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Krieger: Musicalischer Seelen-Frieden / Mields, Eckert, Hamburger Ratsmusik

Krieger / Mields / Hamburger Ratsmusik
Release Date: 03/26/2013 
Label:  Carus   Catalog #: 83372  
Composer:  Johann Philipp Krieger
Performer:  Dorothee Mields
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hamburger Ratsmusik
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

KRIEGER Musicalischer Seelen-Frieden: Sonatas: Op. 2/4 in F; Op. 2/5 in G. Op. 2/6 in a; Sacred concerto Ecce nunc benedicite Domino Simone Eckert, cond; Dorothee Mields (sop); Hamburger Ratsmusik (period instruments) CARUS 83372 (58:54 Text and Translation)

Johann Philipp Krieger was one of the more recognized predecessors of Johann Sebastian Bach in the region in upper Saxony. The composer of over 2,000 cantatas, Read more he was widely considered to be one if not the principal Lutheran church composer of the last years of the 17th century. Born in 1649 in Nuremberg, he was a student of Jakob Froberger and visited Italy where he came into contact with Johann Rosenmüller in Venice, not to mention some of the more famous names in Italian music. By 1677 he was Kapellmeister in Halle, and later Weissenfels, a place well known as the home of numerous members of the Bach family, as well as of Heinrich Schütz. At his death in 1725 he had outlived most of his contemporaries and had a reputation that even Bach acknowledged as superior.

It is surprising that much of Krieger’s music has not been more widely heard. Some of this is, of course, due to the vicissitudes of time; for example, only around 80 of his huge number of cantatas still exist, and he published only a couple of times during his life. Recordings include a set of cantatas by the Hamburger Ratsmusik on Thorofon back in 2003, the trio sonatas on CPO in 2007 by I Parnassi, and other bits and pieces of songs, operas, and organ music. But, the gems featured in this disc might call for a continued revival, for they are absolutely delightful, and even though three of the works from the Musicalische Seelen-Frieden collection do harken back to the late sacred concertos of Schütz in their structure, they are the halfway house towards the development of the full-blown cantata of the early Baroque. This group of some 20 works, of which three are performed here, was published in 1697 and contains a rather modern sound for the period, even though the structure was somewhat dated. Scored for voice (sung here by soprano Dorothee Mields), a pair of violins, and continuo, they consist of various sections in which the text of the Psalms is subdivided according to Affekt . This provides both continuity and variety on several levels, but always with some wonderful turns. For example, the central portion of the second, “Es stehe Gott auf,” begins with the text “Singet Gott” which is a rollicking gigue that unfolds with a tune almost like a nursery rhyme (and of course beginning the entire concerto with a highly florid rising vocal line depicting the arising of God). In the final portions of each of the three, the soprano cuts loose with a string of twisting and turning lines to the words “Hallelujah” in a manner that foreshadows Bach. Krieger also smoothly transitions from one short section to the next, with an arioso style, such as the opening portion of “Herr, auf dich ich trau,” that flows imperceptibly into the brief moments of recitative, sometimes with a hint of dance-like triplet rhythm forcing the pace along. In the only sacred concerto in Latin, Ecce nunc benedicite Domino , the opening practically dances off the disc with a rather Vivaldian line with the strings echoing the fluid vocal line, only to be punctuated by powerful and emphatic mezzo di voce notes. The “Amen” that concludes it is a melismatic vocalise that seems more difficult technically than it is.

The sonatas are likewise well constructed. Here he uses a pairing of violin and viola da gamba, increasing the textural possibilities through the darker tone of the latter. In the second movement of the Sixth Sonata, the vigorous lines that tumble over each other are positively Corellian, while the first and last movements are based around ostinato variations, the first a passacaglia and the second a chaconne. In the fourth sonata, the triplets of the two strings continually echo each other, like water over a coursing stream, all above a rock-steady continuo line.

The performance by the Hamburger Ratsmusik is clear and precise, with the upper strings very nicely matched in timbre and tone. In the sacred concertos they provide an equal partnership to Mields’s crystalline soprano. Every line is distinctive and clearly articulated, with the many tempo changes smooth and unobtrusive. The tempos are vigorous without being driven, lending a lovely continuity to the music. This is an exemplary disc and shows how music of this period ought to be done. I heartily recommend this disc and hope that it will inspire a complete compilation of the Seelen-Frieden.

FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
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Works on This Recording

Herr, auf dich trau ich by Johann Philipp Krieger
Performer:  Dorothee Mields (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hamburger Ratsmusik
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1697 
Sonata no 6 by Johann Philipp Krieger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hamburger Ratsmusik
Es stehe Gott auf by Johann Philipp Krieger
Performer:  Dorothee Mields (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hamburger Ratsmusik
Sonata no 4 by Johann Philipp Krieger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hamburger Ratsmusik
Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille by Johann Philipp Krieger
Performer:  Dorothee Mields (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hamburger Ratsmusik
Sonata no 5 by Johann Philipp Krieger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hamburger Ratsmusik
Ecce nunc benedicite Domingo by Johann Philipp Krieger
Performer:  Dorothee Mields (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hamburger Ratsmusik

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