Mary always played an important role in sacral music, e.g. in the four marianic antiphons (Salve Regina, Regina Coeli, Ave Regina Coelorum and Alma Redemptoris Mater), the Magnificat and the Stabat Mater. The Ave Maria is also one of the Mary-poems and belongs in the fundamental catholic prayers. At the end of the 16th century, the textual shape as know today was completed.
The word settings of the Ave Maria by Charles Gounod ("Meditation" on the first prelude of Bach's Well-Tempered Piano), and by Schubert ("Ellen's Gesänge" [Chants] after the novel "The Lady of The Lake" by Scott) are more or less known as folksy. Less known, however, is that many composers from different eras and regions dealt with the "Ave Maria" theme. The "Bielefelder Katalog Klassik" (Bielefeld Catalogue Classic) in the 2/1998 edition names 23 productions under the title key word "Ave Maria", but only one of them contains nearly exclusively compositions carrying this name: The CD "Ave Maria im Spiegel der Zeiten (Ave Maria through the ages), Volume 1", published by SICUSKlassik in 1998. With this production, the music lovers were provided for the first time with an anthology of Ave Maria word settings from different epochs and regions.
This CD solely contains interpretations for mezzo-soprano and organ — some of them as arrangements. For these recordings the following churches were chosen:
The Altenberger Dom near Cologne with the romantic Klais-organ of 1980, and the Brüdernkirche St. Ulrici in Braunschweig with the Steinmann-organ completed in 1991.
The CD "Ave Maria im Spiegel der Zeiten (Ave Maria through the ages), Volume 2", published in 1999, contains further word settings of the Latin original, supplemented by additional Gebete an die Jungfrau Maria (Prayers to the Virgin Mary), such as opera arias by Verdi and Wagner, furthermore compositions by Mascagni for Adelina Patti after the intermezzo from "Cavalleria Rusticana", word settings from a prayer by Michael Lermontov composed by Mussorgsky and Warlamov, and finally French versions of the Ave Maria by Langlais and Jean-Baptiste Fauré. In addition to the places of recording used for Vol. 1, the Braunschweig Dom St. Blasii with the Schuke-organ of 1962 was selected.
For the compositions of both recordings the original languages, German, French, Italian and Russian were chosen — expressively interpreted by the mezzo-soprano Ingeborg Hischer and the organist Hans-Dieter Karras.