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Weckmann: Sacred Motets & Lamentations / Junghanel

Weckmann / Cantus Colln / Junghanel
Release Date: 03/09/2010 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 902034  
Composer:  Matthias WeckmannJohann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Konrad Junghänel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto PalatinoCantus Cölln
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



WECKMANN Wie liegt die Stadt so wüste. Der Tod ist verschlungen. Weine nicht. Gegrüßet seinst Du, Holdselige. Kommet her zu mir. Zion spricht. Wenn der Herr dei Gefangenen. Canzon II & IX Konrad Junghänel, cond; Johanna Koslowsky (sop); Alexander Schneider (ct); Hans Jörg Mammel (ten); Wolf Matthias Friedrich (bs); Cantus Cölln; Concerto Palatino (period instruments) HARMONIA MUNDI 902034 (77:56 & )
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One usually thinks of Heinrich Schütz as the main composer of Protestant church music for much of the 17th century, but the passing of his contemporary, Matthias Weckmann, organist in the Church of St. Jacob in Hamburg, was mourned as the end of an era that must inevitably lead to rapid decline. As a youth Weckmann did come into contact with the Venetian genres of sacred concerto and symphony when he worked alongside Schütz in Dresden, but his take on them was decidedly formed by the need for simplicity as required by the Pietist city fathers in Hamburg.


Weckmann is, of course, no stranger to the world of recorded performances, and indeed all of the pieces on this disc, seven vocal works (called cantatas, motets, sacred concertos, etc.) and a pair of instrumental canzonas, have appeared frequently over the past two decades on important labels such as Chandos, cpo, and Archiv. It seems to be music that early-music groups need to cut their teeth on in order to see how close they can come to a certain performance practice. This is no doubt why the Cantus Cölln chose them, but it may be part of a series by the conductor Konrad Junghänel to carve out a niche for himself in this particular period, since he seems to have made a concerted effort to go after Buxtehude, Biber, and various members of the Bach clan using this same ensemble. Whatever the case, he has enlisted the able aid of musicologist Peter Wollny, an expert in the field (and whose excellent booklet notes are quite a good read), to enable what promises to be a continuing series.


The music itself reveals considerable depths. The gnarly dissonances and downright spooky entrance in the sacred concerto Wie liegt die Stadt so wüste (a translation of the Lamentations) are symbols of Weckmann’s attention to Affekt . What is more, the bass-heavy instrumentation supports the desolate feeling. In Weine nicht , the chromatic violin lines of the opening demonstrate the fluid harmony that characterizes Weckman’s style excellently. The two canzonas, however, seem fairly unremarkable. The setting of Psalm 126 ( Wenn der Herr die Gefangenen ) is labeled a cantata, but seems no different than the sacred concertos: short sections contrasting simple polyphony with concertato writing for the voices, all including some really neat dissonances and close harmony. Weckmann is certainly a figure worth noting, especially compared with some of his Italian colleagues, who are beginning to favor lyrical lines and diatonic harmony; the age-old issue of style versus substance.


The major difficulty with performing this sort of music is that everything depends upon nuance and the ability to articulate cleanly the often tortuous lines without letting the energy flag. Since no tempos are generally given, directors have a difficult choice of getting the florid lines right or slowing things down too much. There is no doubt that the Cantus Cölln performances are as good as those by the Himlische Cantorey or their predecessor, Musica Antiqua Köln. But like these forerunners, the tempos chosen by Junghänel seem a touch on the slow side, making the music static at times and allowing the energy to flag, as it does in Weine nicht . Alexander Schneider’s countertenor can be hooty at times, while tenor Hans Jörg Mammel occasionally struggles with pitch. What I find occasionally difficult is that all four of the solo voices seem just slightly out of sync with each other in terms of timbre, which when added with the strident violin straight-tone sound can be grating. Still, these recordings are equal to those of the two discs noted above (as well as a quirky interpretation on Ramée), and there is nothing that would elicit a recommendation against this performance. So, if you are a German 17th-century Weckmann fan, you’ll appreciate this interpretation.


FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
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Works on This Recording

1. Wie liegt die Stadt so wüste by Matthias Weckmann
Conductor:  Konrad Junghänel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Palatino,  Cantus Cölln
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1663; Germany 
2. Der Tod is verschlungen by Matthias Weckmann
Conductor:  Konrad Junghänel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Palatino,  Cantus Cölln
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
3. Two-Part Invention no 13 in A minor, BWV 784 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Konrad Junghänel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Palatino
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Cöthen, Germany 
4. Weine nicht, es hat überwunden by Matthias Weckmann
Conductor:  Konrad Junghänel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Palatino,  Cantus Cölln
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1664; Germany 
5. Gegrüsset seyst du, Holdselige by Matthias Weckmann
Conductor:  Konrad Junghänel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Palatino,  Cantus Cölln
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1664; Germany 
6. Kommet her zu mir alle by Matthias Weckmann
Conductor:  Konrad Junghänel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Palatino,  Cantus Cölln
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1664; Germany 
7. Canzon for Keyboard no 2 in C minor by Matthias Weckmann
Conductor:  Konrad Junghänel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Palatino
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
8. Zion spricht, der Herr hat mich verlassen by Matthias Weckmann
Conductor:  Konrad Junghänel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Palatino,  Cantus Cölln
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1663; Germany 
9. Wenn der Herr die Gefangnen zu Zion erlösen wird by Matthias Weckmann
Conductor:  Konrad Junghänel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Palatino,  Cantus Cölln
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; Germany 

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