No actual record exists of the music played at Martin Luther's wedding to Katharina von Bora in 1525, but, as annotator Peter Schmucker points out in the booklet to this fine release, it would be impossible for today's listeners to hear the music with 16th century ears even if there were. The innovative early music group Capella de la Torre and its leader Katharina Bäuml take a preferable course in speculating based on Luther's numerous and documented musical interests what might have been played. The program is unique, probably covering a greater variety of Renaissance genres than have been heard on any other single recording. Bäuml imagines the sequence of events -- Ceremony and Wedding Feast, further subdivided into Fanfare, Mass, Epistle in the former section and dinner music, Play, and Dance in the latter -- and picks music to match. Along the line you get to hear some pan-European hits by Josquin and others and a mixture of religious music, and at the end there's a set of dances pertaining to the question of how Germans of Luther's time liked to party. For the mixture of sacred and secular music alone, probably the norm in many Renaissance ceremonial situations, the album makes a valuable contribution. The performances by Capella de la Torre have some guts to them, and the entire program is evocative of what is it is supposed to represent, not an academic reconstruction. Not only a great aid to understanding how Renaissance music was used in context, this is a sheer pleasure to hear.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
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