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CD Feature: Capella Antiqua Bambergensis: "Musik für Kaiser und Könige"

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The Capella Antiqua Bambergensis is specialized in ancient music. The ensemble consits of six members, all professional, educated musicans, who already performed on several other recordings (for MP3-samples visit the homepage The easily understood explanations in the enclosed booklet show the leader of the ensemble, Wolfgang Spindler, as a practical man: Being well versed in the theoretical and historical basics of ancient music, he reveals a lot of interesting details on their art.

And although most of the presented pieces are about 700 years old (one even nearly 1200), the listener will discover an unsuspected ‘modernity’, which does not go well with our expectations of 1000-year-old music. We really enter a conflict with the past, the present and ourselves and what we have learned to be past and present;  quite a lot of 20th century composers have made use of certain compositional techniques imitating ancient stylistics, in order to achive mystifying effects. These effects are nothing but – so to speak – a simulation of that very past by means of simplification and isolation. That kind of composed ‘stylistic predjudice’ can be found for example in Ravel’s and Honegger’s use of modal harmonies, Orffs’ and Strawinskys’ manic dances as well as the stereotypes of Gregorian chant in pieces by Hindemith and Gorecki. It’s the pretence of the old.
But now, concerning the perfomances of the Capella Antiqua Bambergensis, the listener will be surprised: The spectrum of peculiarities goes from microtonal uses, from moments of nearly punctual orchestration up to reminicences of oriental and indian sounds; everything in a meditative pppp as well as in a barbarian fff. The formal structures are strange, too: We find minimal structures, disoriented melodies, additive rhythmic patterns, hypnotic repeats, bizzare scales and nearly serial moments. It’s the presence of the old which somehow appears new to our ears.

All these odd moments lead to a marvellous paradox: The Dark Ages seem no less modern than the modern age itself. Twentieth century composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann called this artisic phenomenon „Kugelgestalt der Zeit“ ("spherical form of time"): The concurrence of past, present and future (In: "Intervall und Zeit") through and in man’s consciousness.
This recording can give you an access to old and to new music: Enjoying history and realizing the present.

by Jan Giffhorn

Homepage: Capella Antiqua Bambergensis

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