Of the many fascinating releases put out by the Naxos label, “Time of the Templars” stands out as an especially creative idea that draws from their back catalog. The recording seeks to create a narrative from the music that the medieval crusaders known as the Knights Templar might have heard as they traveled across Europe and the Near East, ultimately arriving at Jerusalem. Each of the three recordings in the set has a guiding theme: Music for a Knight, for the Church, and of the Mediterranean. It begins with Christian music then moves on to programs from Jewish and Islamic traditions.
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon was the official title of the Templars, who were founded at the beginning of the 12th Century, initially to guide the Pilgrims across Europe as they made their way to Jerusalem. The Catholic Church soon gave them official endorsement, increasing their popularity.
The Knights Templar were, in fact, a favored charity throughout Europe. As their popularity grew, their wealth rose along with their numbers. They often received money, businesses, land, and even the sons of noble families who were trained and sent on crusades. Over a period of nearly two centuries the Templars amassed incredible power and riches.
As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. And so it was for the Templars. Their power and wealth ultimately became the focal point of rival jealousy. They ceased to be in 1312 when Pope Clement V dissolved the order and had their assets confiscated. The Knights Templar, who once existed above the law, were now gone and their history turned into legend. Today, that legend lives on in popular culture and folklore.
Our new release of the week brings us the solo viola da gamba music of Carl Friedrich Abel from the Hyperion label. Entitled “Mr. Abel’s Fine Airs,” England-based gambist Susanne Heinrich offers a program of select pieces.