Joseph Balthasar Hochreither (1669-1731) from a family of Salzburg court musicians, was appointed briefly as organist at the Benedictine convent in Nonnberg before taking up his position for life in Lambach in 1694 where he remained until 1721. Almost all of his 21 works to have survived were composed during this period, with the exception of the festival mass on this recording dating from the year 1731. Hochreither was appointed as cathedral chapter organist in Salzburg in 1721. He died on 14 December 1731 in the city of his birth and was buried in the St Peter cemetery.
In 2002, the entire archives of Lambach Abbey were relocated and modernised and the works of the highly talented house composer immediately caught the attention of the musical archivist. The first edition of a large-scale mass (Missa ad multos annos, 1705) was then issued and subsequently recorded on CD by Gunar Letzbor. Motivated by the majestic beauty of this newly discovered work, Ars Antiqua Austria were keen to make further compositions by Hochreither accessible to the general public and therefore prepared the works included on this recording for CD and concert performance.
"This mass is Hochreither’s masterwork; a magnificent tonal painting celebrates the greatness of God. Dance-like folk rhythms delight the soul and tender, introspective passages (for example in the Benedictus) encourage meditation and prayer...The bass soloist is instructed by the composer to sing “the Tuba mirum, item the Lacrimosa […] through a ‘Rödtrohr’”.
This mysterious recommendation nagged at me and kept me awake at night. Dr. Peter Deinhammer, the academic supervisor of the Lambach Abbey archives, presumed that the singer should sing through a type of funnel (such as a rolled up sheet of music). I was however not particularly convinced by the tonal results of this experiment. ...I removed some plastic drainpipe elements from our garden house.
We had incredible fun during our recording session, experimenting with a variety of piping lengths to achieve the optimum tonal result... The magnificent highlight of the concluding concert following the recording sessions was provided by the appearance of the bass soloist with his drainpipe!" Gunar Letzbor