vienna’s protestant church; two important contemporaries and personal acquaintances of Mozart’s, namely court kapellmeister Antonio Salieri and church composer Abbé Stadler, had been in the jury. It took very little time before Lachner, who industriously composed in his spare time, was entrusted with the direction of the ensemble of the k.k. court opera theater next to Kärntner Tor. For this reason, he let his brothers Ignaz and Vinzenz substitute for him at the organ more and more frequently. Between 1827 and 1829, Lachner began to compose sacred music, writing three masses for orchestra in this time. It can be assumed that Lachner hoped to find a position as court kapellmeister with these works. As of 1831, he began appearing as a conductor, and soon became a favorite of the Viennese public. In 1833, together with members of the Vienna court opera orchestra, Lachner founded the Vienna “Künstlerverein”, a predecessor of the Vienna Philharmonic.

      During his years in Vienna, Franz Lachner established numerous relationships with important musical and literary personalities. He had instruction with Vienna court organist Simon Sechter and the previously mentioned Abbé Stadler. He also belonged to Franz Schubert’s inner circle and even became personally acquainted with Ludwig van Beethoven. He developed a life-long friendship with the painter Moritz von Schwind, whom we thank today for the so-called “Lachner roll” – a pictorial biography of the musician painted on a 12½-meter long roll – which included Lachner’s most important way-stations and numerous episodes from his life as an artist.

      In 1834, Franz Lachner left Vienna to accept the position of Baden’s grand-ducal court kapellmeister in Mannheim. His task was to rehearse operas at the Mannheim court and national theater as well as conduct the court orchestra’s winter concerts.

      After unsuccessful negotiations with Berlin – Mendelssohn came in ahead of him – Lachner went to Munich in 1836. As kapellmeister of the royal court orchestra, he was responsible for conducting the opera and concerts of the court orchestra as well as for sacred music at the residence court chapel and in the court churches of St. Michael and St. Kajetan.

      Under the direction of Franz Lachner, a glorious three decades of musical life dawned in Munich. Not only did Lachner unite the ensembles of singers and instrumentalists that had been separate until then, but he also raised the artistic level of the court opera orchestra to unachieved heights; a situation that first made it possible to stage the demanding works of his later rival Richard Wagner in Munich. That Munich’s court ensemble could also be considered as having top international ranking can be read out of statements by Munich theology professor Friedrich, who had heard performances of sacred music in Roman churches in 1869/70: “From Lateran, I went to S. Maria maggiore and attended the resurrection liturgy with horrible music. As the singers began, I thought I was in Munich listening to ‘folk singers’ performing a ‘schnaderhüpfl’. After the Credo and Agnus Dei, the organ began playing a polka melody. The church music is generally awful here, and even the Lamentations and Miserere in St. Peter, i.e. the Capella papalis, doesn’t touch our Munich court chapel” (J. Friedrich, diary, Nördlingen 1871). As head of the concerts of the Musical Academy as well as in the service of sacred music, Lachner advanced the tastes of the public with other accomplishments as well: not only did he perform music of the Viennese classic, but was considered a fascinating Beethoven interpreter. In addition, he was the Munich discoverer of Handel and Bach: Bach’s St. Matthew Passion was performed in Munich for the first time under Lachner’s direction in 1842. Although the music of the new German school (Liszt, Wagner, Cornelius and Bülow) personally did not attract Lachner, he prepared and rehearsed Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde (premiere in Munich in 1865 under Hans von Bülow’s direction), Der Fliegende Holländer and Meistersinger; he himself conducted Tannhäuser and Lohengrin. In addition, Lachner always found time to give lessons (his students included Joseph Rheinberger, Franz Wüllner and Engelbert Humperdinck).

      As a composer, Lachner was exceptionally multi-faceted. He wrote nearly 400 works: in addition to vocal music (masses, psalms, oratorios and cantatas, choruses, 350 songs) and stage works (four operas), he also penned chamber music and instrumental works (including eight symphonies, eight orchestral suites, organ works etc.). He also received numerous honors. In 1852, he was named “General Music Director” – a title created especially for him. In 1863, the Munich University gave him an honorary doctorate. Robert Schumann called Lachner “the most talented and knowledgeable of all Southern German composers.”

      The appointment of Richard Wagner and Hans von Bülow to in 1864 spoiled Franz Lachner’s work at the opera. Although Wagner recognized Lachner’s work as being responsible for the exceptional professional level of the Munich court orchestra, the two men’s musical ideas were nevertheless incompatible. Lachner harshly criticized Wagner – who was effusively honored by King Ludwig II and who increasingly raised his extravagant demands. And Wagner conversely expressed himself in occasionally insulting tones about Lachner’s talent as a composer. Embittered, Lachner finally asked to resign.

      Lachner’s lasting artistic success was shown particularly through the admiration of Munich’s public for him. After Wagner left, he returned to the conductor’s podium in 1867 for one more year and was again the celebrated representative of Munich’s musical culture. In 1883, on his 80th birthday, Franz Lachner was made an honorary citizen of Munich (other musicians who have been accorded this honor include Richard Strauss, Hans Knappersbusch, Carl Orff, Werner Egk and Sergiu Celibidache). Franz Lachner died at 86 in January 1890 in Munich. His grave can be found in the old southern city cemetery.

      Lachner and sacred music Because the expression “sacred music” is not an accurate term for works of the 19th century, Lachner’s sacred works cannot be precisely categorized. If one leaves out the dramatic oratorio Moses as well as his organ and brass ensemble works, which were meant to be performed in the church, a total of 91 larger and smaller sacred vocal works can be counted. The most important group is Lachner’s eleven masses (including a requiem and a mass fragment). According to what we know today, this is about one-fifth of Lachner’s entire output. Only one-third of these works has been printed, and this still exists primarily in 19th century editions. In the 32 years of Lachner’s time as Munich court kapellmeister, he wrote over 70 church compositions in Latin; his most fruitful phase was between 1853 and 1859, when he created 40 sacred vocal works. While Lachner’s works in Latin were written for liturgical use, his sacred works in German (psalms, hymns, sacred songs etc.) were only written for the concert hall. They were heard in concerts at the musical academies, in the soirees of the royal vocal chapel or in the concerts of the Munich oratorio association. 19th century church music in Munich was characterized by historical, restorative and reformational tendencies, and sometimes abbreviated as the “Palestrina Renaissance”. Athough the main representatives of this primarily a-cappella musical movement were Lachner’s former teacher Caspar Ett, Johann Caspar Aiblinger and Lachner’s later student Josef Gabriel Rheinberger, some of the movement’s elements can be found in Lachner’s music as well. A common feature of his sacred works from the Munich period is that they are written for a-cappella voices, to which an organ is only seldom added. The vocal registration is exceptionally varied – from two-voice masses to three-to-seven-voice compositions for womens’, mens’ or mixed choirs, up to four-voice mixed double-choirs. In his works for double-choir, the imitative-concertante and simultaneously contrasting interplay between the individual choirs is apparent as well as highly reminiscent of 16th century Venetian polychoral models. Characteristic is also the almost through-composed notation in large note values, primarily in half notes, whole notes or breves, mostly in connection with alla breve meters. In doing this, Lachner was closely following the notation used during his time for the works of Palestrina and Lasso. Through his growing occupation with the works of Bach, Lachner not only became one of the driving forces for the Munich Bach renaissance in the mid-19th century, but his own works also became more polyphonic than they were during his Viennese period. Although Lachner’s harmonies are primarily based on those of the Viennese classic or the period shortly thereafter, they are always enriched by a touch of modality, the imitation of Gregorian chant or with careful chromaticism, the use of enharmonics and romantic harmonies. Of the works performed here, particularly the Stabat Mater and the Mass in F Major show the union of historicizing technique, classical form and romantic expression so typical for Lachner.

      Dr. Brigitte Huber
      Translation: Elizabeth Gahbler

      Tracklist hide

      CD 1
      • Mass F major op. 130
        for soli and two choirs
        • 1.Kyrie05:19
        • 2.Gloria03:48
        • 3.Credo08:25
        • 4.Sanctus02:16
        • 5.Benedictus03:59
        • 6.Agnus Dei06:01
      • Stabat Mater op. 154
        for soli and two choirs
        • 7.Stabat mater dolorosa04:29
        • 8.Quis est homo03:27
        • 9.Eja mater03:54
        • 10.Fac me vere04:19
        • 11.Fac me plagis vulnerari03:10
      • The 15th Psalm for double choir
        • 12.“Herr, wer wird wohnen in deiner Hütte”05:26
      • Total:54:33