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Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585-1672)
Complete Works Volume 18
Symphoniæ sacræ II, Op.10, SWV341-367 (Dresden 1647)
Dorothee Mields, Isabel Schicketanz (soprano); David Erler (alto); Georg Poplutz; Tobias Mäthger (tenor); Felix Rumpf, Felix Schwandtke (bass)
Matthias Müller (violin), Friederike Otto (cornet), Andreas Arend (theorbo), Beate Rollecke (organ), Georg Poplutz (tenor), Margret Baumgartl (violin), Karina Müller (violin), Anna Schall (cornet), Gebhard David (cornet), Katja Johanning (recorder), Sebastian Krause (trombone), Julia Nagel (trombone), Clemens Schlemmer (dulcian), Michael Metzler (percussion)/Hans-Christoph Rademann
rec. 20-26 July 2017, Stadtkirche Zum Heiligen Namen Gottes, Radeberg, Germany. DDD.
Texts and translations included.
CARUS 83.274 [68:36 + 65:10]

Rademann and his team have already given us the first volume of Schütz’s Symphoniæ Sacrae (Carus 83.273 – review) and Volume III (83.258 – review). Conrad Junghänel’s award-winning recording of Volume III is now download only, in which form it comes minus any booklet (HMC901850/51). The forces at the composer’s disposal for the first volume, in 1629, were diminished as a result of the disastrous Thirty Years War but the other two sets (1647 and 1650) benefited both from a better choice of singers and instrumentalists and what seems to have been a more cheerful outlook from Schütz.

Don’t try to take in the whole of these two CDs in one sitting; remember that Schütz intended them not to be performed in a single concert but for choirmasters to pick and choose individual works or small selections as desired. Meine Seele erhebt den Herren, for example, the German Magnificat, could have been used at Vespers and Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener (the Nunc Dimittis) at Compline or for funerals: he included another setting of these words for the latter purpose in his Musikalische Exequien.

Other pieces would be appropriate for specific days or seasons in the calendar: Es steh Gott auf, for example (Let God arise) for Ascension and Ich werde nicht sterben (I shall not die) for funerals and memorial services. Several of the pieces are settings of psalms or sets of verses from psalms for use in appropriate services, while those steeped in the 1662 Prayer Book will recognise versicles and reponses from mattins and evensong in Verleih uns Frieden genadiglich (grant peace in our time, O Lord).

Verleih uns Frieden is also the title piece of a recent release of music by Schütz and his contemporaries (loosely) from the time of the Thirty Years War, sung by the Johann Rosenmüller Ensemble, directed by Arno Paduch, on Christophorus CHR77424 [76:02]. The Schütz setting of these words which ends the programme on that album comes not from the Op.10 collection but from Op.11. The performances are by some distance inferior to Rademann’s on the Op.10 recording, but the album overall is worth considering. Several of the works – and composers – are not otherwise available; I hadn’t even heard of Marcus Dietrich Brandisius, Jan Sixt von Lerchenfels – as wonderful a name as Walter von der Vogelweide – or Nikolaus Weisbeck, for example.

The Schütz recordings by Rademann and his team have received so much praise that they need no more from me. Though not a recognised named ensemble, they have made so many recordings together that they perform as one. I very much liked their recording of the Resurrection Story and other Easter music – DL News 2014/6 – and Cantiones Sacræ DL News 2013/2.  I must admit to having been so charmed by the whole of the two new CDs – I ignored my own advice and listened to both in sequence – that I put away my Beckmesser slate, but there was nothing that made me want to mark anything down.  Indeed, much as I enjoy the Cantus Cölln recording of Book III, Rademann’s recording of that book is now my next planned stop on the voyage of Schütz discovery.

I was going to write that this is not the ideal place for beginners to experience Schütz’s music and to point to his Christmas Story and Resurrection Story for that purpose. Certainly, the DaCapo CD on which they are coupled in performances by the Hilliard Ensemble would do very well as an introduction (8.226058 – review Music for Holy Week and Easter), but Books II and III of the Symphoniæ would also do very well. The more austere works from the Thirty Years War, such as the St Matthew Passion and to some extent Book I of the Symphoniæ, would not be my recommended starting point, beautiful as they also are in their own way.

The recording, notes, texts and translations are of Carus’s usual high standard. I’m not sure why the Douay translation of Wie ein Rubin in feinem Golde leuchtet was chosen when the New Revised Standard translation of this passage from Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 32 is much closer to the German text: ‘A ruby seal in a setting of gold is a concert of music at a banquet of wine. A seal of emerald in a rich setting of gold is the melody of music with good wine’. Luther, as so often, got the translation just right and in accord with the best modern versions – and what wonderful words when set to music as fine as this and so well performed.

I’m certainly not complaining about the attention that Schütz is receiving, but how about his gifted contemporaries, Schein, Demantius and the unfortunate-sounding (to Anglophone ears) Scheidt? The excerpts from Johann Hermann Schein’s Israelis Brünnlein (1623), also known as Fontana d’Israel, on a recent Alpha release (ALPHA394, with Schütz Resurrection Story review) should lead the listener to more complete recordings from Cantus Cölln (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 05472773592, download only),  Rheinische Kantorei (Capriccio C5069 – review) and Rademann (Carus 83.350, 2 CDs – review DL Roundup September 2012/1).  The Carus is available in lossless sound from eclassical.com, albeit without the very important booklet.

Poor old Johann Christoph Demantius seems to have only one current recording to his name: Vespers for Whitsun (1602) on Harmonia Mundi d’Abord at super-budget-price (HMA1951705, Huelgas Ensemble/Paul van Nevel). It was standard Lutheran practice to sing Vespers in Latin on high days and holidays, as it still was in Bach’s time a century later, rounded off with two German pieces at the end of this recording. Though less influenced by Italian music than Schütz, Demantius demonstrates a transition between the older polyphonic style and that of his exact contemporary Monteverdi. This is the only recording, so it’s very much Hobson’s choice, but the performances are very good, and the short playing time is compensated for by the price, as little as £4.29 in lossless sound from Qobuz. There’s no booklet, but with this series these tend to be rudimentary affairs anyway.

Recordings wholly devoted to Samuel Scheidt tend to concentrate on his instrumental works, especially his organ music, but there are three recordings of his Cantiones Sacræ and two of his Sacred Concertos (CPO 777145-2 – review – and a recent release from Christophorus, CHR77411). There’s a selection of 21 pieces from the Cantiones sung by the Debrecen Kodály Choir on Hungaroton (HCD31640, with ten organ works interpolated, download only, available from eclassical.com, no booklet) but most will prefer the more complete collection and more idiomatic performances from Vox Luminis on Ricercar RIC301 (stream with pdf booklet from Naxos Music Library).

The new Schütz recording has taken me on an excursion far from the source with which it began. That’s largely because the music, performances and recording are so very good that I could wish Rademann and his team to give more attention to Schütz's gifted contemporaries, to add to their recordfing of Schein's Israels Brünnlein. How about it, Carus? Meanwhile, the new release, the eighteenth in the Schütz series, maintains the very high standards established so far.

Brian Wilson

Contents
CD1
Mein Herz ist bereit, SWV341 [4:00]
Singet dem Herren ein neues Lied, SWV342 [4:32]
Herr, unser Herrscher, SWV343 [5:19]
Meine Seele erhebt den Herren, SWV344 [7:02]
Der Herr ist meine Stärke, SWV345 [3:00]
Ich werde nicht sterben, SWV346 [4:43]
Ich danke dir, Herr, SWV347 [4:13]
Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr, SWV348 [4:22]
Frohlocket mit Händen, SWV349 [4:23]
Lobet den Herrn in seinem Heiligtum, SWV350 [4:37]
Hütet euch, dass eure Herzen, SWV351 [4:52]
Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener, SWV352 [3:58]
Was betrübst du dich, SWV353 [5:42]
Verleih uns Frieden genadiglich, SWV354 [3:36]
Gib unsern Fürsten, SWV355 [4:09]

CD2
Es steh Gott auf, SWV356 [6:21]
Wie ein Rubin in feinem Golde leuchtet, SWV357 [2:53]
Iss dein Brot mit Freuden, SWV358 [4:16]
Der Herr ist mein Licht, SWV359 [5:29]
Zweierlei bitte ich, Herr, SWV360 [6:05]
Herr, neige deine Himmel, SWV361 [4:32]
Von Aufgang der Sonnen, SWV362 [5:12]
Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden, SWV363 [3:32]
Die so ihr den Herren fürchtet, SWV364 [4:40]
Drei schöne Dinge seind, SWV365 [8:30]
Von Gott will ich nicht lassen, SWV366 [8:07]
Freuet euch des Herren, SWV367 [5:26]

 




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