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Ref: CD704

17 tracks, 67 min

From the ancient church of St Emmeram in Regensburg, Bavaria, comes this new recording of music for the Emperor Maximilian I. An Easter Mass by court composer Ludwig Senfl (c1486-1543) is sung by the acclaimed Choir of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. They are joined on this occasion by QuintEssential, playing ancient brass instruments. Plus solo songs and harp music with Andrew Lawrence-King, harp, and vocal soloists including stunning bass Robert Macdonald.

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Missa Paschalis
Motetten & Lieder

1 Missa Paschalis (Kyrie) (5'36)
2 Missa Paschalis (Gloria) (10'35)
3 So ich sie dann (1'36)
4 Carmen in Re (1'41)
5 Im Maien (1'55)
6 Missa Paschalis (Sanctus) (6'11)
7 Missa Paschalis (Agnus Dei) (3'06)
8 Ach Elslein (1'45)
9 Ich Stuend (2'55)
10 Wohl auf (3'15)
11 Ave Maria (super Josquin) (11'21)
12 Was wird (2'01)
13 Carmen in La (1'33)
14 So man lang macht (4'30)
15 Fortuna ad voces musicales (3'28)
16 Quis dabit oculis (Festa; arr. Senfl?) (5'46)
Total time (66'51)

Cover image: Emperor Maximilian I (oil on panel) Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna/The Bridgeman Art Library
Recorded in the chapel of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, 25-26 May 2008 by kind permission of the Master and Fellows and in the church of St Emmeram, Regensburg, 9th-11th July 2008 by kind permission of H.H. Prälat Robert Thummerer
Recording engineer John Duggan
Production assistant Anna Souter
Produced by Martin Souter

Andrew Lawrence-King
Christopher Watson, tenor
Robert Macdonald, bass
The Choir of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge
Directed by David Skinner

Missa Paschalis
Motetten & Lieder


Next to theology I give to music the highest place and honour. Music is the art of the prophets, the only art that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.

Ich liebe die Musik, und es gefallen mir die Schwärmer nicht, die sie verdammen. Weil sie erstens ein Geschenk Gottes und nicht der Menschen ist, zweitens weil sie die Seelen fröhlich macht, drittens weil sie den Teufel verjagt, viertens weil sie unschuldige Freude weckt. Darüber vergehen die Zornanwandlungen, die Begierden, der Hochmut. Ich gebe der Musik den ersten Platz nach der Theologie.

-- Martin Luther


Ludwig Senfl was born between 1489 and 1491; we know this because the inscription on his gravestone tells us he died in 1543 in his 53rd year. He was very likely born in Basel but spent his infancy in Zürich, as various dedications among his works refer to both places. He began his musical life as a chorister in the itinerant Hofkapelle of the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I (whose portrait appears on the cover of this CD), where he quickly rose through the ranks to become a respected singer and Notist, a copier of music. Certainly he came to the attention of Isaac, the Court Composer: when Isaac was given his famous commission in 1508 by Constanz Cathedral to write the cycle of propers which were to become the Choralis Constantinus, it is now believed that the young Senfl worked on these with him at an earlier stage rather than merely being brought in to edit and copy them later. Following his time as a chorister Senfl found his way to Vienna, where, in common with many church musicians of the period, he trained for the priesthood and took minor orders. But when Isaac retired to Florence in 1514 in search of warmer weather and diplomatic work on behalf of Maximilian, Senfl stepped into his shoes as Court composer.

With Georg Slatkonia as his Kapellmeister and the choir building up a fine reputation, Senfl was poised for an exciting career. The Augsburg Reichstag in 1518 was his first major showcase; unfortunately it was the Emperor Maximilian's last public occasion, as he died on his way back to Vienna. The members of the Kapelle were not retained by the new Emperor, Charles V, and Senfl and his friends thus had to seek appointments elsewhere. As his pension agreement required him to wait four years before accepting another post, Senfl used this time writing music for prospective patrons and publishing an important collection of music, the Liber Selectarum Cantionum of 1520. In 1523 he accepted a post at the Bavarian Ducal Chapel of Wilhelm IV in Munich. It was here that his greatest motet collections were produced, some copied out from those at the Imperial Chapel and many written specially for Wilhelm and for Duke Albrecht of Prussia who also became his patron.

Much has been written about whether Senfl had Reformist sympathies. There is a small amount of correspondence extant from Martin Luther to Senfl from 1530, but it is entirely concerned with music and with a commission Luther gave Senfl after hearing his music and admiring it. While it is likely that Senfl respected Luther and agreed with some of his ideas for reforming the Catholic Church, in retrospect it is possible to see that neither of them wholly wanted to form a new church, unlike some of their more radical colleagues, on whom Senfl turned his back. Senfl, like many of his contemporaries, decided to leave the priesthood in order to marry and start a family, particularly as he had made his career in music, not the church. This he had done by 1530, but his wife must have died: he had married again before his daughter was born in 1537. His last years were spent in frantic editing activity and he was clearly finding it difficult to keep up with new commissions. He died in the spring of 1543, and his tombstone was inscribed in Latin rather than German, which for that period and his milieu denoted a man of some importance.

Adapted with permission from a new biography on Senfl by Kathleen Berg, The Swiss Orpheus: an appraisal of the life and music of Ludwig Sennfl (1489/91-1543), Peacock Press, 2009.


This recording highlights Senfl's mastery of the many musical styles within which he worked. The centrepiece is his Missa Paschalis (or Easter Mass), scored for five voices including two equal upper parts. Following earlier traditions, the Kyrie and Gloria [1 & 2] and the Sanctus and Agnus Dei [6 & 7] are paired, though it would appear that the latter set was extracted from another of Senfl's masses. Each pair are in different modes, and while the Kyrie and Gloria are based on the chant for Easter Day, the chant present in the Sanctus and Agnus Dei is assigned to Sundays in Advent and Lent, hence their separation on this recording. Senfl's Mass is open to many interpretations regarding instrumentation and performance. Numerous woodcuts from the period indicate that early German music (sacred and secular) was often accompanied by cornetts and sackbuts and this solution is explored here. Certainly when the plainsong cantus firmus is present in each movement the composed voices surrounding that part become more animated and more instrumental in character - and the mixture of full choir, solo voices and instruments heard here seems to provide a satisfactory series of contrasts within what could otherwise be a full, and perhaps relentless texture.

The other choral works include Senfl's famous re-working of Josquin's 4-part Ave Maria into a grand 6-part motet [11], where one of the inner voices (here played by a solo shawm) repeats the opening phrase as a compositional anchor to the entire work. Senfl's part-writing is dense, (though the musical fingerprints of Josquin's original are clearly heard throughout) and this complexity suggests that the work is one of the most industrious of the many tributes to Josquin from the period. Quis dabit oculis [16] is attributed to Senfl in a printed edition of 1538. The music was actually composed by Costanzo Festa, but the motet was lightly reworked for performance, probably by Senfl himself, at Emperor Maximilian's funeral in 1519.

Standing in stark contrast to the sacred works are Senfl's secular songs. Again several performance options are here possible. For the bass songs cornetts and sackbuts take the upper voices leaving the tune at the bottom of the texture to the soloist; the three songs recorded here [3, 10, 14] follow familiar themes of unrequited love and the chase. The tenor songs are accompanied by gothic harp, which is most effective in decorating the chant-like melodies of Ich stuend an einem Morgen [9] and the popular Italian song Fortuna desperata [15]. Totally different in character and mood is the boisterous and often 'blue' setting of Senfl's most infamous song Im Maien [5], which, rather than following more traditional themes of courtship, boldly highlights the 'kill'!

The harp solos and songs were recorded in the chapel of Sidney Sussex College, during Andrew Lawrence-King's residency in Cambridge, while the remaining pieces were recorded in the church of St Emmeram in the town of Regensburg (not far from Augsburg where Senfl was a chorister). The Choir and Obsidian Records are most grateful to Herr Christof Hartmann of the Regensburger Domspatzen and the community of St Emmeram for their help and support in realising this project.

David Skinner
Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge

Kyrie eleyson.
Christe eleyson.
Kyrie eleyson.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Gloria in excelsis Deo. Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. Laudamus te. Benedicimus te. Adoramus te. Glorificamus te. Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam. Domine Deus, rex celestis, Deus pater omnipotens. Domine fili unigenite, Iesu Christe. Domine Deus, agnus Dei, filius patris. Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram. Qui sedes ad dexteram patris, miserere nobis. Quoniam tu solus sanctus. Tu solus Dominus. Tu solus altissimus, Jesu Christe. Cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei patris. Amen.

Glory be to God on high. And in earth peace towards men of good will. We praise thee. We bless thee. We worship thee. We glorify thee. We give thanks unto thee for thy great glory. O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty. O Lord, the only-begotten Son Jesus Christ. O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father. Thou that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Thou that sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For thou only art holy. Thou only art the Lord. Thou only, O Jesus Christ, art most High. With the Holy Ghost, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

So ich sie dann freundlich grüeß',
sie dankt mire mit Worten süeß,
tuet mich lieb lich anblikken.
Ach Glück, tue es bald schikken,
das ich ihr dien' in ewig' Zeit:
das wär' allzeit mein' höchste Freud'.

When I greet her kindly
She thanks me with sweet words
and regards me fondly
Ah, may Fortune grant that it will soon come to pass
That I may serve her for evermore:
That would be ever my greatest joy.

Im Maien, im Maien hört man die Hahnen kraien.
Freu' dich, du schönes Bauernmeidl, wir wölln den Haber saien.
Du bist mir lieber denn der Knecht,
du tuest mir meine alte Recht.
Pumb, Maidlein, pumb!
Ich freu' mich dein ganz umb und umb,
wo ich freundlich zue dir kumm,
hinter dem Ofen und umb und umb.
Freu' dich, du schönes Bauernmaidl: ich kumm! [x10 in song...!]

In May, in May we hear the cockerels crow
Rejoice you pretty peasant maid, it's time for us to sow our oats
You are dearer to me than the farmhand
You give me my ancient right
Boom little maid boom
I take pleasure in all of you from every side
wherever I come to you bringing love
behind the oven and every which way
Rejoice, you pretty little peasant maid, here I come!

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus: Dominus Deus Sabbaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra, gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.

Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis.

Holy, Holy, Holy: Lord God of Sabbaoth.
Heaven and earth are full of thy glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Agnus Dei
Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us thy peace.

Ich stuend an einem Morgen
heimlich an einem Ort,
da hätt' ich mich verborgen,
ich hort klägliche Wort
von einem Fräulein,
hübsch und fein
Sie sprach zue ihrem Buehlen:
"Es meußt gescheiden sein."
""Ich mueß in fremde Lande,
tuet meinem Herzen weh.
Buet mire dein' weisse Hande.
Ich sich dich nimmer meh.
Geseg'n dich Gott, mein's Herzen Kron'.
Ich dank dir deiner Trüwe,
die du mir hast geton.""

One morning I stopped stealthily in a place that concealed me. I
heard a pretty and fine young woman lamenting. She spoke to her

We must part. I have to go away to a foreign country
though it breaks my heart. Give me your white hands, for I shall never see you
again. May God bless you, crown of my heart I thank you for the stradfastness
you showed me.

Wöhl auf, wir wöllen's wecken,
dann es ist an der Zeit,
daß wir sie nit erschreken,
wo Lieb' bei Liebe leit.

Ich hort ein Wasser fleißen,
ich meint', es wär' der Rhein.
Zwei braune Äuglein schießen
der Lieb'n zuem Fenster ein.

Ich brach drei Lilienblättlein,
ich warf ihr's zuem Fenster ein:
"Schlafest du oder wachest?
Steh' auf [, feins Lieb,] unt laß' mich ein!"

Arise we must awake them
(For it is time when)
So that we do not startle them
Where lover lies with lover.
I heard water flowing
And thought it was the Rhine
Two little brown eyes dart
At their love through the window.
I brought three lily leaves
And threw them to her through the window
Are you awake or are you asleep?
Get up dear love and let me in!

Ave Maria
Ave Maria, gratia plena,
Dominus tecum, virgo serena.

Ave cuius conceptio,
Solemni plena gaudio.
Caelestia, terrestria
Nova replet laetitia.

Ave cuius nativitas,
Nostra fuit solemnitas,
Ut Lucifer lux oriens
Verum solem praeveniens.

Ave pia humilitas,
Sine viro fecunditas,
Cuius annunciatio
Nostra fuit salvatio.

Ave vera virginitas,
Immaculata castitas,
Cuius purificatio
Nostra fuit purgatio.

Ave praeclara omnibus
Angelicis virtutibus,
Cuius fuit assumptio
Nostra glorificatio.

O mater Dei, memento mei.

Hail Mary, full of grace,
may the Lord be with thee, O serene Virgin.

Hail, whose conception,
full of solemn joy, fills the heaven, the earth,
with new rejoicing.

Hail, whose birth was our solemn feast,
as the light-bringing rising sun
didst thou come before the true sun.

Hail, blessed humility,
fertility without a man,
whose annunciation was our salvation.

Hail, true virginity,
unspotted chastity,
whose purification was our purging.

Hail, foremost with all angelic virtues,
whose assumption was our glorification.

O Mother of God, remember me. Amen.

So man lang macht,
betracht't und acht't
viel Kurzweil treibt,
in Freuden bleibt,
ist gwohnlich das
und allweg was:
Vielbesser und ohn' Sorgen
ein Abend dann drei Morgen.

Daß dem so sei,
spürt man gar frei
des Abends Zeit.
Viel mehr die Leut'
in Freud' wegen,
Weisheit pflegen
in allem unverborgen
des Abends dann am Morgen.

Schickt' sich nit wol,
daß man tuen soll
gselliglich' Ding',
wann nit so ring
dieselben gschäh'n,
würd' nit geseh'n
mancherlei der Leut' Sitten,
blieb' groß' Kurzweil vermitten.

When one lies at rest
brooding and pondering,
diverts oneself merrily
keeping joyful -
it is generally so
and always was:
far better without cares
one evening than three mornings.

That this is so
one sees without trouble
at evening time:
far more do people
go about in joy,
do the wise thing
in every respect and openly,
in the evening than in the morning.

If it was not fitting
that one should make merry
in company ,
because such things
might not be done so easily,
then one would not see
so much of people's ways,
and great entertainment would be avoided.

Fortuna desperata
Fortuna desperata
iniqua e maledetta,
che de tal donna eletta
la fama ai denegata.

Wretched fortune,
wicked and cursed,
who has undone the reputation
of so fine a lady.

Quis dabit oculis
Quis dabit oculis nostris fontem lacrymarum et plorabimus coram Domino?
Germania, quid ploras? Musica, cur siles?
Austria, cur induta veste reproba moerore consumeris?

Heu nobis, Domine, defecit nobis Maximilianus!
Gaudium cordis nostri conversum est in luctum,
cecidit corona capitis nostri.

Ergo ululate pueri, plorate sacerdotes,
lugite cantores, plangite milites, et dicite:
Maximilianus requiescat in pace.

Who will give our eyes the fount of tears, and shall we week before the Lord? Germania, what is it you weep for? Music, why are you silent? Austria, why are you consumed with lamentation in an ignoble garb?

Alas upon us, O Lord, Maximilianus is lost to us. The joy of our heart is turned to lamentation; the crown of our head has fallen.

Therefore howl, boys; prelates weep; cantors lament, soldiers and nobles[1] bewail it and say: Maximilianus rest in peace.

[1] Discantus and Bassus parts: 'plangite milites' / Contratenor and Tenor parts: 'plangite nobiles'.

German translations by Dr Mark Chinca. Obsidian Records is very grateful to Dr Christopher Page, Professor Rosamond McKitterick, Dr Robert Busch, Professor Barry Nisbet, Jenny Morgan,Rachel Dilworth and Sandra Kohlmeyer who helped in various ways with translations of the texts.

Directed by David Skinner

Sidney Sussex rose from the ruins of a Franciscan Friary in 1596 and has long been a nest for professional musicians. One of the earliest was the Royalist pamphleteer, author, and violist Roger L'Estrange (1616-1704), whose family were patrons of the composer John Jenkins. Earlier still, the great Elizabethan composer William Byrd would have been well-known to the foundress, Lady Frances Sidney; two very fine elegies by Byrd survive for her nephew, the poet and courtier Sir Philip Sidney. The College now boasts one of the finest mixed choirs in Cambridge, which has recently made a niche in making professional recordings for specialist markets, including museums, art galleries, and national libraries. The Choir sings evensong during University terms, gives regular concerts and tours at home and abroad, and records exclusively for Classical Communications and Obsidian Records.

David Skinner is known primarily for his combined role as a researcher and performer of early music, and is Fellow, Director of Studies and the Osborn Director of Music at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and an Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of Music. He teaches historical and practical topics from the medieval and renaissance periods. From 1997 to 2001 he was a Postdoctoral Fellow of the British Academy at Christ Church, Oxford (where he was a Choral Scholar from 1989 to 1994), and was the Lecturer in Music at Magdalen College, Oxford, from 2001 to 2006. At Cambridge he conducts the Choir of Sidney Sussex College, with whom he has toured and made professional recordings (their CD of Thomas Tomkins on the Obisidian label, of which he is Artistic Director, received Gramophone Editor's Choice and CD of the Month in February 2008). He also directs the professional consort Alamire (www.alamire.co.uk). David has published widely on music and musicians of early Tudor England, and his most recent projects include the collected works of Nicholas Ludford (Early English Church Music, 2003 & 2005) and The Arundel Choirbook (Duke of Norfolk: Roxburghe Club, 2003). He is currently editing the Latin church music of John Sheppard for publication in 2009, and co-authoring a book on Foundations of the English Choral Tradition.

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