Tuneful and touching church cantatas from the end of the 18th century in their first and only recordings.
The German-born Christian Friedrich Ruppe (1753-1826) made his career in the Dutch city of Leiden, where he had originally arrived in 1773 as a student of mathematics and literature. In 1784 he married Christina Chalon (1748-1808), the daughter of the lead violinist the of the Nederlands Theater in Amsterdam. In 1890 he was appointed as music director of the city’s renowned and ancient university, and from 1802 he taught theory of music there, having in 1788 become organist of the city’s principal Lutheran Church.
In 1796 an orphanage choir was founded in Leiden on Ruppe’s initiative, consisting of girls and boys from the Holy Spirit or Poor Orphanage and Children's Home near the church. During the following church year he then composed a pair of cantatas on anonymous Dutch texts, designed for the orphanage choir. Despite their musical richness and evident beauties, the scores remained in the archives of the orphanage, only to be rediscovered in 1987. Two centuries after their first performance, they received the recordings reissued here by an accomplished team of experienced Dutch early-music performers.
While comparing the cantatas to the music written by Handel for the Foundling Hospital would not flatter Ruppe, his music nonetheless exhibits many charms of its own: unfailingly graceful phrasing, for one, fresh melodic charm and sympathetic writing for voices. There appears to be a clear Haydnesque imprint to both works, but operatic models are more evident in the sinfonia that opens the Christmas Cantata as well as the style of the dramatic recitatives which move along each development of the familiar story. The work concludes with a trumpet-and-drum chorus in the style of oratorios such as Messiah and The Creation, whereas the language of the Easter music is more rooted in Protestant tradition, rising to the grand harmonisation of an Easter chorale designed for singing by the choir and entire congregation. Any listener keen to expand their knowledge of Classical-era sacred music will find here an album to savour.
Christian Friedrich Ruppe (1753-1826) was a German composer (from Thüringen) who in 1788 came to the Dutch city of Leiden, to boost its somewhat dwindled musical life. And this he did with full energy and zest. As musical director of the University and organist of the Lutheran Church he composed a wealth of sacred music, but also catered for the upcoming middle class’ need for domestic music, such as chamber music, Romances for voice and piano and illustrative piano works (with fancy titles).
This recording presents Ruppe’s Christmas Cantata, as well as (a shorter) Easter Cantata: festive, brilliant and melodious music sung in Dutch, reminiscent of Haydn’s Schöpfung.
Excellent performance based on the Historically Informed Performance Practice, led by early music specialist Jed wentz and his Musica ad Rhenum (for the occasion extended with oboes, flutes, horns, trumpets, bassoon and timpani!), the vocal Ensemble Bouzignac and 4 excellent Dutch vocal soloists.
The booklet contains excellent liner notes in English and Dutch, as well as the original sung texts.
A reissue from the rich back catalogue of the NM Classics label, the label for Dutch music.