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Schutz: Cantiones Sacrae / Rademann, Dresdner Kammerchor

Schuetz / Dresdner Kammerchor / Rademann
Release Date: 01/29/2013 
Label:  Carus   Catalog #: 83252   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Heinrich Schütz
Conductor:  Hans-Christoph Rademann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Chamber Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SCHÜTZ Cantiones Sacrae , Op. 4 Hans-Christoph Rademann, cond; Dresdn C Ch CARUS 83.252 (2 CDs: 108: 31 Text and Translation)

The fifth issue in Rademann’s projected complete works of Heinrich Schütz, this publication of 1625 has already been recorded complete three times. Rudolf Mauersberger used a large choir of men and boys with instrumental ensemble; the Eterna recording was once available on Telefunken LPs but, in a Berlin Classics Read more set of 10 CDs of Schütz’s music, never came for review. Manfred Cordes ( Fanfare 20:5) got a rave review for rendering one voice to a part, unaccompanied except for motets that required continuo. Matteo Messori (30:5) also used one voice to a part with organ continuo throughout. The new version has a vocal ensemble of 18 with continuo.

One might wonder why this collection of Latin-texted motets, written over a period of years (some of them were certainly sung for the Emperor Matthias when he visited Dresden in 1617) is not heard as often as the German-texted Geistliche Chor-Musik of 1648, which has been recorded complete 10 times. In a very informative note here, Oliver Geisler shows that Carl von Winterfeld (1834), Philipp Spitta (1894), Joachim Moser (1936), and most recently Clytus Gottwald have singled out the treasures that are to be discovered here, beginning long before the revival of interest in the greatest German composer of the 17th century. The last-named lamented that 20th-century church music has been modeled on the 1648 book instead of this expressionist music that would have led composers in more adventurous directions. It would seem that the music is more admired than loved. Rademann sets out to make it loved.

To read Cordes’s notes is to imagine that, foreseeing this new recording, he was arguing against it in his insistence on one voice to a part without the “rigid sound” of the organ, but his real reference was to Mauersberger’s pioneering set. Rademann shows how light and flexible his singers can sound in this madrigalian music, and the continuo is so discreet as to fade out of hearing. (Indeed, I cannot hear it at all in at least one piece, “Dulcissime et benignissime Christe.”) I find the two versions equally appealing, appreciating the one I am hearing before switching to the other equally impressive performance. My head tells me that Cordes argues persuasively, but my heart tells me that the warmth of Rademann’s multiple voices is unarguable. These Scriptural texts in Latin are not madrigals, after all.

At least six conductors have assembled partial collections of this music to fit a single disc. The largest was two LPs under Helmut Rilling, both issued here on Musical Heritage Society, probably a projected complete set that was never finished. The most recent, a full CD by Erik van Nevel (15:5), was commendable when the only complete set was Mauersberger’s, but van Nevel never made the rest of the book. It should be noted that I referred in that review to “41 motets;” the correct count is 40, since “Pater noster” is printed twice as the secunda pars of two motets. If you have not discovered the marvels of this book, I urge you to hear Rademann. He promises to give us a commendable complete works.

FANFARE: J. F. Weber
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Works on This Recording

Cantiones sacrae, Op. 4 by Heinrich Schütz
Conductor:  Hans-Christoph Rademann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Chamber Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 

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