New Editions of Stadlmayr and Volckmar


Johann Stadlmayr. "Canzon in a [a tre]." From Philomela coelestis. For two recorders (violin, cornettos) and Basso Continuo. Edited by Markus Eberhardt. Magdeburg: Edition Walhall, 2013. EW777.

Tobias Volckmar. "Schmücket das Fest mit Maien." Geistliches Konzert für Sopran, Trompete & Streicher. Edited by Klaus Hofmann. Magdeburg: Edition Walhall, 2014. EW814.

Tobias Volckmar. "Lobet den Herren, ihr seine Engel." Geistliches Konzert für Sopran, Trompete & Streicher. Edited by Klaus Hofmann. Magdeburg: Edition Walhall, 2014. EW818.

Founded in 1993, the Magdeburg-based Edition Walhall consistently proves to be a publishing firm dedicated to lesser-known repertoire from long-neglected composers. They offer reliable Urtext-style scores and parts devoid of editorial minutia, but with brief informative prefaces that leave the curious early-musician wanting to know more. Although a good portion of their catalogue is devoted to string and keyboard music, in recent years Edition Walhall has made significant headway in publishing relatively unfamiliar and unrecorded brass compositions. Three recent publications by two underrepresented composers, Johann Stadlmayr (ca. 1575–1648) and Tobias Volckmar (1678–1756), point to their increasing attention to historical brass repertoire.

Stadlmayr's Canzon in a, edited by Markus Eberhardt, originally appeared in a 1624 Munich collection entitled Philomela coelestis, compiled by the Jesuit musician George Victorinus (ca. 1570–1639). The canzona, scored for two unspecified treble voices and basso continuo, is one of the few untexted compositions in a collection comprised mostly of sacred vocal music. (Digital facsimiles of the part books appear on the Bayerische StaatsbibliothekWebsite.) By no means as technically challenging or inventive as works with similar scoring by, say, Fontana or Salomon Rossi, this canzon contributes only slightly to our understanding of Stadlmayr's reputation as an important Kapellmeister in Salzburg and Innsbruck. None other than Michael Praetorius praised him for being both an excellent performer and contrapuntist. (Despite the comment, it is difficult to ignore the clunky parallel fourths, with a 9th sounding against the bass, which appear twice during prominent cadential approaches. I doubt they were intended to be radically expressive statements.)

Not more than a few minutes in performing duration, Stadlmayr's instrumental composition would be served well by placing it alongside the more varied vocal works found in Victorinus's Philomela coelestis. To date, no complete modern edition of the entire collection exists, and after being treated to the snippet that the Stadlmayr canzona represents, performers might urge the editor and publisher to bring forth a complete version of Philomela coelestis. (The instrumental works from this source have already appeared in an 1976 edition from Hieber called Müncher Canzonen.)A complete modern publication would help garner greater interest in Stadlmayr and his little-discussed contemporaries -- names including Kurzinger, Krumper, Hartman, and Perckhouer. More should be heard from these sacred musicians, who, working in Catholic-oriented Germany and Austria, possessed a distinctly Venetian contrapuntal accent.

Editor Klaus Hofmann in another Walhall series, this one with the polyglottous header "Monarca della Tromba / Musik der Fürstenhöfe," presents two sacred arias for trumpet, soprano and string orchestra by Tobias Volckmar, who primarily worked in Danzig, Stettin, and Hirschberg (now Jelenia Góra, Poland) as a choirmaster and organist. On the whole Volckmar's approach to the trumpet displays neither the technical extremes nor the lyricism heard in music by contemporaries Telemann, Handel and J. S. Bach. Seldom venturing into the upper reaches of the clarino register nor daring into the frontiers of chromaticism, Volckmar's solo trumpet is firmly rooted upon idiomatic traits: standard martial motives, repeating triadic outlines, with the occasional rapid-fire diatonic passaggi in imitation or anticipation of the vocal line. Regardless of Volckmar's conservative compositional style, the trumpet does figure prominently in both arias. Volckmar inventively employs sonorous combinations, alternately pairing the trumpet with voice, then with violin 1, and even with viola in ever shifting contrapuntal textures.

The text for "Schmücket das Fest mit Maien" derives from Psalm 118:27 (A section) and Romans 5:5 (B section). A rough English translation—not provided in the edition—reads: "With boughs in hand, join the Feast / up to the horns of the altar. Because the love of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us." It is set as a da capo aria with the first section in common time and the contrasting B section turning to 6/8 in g minor. The second sacred aria, "Lobet den Herren, ihr seine Engel," derives from Psalm 103: 20-21 and reads: "Praise the Lord, you His angels that excel in strength, that follow His commandment in hearing the voice of His word. / Praise the Lord all ye His hosts, ye His servants that do His will." This aria, unlike the previous one, isa large-scale binary form, diverging from Italianate da capo traditions. Volckmar again changes meter between sections; the abrupt rhythmic and stylistic switch from 3/4 to common time mirrors thePsalm text’s two contrasting lines.

It should be noted that both arias are originally in Bb major, an unusual key for baroque trumpet repertoire. Although it would have been exceedingly helpful to have the option, transpositions into C are not provided. Evidently Volckmar intended these works for a valveless Bb trumpet, and there the key must stay! In a modern-day early-music performance, this means the trumpeter might be found making an awkward crook change while the string players pause for a serious retuning.

If Volckmar's two sacred arias seem tame when compared to better known trumpet and soprano works from the High Baroque, then they also exhibit something satisfying in their solid construction and clear purpose. This is functional music concerned only with the proclamation of devotional joy, and it does exactly what it sets out to do. Moreover, the arias provide a welcome respite to the standard war horses so easily recognized by today's audiences. Trumpet and soprano soloists should add to their repertoire these Volckmar pieces. They are worthy additions to any celebratory musical setting, sacred or secular. Their scoring alone makes them attractive, since they feature what is arguably the most emotionally impactful and allegorically powerful sonic pairing that anyone could have heard in the baroque age.

-- Alexander Bonus, Bard College