Manfred Barbarini Lupus

Cantus coagulatus - vierstimmige Kompositionen für Messe und Offizium für das Kloster St. Gallen (um 1560)


In festo Sancti Galli ad vesperas; Ad missam; In festo Sancti Othmari; In festo Beati Notkeri.


What is special about Barbarini’s compositions is not their polyphony in itself, but how they are presented. Except in a few cases, the plainchant on which each piece is based is notated in Gothic neumes in the tenor part, while the surrounding parts – Discantus, Altus and Bassus – are written in white mensural notation. The rhythm of the tenor is such that every note of the plainchant is given in equal semibreves. This special form of composition and notation was not an invention of Barbarini’s, nor of St Gallen. It is already documented in tracts and certain compositions (such as in the Jena Choirbook 35) from around 1500. So what are we to think of the use of this seemingly old-fashioned compositional method in around 1560 in St. Gallen? The tradition of Franco-Flemish composition was certainly well known in St. Gallen. The organ tablature of the St. Gallen organist Fridolin Sicher (1490–1546, Codex 530) that was written between 1512 and 1521 offers proof of the kind of religious and secular compositions that were used in the monastery, as does Sicher’s Songbook of 1545 (Codex 461). So the style of the Barbarini codices was not a result of ignorance, but a conscious decision, one we should see in the context of the tensions between the monastery’s own long traditions, the compositional innovations of the 16th century, and the endeavours of the humanists and the Counter-Reformation in the context of the Council of Trent.


Manfred Barbarini Lupus (um 1560)


Ensemble Ordo Virtutum; Stefan Johannes Morent, Gesamtleitung

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MGB CD 6286

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