Hosanna in excelsis · Music & Poetry in the Middle Ages

Cover: CD Release
Cover: Digital Music Album
EUR 22,00
Les Menestrels
Hosanna in excelsis

Music and Poetry from the spiritual world of the Middle Ages,
performed by the Ensemble for Early Music 'Les Menestrels'

Works by Gherardello de Florenzia (1310-1370), Guillaume de Machault (c. 1300-1377) Hermann, Münch von Salzburg (2nd part of 14th century), Heinrich von Mügeln (14th century), Guillaume Dufay (1400-1474), Alfonso el Sabio (1221-1284), Johannes Bassart (middle of 15th century), Kolmarer Liederhandschrift (15th century), Oswald von Wolkenstein (c. 1377-1445), Nicolaus Apel (c. 1470-1537), Codex Montpellier (13th century), Codex Squarcialupi (14th century) et. al.

A concert recording from the church of the German
UNESCO World Heritage Site Maulbronn Monastery

HD Recording · DDD · c. 73 Minutes


Art Movie(s)

Work(s) & Performance


lay and pleasure are necessary to the sustenance of human life. However, all services useful to human sustenance must be regarded as permissible. Therefore, the services of menestrels, which are intended to provide cheer, are not a forbidden thing, provided that they are not in a state of sin, and they exercise moderation in their playing - namely that they use no hateful words and do not begin playing during work or at forbidden times. And those who support the menestrels are not committing sin! Rather, they deal justly when they give them for their services that which is their due.

"As stated above..."
from: Summa II, quaestio 168, Article 3
Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225 - 1274)


exts and music from the spiritual world of the European Middle Ages form the subject matter of this programme, which the Les Menestrels Ensemble has put together specially for this performance held in the monastery church at Maulbronn. One is astonished by the abundant variety of language and subject matter on offer here. Yet perhaps even more astonishing is the widespread, cross-border dissemination of a body of religious and cultural thought that flourished outside church walls. In today’s monotonous popular culture, shaped as it is by the dogma that what sells is what matters, cultural and human values no longer enjoy pride of place. Linguistic standardisation is pursued aggressively, and dialects, expressions and cultural resonances travel beyond regional borders in only the rarest of cases. In the song as cultivated in the Middle Ages, however, we find a linguistically multifaceted culture; one that is, in this sense, truly more European. Modern media have wrought little improvement. On the contrary, inquisitorial surveillance has found its match in the uniformity-enforcing filter of a profit-oriented business management "culture." The Church may well have imposed strict guidelines, as Klaus Walter describes in the notes below, but at least the themes that were the focus of artistic creation were those by which human beings are moved, and wit and subtlety challenged the human intellect.

Josef-Stefan Kindler


hile liturgical music, with its ties to the mass cycle, embodies a more or less uniform spiritual outlook from one stylistic epoch to another, non-liturgical sacred music presents a varied palette of expressive forms shaped by the most varied manifestations of religious thought. We have selected some of the most significant themes and complemented them with texts devoted to similar or related subject matter. Most of these themes speak for themselves. Worship of God, pleas for the forgiveness of sins and for divine benediction, cries for succour in various afflictions, devotion to the Virgin Mary and appeals for intercession: these require no explanation. One group of musical works, whose origins in a specific philosophical approach to religion—scholasticism—are not immediately apparent, may require some explanation.
The intellectual movement known as scholasticism does not present a uniform picture; common to all scholasticists, however, was the conviction that the mysteries of faith could be described or established by intellectual means. They were fascinated not only by logic, but also by arithmetic and geometry. Nikolaus Cusanus, for example, based his description of God on the concept of an unending straight line, and religious speculations brought Ramon Lull to the verge of discovering integral calculus (the "squaring of the circle"). From time immemorial, the principle of "order" has stood for the divine, for heaven; "disorder" is associated with the earthly realm, if not indeed with the infernal. A visual representation of plants with symmetrically arranged blossoms is a depiction of paradise. We know that we are earth-bound when plants grow irregularly. The movements of dancing angels always trace circles or other geometrical figures. Dancing devils move in a chaotic mass. Sinners may even dance upside down (depictions of Salome).
Numbers offered a means by which to establish order and, in the process, reclaim for oneself a bit of paradise. It is therefore no accident that many scholasticists engaged in study of the Kabala, the doctrine of the significance of number combinations. By imposing order on one’s conduct—or on a composition—one was able to create in miniature an image of heaven. The particular order imposed did not have to be readily discernible. A de facto order sufficed.
In the course of the fourteenth century, such thinking began to be reflected in music as well. It was most readily applicable to the motet, a form that had emerged already in the thirteenth century. The motet owed its very existence to an intellectual principle: An excerpt of Gregorian chant provided the tenor, which functioned as the composition’s foundation. It was identified with the sacred ("auf Gott sollst du bauen" [Thou shalt build upon God]), as it had been in the earlier organum of the Notre Dame school. The texts underlying the upper voices were sung simultaneously, yet differed from one another, sometimes even with respect to the languages they were written in. They were required, however, to hold references to one another and to the text of the tenor, even though the latter was usually suggested by a single word, if indeed the tenor was not simply delegated to an instrument, as was often the case. The upper voices (motetus and duplum) belonged to the worldly domain. In the motet "Aucun – Amor – Kyrie," the motetus conveys in Latin the view that carnal love incurs harm in all circumstances—certainly in this world, to say nothing of eternity. The duplum, however, asserts in the profane language (French) that love is a source of bliss for those who fulfil certain conditions. It is conceded, all the same, that but few human beings are capable of fulfilling these conditions, both voices joining in the tenor’s "Herr, erbarme dich unser" [Lord, have mercy upon us]. With the mystical poem by Mechthild von Magdeburg we have added to these two aspects of love a third.
The double hocket by Guillaume de Machaut is not, strictly speaking, a motet at all, as its upper two voices are textless. All the same, it is best thought of as belonging to this genre or, to be more precise, to that of the isorhythmic motet. The term ‘isorhythmic’ refers to a structural principle whereby rhythmic and melodic patterns are organised on the basis of numerical relationships. In the 14th century, it found its ideal application in the motet. The honour of being organised in this manner naturally fell to the tenor. The upper voices were seldom structured isorhythmically and, if they were, only in part (as in the mass by Guillaume de Machaut).
In this double hocket, the tenor melody is heard three times in the first section. The entire section is made up of eight rhythmically identical segments (each isorhythmic segment thus comprising three eighths of the tenor melody). In the second section, the tenor is assembled from the first four notes of every third isorhythmic segment in the first section, the tenor melody thereby assuming its original shape. The upper two voices are, even without texts, recognisably profane. Their movements, which appear to be without form or pattern, suggest two cogs with irregularly spaced teeth (the title itself refers to this type of motion: hocket < Fr. hoquet = ‘hiccup’). As though miraculously, these teeth nonetheless succeed in engaging one another, thanks to the iron grip of the inscrutable but well-ordered tenor, a simulacrum of the bond between God and the world.
It may be that Kabalistic number symbolism occasionally played a role in the isorhythmic motet, similar to the role it was recently demonstrated to have played in the compositions of J.S. Bach. This method of composition declined in importance towards the end of the 14th century; however, the motet principle, whereby a strictly defined role is assigned to each voice, continued to find expression in the cantus firmus technique, in which form it long retained its influence.
Much more space is devoted to the theme of the Virgin Mary as reflected in the musical and literary legacies, where it became virtually a subspecies of the minnesang. It is no accident that the minnesang and the cult of the Virgin Mary both reached their zenith at approximately the same time. Virgin Mary veneration also afforded poets and poet-composers certain advantages, some acknowledged, some no doubt unacknowledged. It allowed one, for example, to compose poems to a beloved lady under the guise of a Marian song. This is believed to have been the background to Petrarch’s "Vergine bella," for example. But the Virgin Mary theme also made it possible to introduce human, and therefore generally understandable, references to the otherwise often very abstract architecture of the religious edifice. The most varied of basic human impulses are addressed, such as the veneration of motherhood, or the pleasure in awe as expressed in tales of miracles performed by the Virgin Mary (Cantigas de Santa Maria). Alfonso el Sabio commanded his entire royal household of scholars, poets and musicians to gather every available report of such miracles, to put them into words and music, and to write them down. That a number of ethnocentric and anti-Semitic ideas also found their way into the results of these efforts did not seem to trouble him, for all that he had brought together at the university he founded in Cordoba—Christian, Jewish, and Arab scholars alike. But Mary is also celebrated in countless songs as a key to the patriarchy’s backdoor. The mother whose son cannot refuse her request, according to established custom, if she shows him her breast, and whose son for his part regains the power to appease the wrath of God the Father ("ladder of salvation"), is invoked as an intercessory. Most importantly, however, we should not overlook the fact that many of the Marian texts and songs count among the most beautiful of all the lyrical productions of the Middle Ages.

Klaus Walter



he Les Menestrels Ensemble was founded in 1963 by Klaus and Michel Walter. Their original involvement with the music of the 20th century eventually led to an interest in the structural polyphony of 14th and 15th-century music, as exemplified by the Ars Nova in particular. The works of this period continue to be the group’s main focus, although their repertoire has expanded to include works written up to about 1600. Their historical instrumentarium has gradually grown to enable as faithful a reproduction as possible of each period’s characteristic sound. Les Menestrels achieved their first major success at the 1965 Wiener Festwochen (Vienna International Festival) with their staged performance of the cantefable "Aucassin und Niclolete," for which H.C. Artmann contributed the translation. To programmes consisting entirely of concert music they subsequently added programmes with a literary thread, or those that included staged performances. The group has not entirely forgotten its origins in the contemporary music field, however. One of their programmes features a comparison of parallel aspects of old and new music. Depending on the programme, four to ten singers and instrumentalists participate in the ensemble’s concerts. They have access to some 70 historical instruments authentic to the period between 1200 and 1600.
Concerts and radio and television recording sessions have taken the ensemble to nearly every European country and to the USA, Canada and Japan. The ensemble has made recordings on the Westminster, Amadeo, Belvedere and Mirror Music labels. Les Menestrels have performed at festivals including the Vienna International Festival (Wiener Festwochen), the Salzburg Festival, the Festivales d‘España, the Festival Estival de Paris, the International Organ Week in Nuremberg, the Passau European Festival (Europäische Wochen Passau), the Lucerne International Music Festival, the Dubrovnik Festival, the Schwetzinger Festival, Music in Old Krakow, Festivals in Osijek, Flanders, Istanbul, Ljubljana, and Ochrid, the Maulbronn "Monastery Concerts," and many others.

Birgit Kurtz ~ Soprano · Florian Mayr ~ Countertenor · Kurt Kempf ~ Tenor · Erich Klug ~ Bass
Klaus Walter ~ Lute · Michel Walter ~ Cornetto · Eva Brunner ~ Descant Strings
Gebhard Chalupsky ~ Tubing Sheet Instruments

Series & Edition


ublishing Authentic Classical Concerts entails for us capturing and recording outstanding performances and concerts for posterity. The performers, audience, opus and room enter into an intimate dialogue that in its form and expression, its atmosphere, is unique and unrepeatable. It is our aim, the philosophy of our house, to enable the listener to acutely experience every facet of this symbiosis, the intensity of the performance, so we record the concerts in direct 2-Track Stereo digital HD. The results are unparalleled interpretations of musical and literary works, simply - audiophile snapshots of permanent value. Flourishing culture, enthralling the audience and last but not least also you the listener, are the values we endeavor to document in our editions and series.

The concerts at the UNESCO World Heritage Maulbronn Monastery supply the ideal conditions for our aspirations. It is, above all, the atmosphere of the romantic, candle-lit arches, the magic of the monastery in its unadulterated sublime presence and tranquillity that impresses itself upon the performers and audience of these concerts. Renowned soloists and ensembles from the international arena repeatedly welcome the opportunity to appear here - enjoying the unparalleled acoustic and architectural beauty of this World Heritage Site, providing exquisite performances of secular and sacred music, documented by us in our Maulbronn Monastery Edition.

Andreas Otto Grimminger & Josef-Stefan Kindler, K&K Verlagsanstalt

Works, Movements & Tracklist

1. Concert start

2. Psalm 115: "Nicht uns, o Herr,
nicht uns..."
Kodex Nikolaus Apel (um 1470-1537)

3. Benedicamus Domino
Gregorianischer Choralabschnitt

4. Groß bist du, Herr...
aus: Confessiones, erstes Buch, Kapitel 1
Aurelius Augustinus (345-430)

5. Benedicamus Domino
St. Martial, Organum
anonymus (12. Jh.)

6. Ich liebe dich, Herr...
aus: Confessiones, zehntes Buch, Kapitel 6
Aurelius Augustinus (345-430)

7. Benedicamus Domino
Motettischer Satz
Ghirardellus de Florenzia (14. Jh.)

8. Wenn ich scheine mußt Du leuchten...
Mechthild von Magdeburg (1210-1283)

9. Aucun - Amor - Kyrie
Kodex Montpellier, Motette
anonymus (13. Jh.)

10. "A" setzen wir, das ist
unser Herr und Gott...
aus: "Ars maior" (1273), Über die Figur "A"
Ramon Lull

11. Tribulatio proxima est
Doppelhoquetus über dem Tenor "David"
Guillaume de Machault (um 1300-1377)

12. Oh Himmel-König...
Der Kanzler (um 1300)

13. Christe - Veni creator - Tribulatio
Geistliche Motette
Guillaume de Machault (um 1300-1377)

14. O Mensch, bezeichnet und geziert
mit Gottes Ebenbild...
Meditation über die menschliche Natur
zugeschrieben: Bernhard von Clairvaux (1091-1153)

15. Nova laude, terra, plaude...
Benedicamustropus, Benedictinerinnenkloster, Konstanz
anonymus (um 1300)

16. Omnis mundus - Omnes nunc
anonymus (14. Jh.)

17. Wie uns die Heiligen helfen
St. Paulis Regeln für die Pauren
Aus dem Liederbuch der Clara Hätzlerin (1471)

18. Arcangel San Miguel...
Dreistimmiger Satz über ein Volkslied
aus: Cancionero musical del Palacio
Lope de Baena (um 1500)

19. Der heilige Erzengel Michael
aus dem Handbuch der Heiligen

20. St. Martein, lieber Herre...
Hermann, Münch von Salzburg (2. Hälfte 14. Jh.)

21. Quem terra, pontus, aethera...
Ambrosianischer Marienhymnus
Zisterzienser-Stift Heiligenkreuz (um 1300)

22. Durch die Frau kam das Übel -
durch die Frau kam das Gute...
Ambrosius von Mailand (gest. 397)
Predigt XLV

23. Ad laudes marie cantemus hodie...
Benedictinerinnenkloster, Konstanz
Gregorianischer Conductus (12. Jh.)

24. Einen gekrönten reien...
Kolmarer Liederhandschrift
Heinrich von Mügeln (um 1350)

25. Sancho Pansa: "Und hätte ich
auch nichts anderes..."
aus Don Quijote
Miguel Cervantes (1547-1616)

26. Praeludio: "Santa Maria amar..."
aus: "Cantigas de Santa Maria"
Alfonso el Sabio (reg. 1252 - 1284)

27. Gran dereit...
aus: "Cantigas de Santa Maria"
Alfonso el Sabio (reg. 1252 - 1284)

28. Nachdem der Heide alle Darlegungen
angehört hatte...
aus: Das Buch vom Heiden und den drei Weisen (1275)
Ramon Lull

29. O flos flagrans...
Codex Aosta (Geistliches Chanson)
Jean Brassart (15. Jh.)

30. Vergine bella...
Trienter Kodices (Chanson), Text Petrarca
Guillaume Dufay (1400-1474)

31. Ave mater o maria...
Wiener und Innsbrucker Wolkensteinhandschrift
Oswald von Wolkenstein (um 1377-1445)

32. Predigt: "Der Tanz ist ein Ring
oder Zirkel, des Mittel der Teufel ist..."
"corea est circulus cuius centrum est diabolus..."
Deutsche Übertragung aus einer Wiener Handschrift des 15. Jahrhunderts
Hieronymus von Prag (1416 in Konstanz verbrannt)

33. Chaldivaldi
Tanz aus einer Vysehrader Handschrift (14. Jh.)

34. "Wie schon oben gesagt..."
aus: Summa II, quaestio 168, Artikel 3
Thomas von Aquin (um 1225-1274)

Recorded to 'Direct 2-Track Stereo Digital HD' in a concert at the church of the German UNESCO World Heritage Site Maulbronn Monastery, recorded, released and created by Andreas Otto Grimminger & Josef-Stefan Kindler in cooperation with Jürgen Budday, Klosterkonzerte Maulbronn ('Maulbronn Monastery Concerts').

Concert Date:
Juni 5, 2005

Sound & Recording Engineer:
Andreas Otto Grimminger

Mastering & Production:
Andreas Otto Grimminger & Josef-Stefan Kindler

Photography, Artwork & Coverdesign:
Josef-Stefan Kindler

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