Richard Blackford

a new Lyrita
Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Nimbus on-line

Piano Trios
  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider

Free classical music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

British composers

  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo
  • Stellar debut<br>piano recital
  • Clarinet transcriptions Jonathan Cohler
  • Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio
  • French clarinet masterpieces
  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo

Shostakovich Symphony 10 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem

Dvorak Opera Premiere

Grieg, Mendelssohn sonatas




Would you like a hyperlinked weekly summary of the CDs we have reviewed?

Click for further details

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Plain text for smartphones
and printers

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Prima voce
Red Priest
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from:

Otto NICOLAI (1810 - 1849)
Herr, auf dich traue ich - Psalms
Liturgie Nr. 1:
Herr, sei uns gnädig/Kyrie eleison [1:13]
Ehre sei Gott/Und Friede [3:58]
Heilig, heilig, heilig [2:33]
Herr, ich habe lieb [2:22]
Der 100. Psalm (Jauchzet dem Herrn, alle Welt) [4:49]
Der 31. Psalm (Herr, auf dich traue ich) [9:32]
Der 84. Psalm (Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen) [5:34]
Der 97. Psalm (Der Herr ist König) [6:38]
Offertorium in Assumptione Beatae Mariae Virginis, op. 38 [2:03]
Psalmus 54 (Deus, in nomine tuo) [11:12]
Kammerchor Stuttgart/Frieder Bernius
rec. 3-4 October 2009, Immanuelskirche, Wuppertal; 16 February 2010, 18-19 October 2011, Evangelische Kirche, Gönningen, Germany. DDD
CARUS 83.299 [50:30]

Experience Classicsonline

To most music-lovers Otto Nicolai is exclusively known for his comic opera Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor. It is one of just five operas from his pen. In comparison his output in other genres, in particular sacred and secular vocal music, is much larger. Historically his importance lies in particular in the fact that he founded the Vienna Philharmonic Concerts which would lead later to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. At an early age he came into contact with Carl Friedrich Zelter, who was the director of the Berlin Singakademie. He received an education in singing, piano and composition. At that time he composed his first works, songs for voice and piano and choral music.
The closeness to the Singakademie - to which Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy also belonged - had a considerable influence on his development as a composer. So had his stay in Rome, where from 1834 to 1836 he acted as organist of the chapel of the Prussian embassy. He took lessons in counterpoint with Giuseppe Baini, director of the papal chapel. This brought him into contact with the polyphonic tradition, and in particular the music of Palestrina. He was appointed as maestro compositore onorario of the Accademia Filarmonica in Bologna, after having submitted his Psalmus 54. For several years he worked as opera conductor in Italy and in Vienna, where in 1842 he took the initiative with the Vienna Philharmonic Concerts. In 1847 he became Kapellmeister of the Royal Opera House and director of the cathedral choir in Berlin, as successor to Mendelssohn. In the latter capacity he composed many sacred choral works, some of which have been recorded here.
The disc opens with three extracts from the Liturgie Nr. 1 which dates from 1847 and was the result of a request of the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV who wanted to see the Prussian liturgy renewed. Nicolai composed the complete choral settings in the order of service; here only three of the twelve have been recorded. Herr, ich habe lieb sets verses from Psalms 26 and 95: "Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house". It is a gradual motet which was part of the liturgy since its reform of 1843. However, this piece was written for the birthday of the King and may have been performed only in his private rooms.
In 1848 the newly-built Friedenskirche in Sanssouci was consecrated. For that occasion Nicolai composed Psalms 84 and 100. The latter begins in five parts and is extended to eight parts in two choirs on the words "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving", to be sung after the great doors had been opened by the Bishop. The setting of Psalm 84 which is recorded here, was not sung on this occasion; Nicolai had replaced it at short notice with a piece on the same text for choir and wind. The a capella setting is largely homophonic, and so is Psalm 31. This is again for eight voices, albeit not split into two choirs. As in many choral works it includes passages for solo voices. Psalm 97 is for six solo voices, whereas the tutti are in four parts. It is a mixture of polyphony and homophony, and includes some striking examples of text expression. These are effectively emphasized in this performance; "Feuer" (fire) and "Blitze" (lightnings) are examples. In the middle we find an 'aria' for four voices, but in fact it is the soprano who has the main role here, with the three other voices providing harmonic support.
The Offertorio Assumpta est Maria is the only piece of sacred music which was ever published in Nicolai's lifetime. It dates from 1846 and was written for the anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral in Raab in Hungary. Nicolai was a Protestant, but that was no obstacle to him composing pieces for the Catholic liturgy now and then, although all his other compositions on a Latin text have an orchestral accompaniment.
I have already mentioned Psalmus 54; it is on a Latin text as well, and - as we have seen - composed during Nicolai's stay in Italy. It was not written for the Catholic liturgy, though. In fact, it had no liturgical purpose at all, but was to be sung by the Berlin Singakademie. It was intended for a large choir, more likely in concert than in church. The scoring for ten voices is remarkable; stylistically it is strongly influenced by the polyphonic tradition with which Nicolai had become acquainted in Rome.
Frieder Bernius is an adventurous conductor who is always on the look-out for neglected repertoire. That is certainly the case here: all but two of the compositions on this disc have never been recorded before. Moreover, Nicolai's choral music has been almost completely neglected. It is telling that in the article on the composer in New Grove hardly any attention is paid to this part of his oeuvre. That is unfair: this disc proves that his choral writing should be taken very seriously. If you like 19th-century choral music and can, for instance, appreciate the motets of Mendelssohn, you certainly will enjoy this disc.
The Kammerchor Stuttgart is one of the best of its kind in the world. It has a large repertoire, ranging from the renaissance to contemporary music. I have heard many of their recordings and every one of them is a winner, whether Bach or Zelenka, Mendelssohn or Brahms. This disc is another. We hear a beautifully-balanced ensemble of fine voices, whose delivery is astonishing: the text is always clearly audible which cannot be taken fr granted with choral recordings. Most members of the choir sing the solo passages in various pieces, and they do so very well.
Adventurous programming, superb singing: need I say more?
Johan van Veen
See also review by Jonathan Woolf

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from:












Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.