If you had not noticed before that the Musicalische Exequien – the 30-minute funeral sequence Schütz composed in 1636 for Prince Heinrich Posthumus von Reuss – is a masterpiece, then this disc should go some way towards convincing you. Schütz took his texts from Reuss himself, or more specifically from the biblical extracts he ordered to be inscribed on his densely decorated sarcophagus, so it does not have quite the same specifically personal hinterland as the work with which it is often compared, Brahms’s German Requiem. Neither does it draw on the same resources, being written for a small ensemble of voices with simple continuo accompaniment, yet the skill and refinement with which Schütz juggles solo and tutti passages,Read more and the depth and emotional precision of his response to the text, results in something no less profound and no less moving in its utterly Lutheran vision of death as welcome release from the world’s travails into God’s loving care. Listening to the plangent concluding Nunc dimittis, one has to wonder if death has ever seemed more noble or sublime.
The 12 voices of Belgian ensemble Vox Luminis put their faith in tonal focus and sweetly balanced textures. Though one might expect from that a certain coolness, their singing produces music-making of intimate, aching beauty. The recorded sound, gently resonant, is perfect. This great work is preceded by other funeral motets by Schütz, including two more settings of the Nunc dimittis and a heartfelt musician’s memorial to the composer Schein. In Vox Luminis’s hands even the four verses of Luther’s unison chorale Mit Fried und Freud tugs at the heart. A marvellous disc.
Musicalische Exequien (Schütz): Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt
Herr, nun lässet du deinen Diener in Friede Fahen, SWV 432 (Schütz)
Silent Night (Gruber)
Average Customer Review: ( 3 Customer Reviews )
Schuetz - Musikalische Exequien January 8, 2013By hans de Groot (Toronto, ON)See All My Reviews"I sang in the chorus for this marvellous work many years ago and here finally is a recording which does it full justice. Strongly recommended."Report Abuse
An International WinnerDecember 29, 2012By Herschel V. Anderson (TEMPE, AZ)See All My Reviews"Four of Schutz's funeral motetss and two organ solos (Samuel Schedt and Martin Luther) precede the title work, a funeral mass commissioned by prince Heinrich Posthumus von Reuss of Gera. Since the liturgical language used in all the sung works is that of the Lutheran tradition, these funerary works are joyful rather than sad. Vox Luminis, of Namur, Belgium, sings with clear and sparkling harmonies. Their recording engineers have carefully brought that crystal clear quality to this recording of early German Baroque music. Schutz studied under Gabrieli in Venice and was instrumental in bringing the Baroque style to his native Germany. This recording is so exemplary that it has won Gramaphone's 2012 "Recording of the Year" as well as the Baroque Vocal Gramophone Award. It has also won the International Classical Music Award. I recommend this recording as one of my ten most important choral recordings of 2012; its is elegantly beautiful."Report Abuse
Schutz `Musicalische Exequien', a Gramophone WinNovember 3, 2012By E. Olson (Urbana, IL)See All My Reviews"With respect to soloists, chorus, and instrumental forces, this recording is excellent. Ambience and recording are ideal. Program notes are complete and well-written. Schutz was a student of Giovanni Gabrieli at San Marco in Venice, but has his own remarkable style. He kept composing through much of his unusually long life. The `Musicalische Exequien' has been recorded many times. The only other one I know fairly well was conducted by Wilhelm Ehmann, and is also a fine performance (marked by tenor Hans-Joachim Rotzsch, who in MHO is the very best tenor in works of Schutz)."Report Abuse