Notes and Editorial Reviews
, SWV 50.
, SWV 457.
Christ ist erstanden
, SWV 470.
, SWV 463.
, SWV 469.
Es gingen zweene Menschen
, SWV 444
Hans-Christoph Rademann, cond; Dresden C Ch; Instrumenta Musica
CARUS 83.256 (60:48
Text and Translation)
The familiar Easter Oratorio is filled out with five seldom-recorded short pieces, none of them included in any of the published books. SWV 444 was recorded in a Messori box (
30:5); SWV 469 was in a Cantus Cölln disc of rarities (16:5); SWV 457 was in a Craig Smith collection, though misidentified there (17:2); SWV 463 was in a Roger Norrington LP (later on CD) that included several works that were first recordings at the time; SWV 470 is the rarest of the group, only once recorded on an obscure German LP.
The principal recent alternatives to the Easter Oratorio come in sets of the major works. Paul Hillier has the six largest Schütz works in a boxed set, also available separately (33:5). On the single CD, this work is coupled with the Christmas Oratorio, a pairing previously offered by Frieder Bernius (14:4), whose performance had some serious interpretive faults. The other boxed set, with this work and the three Passions, was made by Matteo Messori and included SWV 444 as well (30: 5), but I neglected the minor fillers in that review.
In the major work, tenor Georg Poplutz is a superb Evangelist, carrying the story to fine effect. His counterparts, Johan Linderoth (for Hillier) and Gerd Türk (for Messori), are also very fine. The three performances contrast strongly, for the timings range from 35 minutes (Hillier) to 40 (Rademann) and 48 (Messori). It would be easy to declare for the happy medium, but it is not that simple. All tell the story well, but Hillier directed a superb performance that matched the rest of his series of major works. SWV 444 is the most interesting of the shorter works, telling the story of the Pharisee and the publican, a masterpiece in less than four minutes with a recording history of four obscure versions (before Messori’s) dating back to the days of shellac. The narrative is given to a pair of sopranos, while the exchange between the two men in the Temple occurs in the middle of the parable, the publican’s plea for mercy repeated over and over as the Pharisee continues bragging about his virtues. Dating from about 1630, it is found in manuscript in Kassel. It deserves to be better known. The other three short works are all Easter motets. SWV 470 and 469 provide a large instrumental complement for the chorus, while SWV 457 uses instrumental accompaniment more modestly. This disc is a valuable addition to Rademann’s ongoing complete works. His singers and instrumentalists are always responsive to his direction, the tonal quality is uniformly excellent, and the sound is captured most effectively. How long before the Becker psalms fill in the biggest gap in the discography? Buy it for the Easter programming, even if you have the major work already.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Ich weiß, dass mein Erlöser lebet,
Christ ist erstanden,
Cantante Domino canticum novum,
Surrexit pastor bonus,
Es gingen zweene Menschen hinauf,
Hans-Christoph Rademann, cond;
Gerlinde Sämann (
Georg Poplutz (
Felix Rumpf (
); Dresden C Ch; Sirius Viols; Instrumenta Musica
CARUS 83.256 (2 CDs: 60: 48
Text and Translation)
As J. F. Weber just contributed an excellent review of this release to these pages in 37:6, I will confine myself to a few supplemental remarks concerning points he did not cover. One of Schütz’s earlier compositions, the
, is remarkably rich in compositional conception. The text, a conflation from the four Gospel narratives, is by Johannes Bugenhagen (1485–1558), a theological ally of Martin Luther. The three main roles are those of the Evangelist, Jesus, and Mary Magdalene. Of these, however, only that of the Evangelist as narrator is assigned to a solo voice; the other two (and also the brief role of the young man in the sepulcher) are given to two voices singing in harmony. Numerous other comprimario roles—the three women, the two angels at the tomb, the council of the chief priests, and (with a significant exception of one solo question posed by Cleopas) the two disciples on the road to Emmaus—are likewise doubled or tripled for solo voices, rather than assigned to individual solo voices or a full choir. This allows Schütz to alternate between narrative line and direct speech, and to treat the intertwined solo voices like concertante instrumental lines, thereby achieving numerous striking effects. (His other oratorio and passion settings, all composed after the devastation of the Thirty Years’ War had greatly reduced imperial and ducal funding for musical activities, employed far more economical forces.) However, Schütz also explicitly provided the option of giving one of the two vocal lines for Jesus, Mary, etc. to an instrument instead, or even to omit the secondary line altogether, which if done tilts the character of the performance toward a theatrical, almost proto-operatic, style.
All of which brings us to an interesting point. While I have not heard every recording of this work (seven are currently listed at ArkivMusic), I am familiar with most of them, and this is the first one I have encountered which employs the option of a solo voice with instrumental accompaniment rather than two voices in the parts of Jesus, Mary, and the young man. As such, it came as a surprise to me. While I continue to prefer the more traditional approach of giving all the parts in question to voices, this version is consequently of considerable importance for presenting listeners with the less common but still composer-sanctioned alternative. As for the caliber of the performance, I am in full agreement with Weber that this version is excellent, but that the Hillier recording on Da Capo (reviewed by Weber in 33:5 and by me in 35:4) sets the gold standard here, which no other recording quite matches. (Weber gave the Bernius recording an enthusiastic endorsement in a feature article back in 14:4, but he has apparently changed his mind, as in his review of that disc he now says that it has “some serious interpretive faults.”)
The five filler pieces are motets and polychoral concertos, which, while not all having texts explicitly concerned with Eastertide, are related to it in broader theological terms by the exceptionally fine booklet notes.
Cantate Domino canticum novum
is an arrangement by Schütz of a motet from the
of his teacher in Venice, Giovanni Gabrieli.
Christ ist erstanden
, believed to be the earliest work that Schütz composed for Easter, has not survived intact and is performed here in a reconstruction by musicologist Werner Berg. Both it and the
Surrexit pastor bonus
feature complex polyphonic lines and especially rich instrumentation, whereas the later
Ich weiß, dass mein Erlöser lebet
employs somewhat simpler means. Finally,
Es gingen zweene Menschen hinauf
ingeniously presents the parable of the Pharisee and the publican by giving the former an upbeat, skipping musical line that portrays his smug self-satisfaction and providing the latter with a repeatedly interjected keening vocal phrase to signify his heartfelt contrition and repeated striking of his breast in remorse. The recorded sound matches the excellence of the previous entries in this complete Schütz edition. In sum, strongly recommended—but, please, give us the complete Becker Psalter soon!
FANFARE: James A. Altena Read less
Ich weiss, dass mein Erlöser lebet, SWV 457: Ich weiss, dass mein Erloser lebet, SWV 457
Christ ist erstanden von der Marter alle, SWV 470
The Resurrection (Auferstehungshistorie), Op. 3, SWV 50: Introitus
The Resurrection (Auferstehungshistorie), Op. 3, SWV 50: Der Ostermorgen
The Resurrection (Auferstehungshistorie), Op. 3, SWV 50: Jesus erscheint der Magdalena
The Resurrection (Auferstehungshistorie), Op. 3, SWV 50: Der Jüngling im Grabe
The Resurrection (Auferstehungshistorie), Op. 3, SWV 50: Jesus erscheint den Frauen
The Resurrection (Auferstehungshistorie), Op. 3, SWV 50: Rat der Hohenpriester
The Resurrection (Auferstehungshistorie), Op. 3, SWV 50: Jesus erscheint den Emmausjüngern
The Resurrection (Auferstehungshistorie), Op. 3, SWV 50: Jesus erscheint den elf Jüngern
The Resurrection (Auferstehungshistorie), Op. 3, SWV 50: Der Sendungsbefehl
The Resurrection (Auferstehungshistorie), Op. 3, SWV 50: Beschluss
Cantate Domino canticum novum, SWV 463
Surrexit pastor bonus, SWV 469
Es gingen zweene Menschen hinauf, SWV 444
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