Posted by: rbbadger | February 19, 2011

Drums n’ Chant?

The Benedictine Abbey of Münsterschwarzach is a large Benedictine monastery which belongs of the Ottilien Congregation of Benedictines.  In the 1980s, under the direction of Father Godehard Joppich, O.S.B., they made a number of well-received recordings of Gregorian chant, some of which are still in print.  While they never achieved the fame of the recordings of those of the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos, their recordings are technically proficient and in some senses preferable to those of the well-marketed Spaniards.

Crossover has been a big thing in classical recording in recent years.  In fact, on some of the classical labels, crossover albums were the only thing they were doing for some time.  A talented Austrian percussionist by the name of Martin Grubinger has recently put together a recording using those older recordings made in the 1980s and combining them drums, a bass guitar, and other instruments.

I’ve listened to the recording and I am still not impressed by it.  I am impressed by the singing of the monks.  And while Martin Grubinger and musicians who worked with him on this album show a certain degree of skill, I am not certain that the chant needs this added accompaniament.  It is perfectly fine on its own.

Gregorian Chant really doesn’t need accompaniament, though in many churches bereft of acoustic warmth, an organ accompaniament would indeed help.  I think this recording only does violence to the chant, interesting though the project may be at first. 

If you want to read more about the album, you can click here.


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