Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (1508-1519) is known for many things. He established the Hapsburg Dynasty in Spain, wrested the Empire from Papal control — and was a great patron of the arts. This release samples some of the music heard in Maximilian’s court.

Most of the works are chansons and lieder, leavened by some courtly dances. Many of the pieces have slow tempos. For me, the overall effect of the program seemed to create a blend of serenity, spirituality, and courtly reserve. And perhaps that was the point.

Per-Sonat delivers wonderfully luminous performances. The softness of the stringed instruments blends beautifully with Sabine Lutzenberger’s creamy mezzo-soprano. Some selections feature other voices: Achim Schulz, Richard Resch, Bernd Oliver Fröhlich (tenors), and Joel Frederiksen. The blend of voices introduces a little grit into the mix that I quite liked.

The composers are ones often featured on such recordings: Josquin des Prez, Heinrich Isaac, Johannes Ockeghem, and Adrian Willaert. But there were other, lesser-known composers such as Antoine de Févin and Paul Hofhaimer that added interest.

Overall, I think Per-Sonat successfully depicted the court of Maximilian I or at least one aspect of it. If you’re familiar with the woodcut panels Maximilian commissioned from Albrecht Dürer or Hans Burgkmair, these works complement those images nicely.

Kaiser Maximilian I: Lieder, Chansons, Tanze
Per-Sonat; Sabine Lutzenberger, director
Christophorus