Sequentia - Lost Songs of a Rhineland Harper - 2004 (SACD-R, ISO)

Sequentia – Lost Songs of a Rhineland Harper – 2004 (SACD-R, ISO)

Orchestra: Sequentia
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1 SACD-R
Format: ISO
Bit Depth: 64(2.8 MHz/1 Bit)
Number of channels: 5.0, 2.0
Label: Harmonia Mundi
Size: 3.77 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes
Server: rapidgator

Sequentia / Lost Songs of a Rhineland Harper

01. Felix qui potuit boni (9:59)
02. Caute cane, cantor care (2:29)
03. Magnus Cesar Otto (6:24)
04. Rota modos arte (3:13)
05. David reges inclita proles (3:48)
06. Cigni (3:03)
07. Foebus abierat (5:57)
08. Clangam, filii (4:06)
09. Phebi claro (2:35)
10. Aurea personet lira (7:00)
11. Iam, dulcis amica, venito (4:26)
12. Advertite, omnes populi (8:29)
13. O admirabile Veneris idolum (3:15)
14. Puella turbata (2:50)
15. Suavissima nunna (4:28)
16. Veni, dilectissime (2:26)


Agnethe Christensen – voice
Eric Mentzel
– voice
Benjamin Bagby
– voice, lyre, harp
Norbert Rodenkirchen
– flute, lyre

What did secular European song sound like one thousand years ago? Who were its singers and what instruments did they play? Where, and under what circumstances, have their songs survived? Can we ever hope to reconstruct music from such a distant age? These are the questions which led to my initial search for the lost songs of a performing musician whose name remains unknown to us, a search which now culminates – or at least pauses for reflection – in this program: Lost Songs of a Rhineland Harper.

Almost one thousand years ago a collection Latin and German song was copied into a manuscript by Anglo-Saxon monks in the Abbey of St. Augustine in Canterbury. The original source – or sources – has long since disappeared, but the manuscript copy has survived to this day, and is now found in the library of Cambridge University. Although we will never know what its exact origin was, one thing is clear: many of the songs copied by the monks come from the milieu of learned, aristocratic churchmen in the Rhineland, where cities such as Cologne, Mainz, Worms and Speyer were centers of culture and power in Germany at the turn of the first millennium. In addition, it is striking that many of the song texts from this collection display an intimate working knowledge of music, the voice, and instruments, especially the harp (cithara, lira) and even the flute (tibia). When considering possible sources of the Canterbury collection, the evidence points strongly to the performance repertoire of a learned “citharista”, a bi-lingual harper/singer from the Rhineland, whose songs delighted not only aristocratic bishops and their courts, but also powerful abbots, secular nobility (inlcuding the Kaiser’s court), and the young clerical intelligentsia of those bustling river towns with their imposing cathedrals. Here we have the songs of a professional entertainer whose audience was expected to pay for his services (and he might easily have been joined on occasion by another minstrel from the ranks of the itinerant players, or even a poetically-inclined clerical cantor). Our program combines some of the earliest-known musical manuscripts of European song with reconstructions from the Canterbury manuscript, to give a glimpse into the deliciously subtle, long-lost world of an unknown Rhineland harper and his sophisticated audience.

Benjamin Bagby



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