Schutz: Musikalische Exequien / Rademann, Desdner Kammerchor

Release Date: 11/15/2011
Label: Carus
Catalog Number: CV83238
Orchestra/Ensemble: Dresden Chamber Choir
Number of Discs: 1

Physical Format:

In Stock
Notes and Editorial Reviews

SCHÜTZ Musikalische Exequien, SWV 279–281. Ich bin die Auferstehung und das Leben, SWV 464. Grimmige Gruft, SWV 52. Gutes und Barmherzigkeit, SWV 95. Ich hab mein Sach Gott heimgestellt, SWV 94. Das ist je gewisslich wahr, SWV 277. O meine Seel, warum bist du betrübt, SWV 419 Hans-Christoph Rademann, cond; Dorothee Mields, Anja Zügner (sop); Alexander Schneider (alt); Jan Kobow, Tobias Mäthger (tenor); Harry van der Kamp, Matthias Lutze (bs); Matthias Müller (vn); Ludger Rémy (org); Dresden CCh CARUS 83.238 (68:24 Text and Translation)

The Musikalische Exequien of Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672) is one of his most often recorded works, and has almost invariably fared well on disc. Fellow Fanfare critic J. F. Weber has no fewer than seven reviews of other recordings of this work in the online Archive; the most recent (in Fanfare 35:2) is by Lionel Meunier with Vox Luminis on Ricercar. He finds good things to say about all of them, but has particularly commended the versions by Philippe Herreweghe with La Chapelle Royale on Harmonia Mundi (17:5) and by Wolfgang Helbich with the Alsfelder Vocal Ensemble on Naxos (28:3). For my part, I recently reviewed a recording in 35:1 by the Amarcord with the Cappella Sagittariana Dresden on Raumklang that I found serviceable but not more.

By contrast, this performance ranks alongside the very best. Like the Helbich and Meunier recordings it uses the minimal forces of organ and one stringed instrument (here, Baroque violin) for the instrumental accompaniment. The vocal blend is exceptionally fine—only the male alto is not always to my taste, a point reflecting my subjective preference for a female voice instead—and the texts are rendered with great sensitivity and clarity of articulation. Of the solo voices, the lead roles are assumed by soprano Dorothee Mields, tenor Jan Kobow, and bass Harry van der Kamp; all three are well-established stars in the current vocal firmament, and their labors here—Kobow is particularly affecting, while Mields does a star turn by herself in Grimmige Gruft —fully justify their reputations. The other soloists listed in the headnote are drawn from the ranks of the 18-member Dresden Chamber Choir; founded by conductor Hans-Christoph Rademann in 1985, it is rightly renowned for its highly polished work in Baroque repertoire, and does itself proud here, singing with a pure tone and precise intonation and balance.

Rademann has intelligently coupled the Exequien , composed for the funeral of Count Heinrich Posthumous Reuß in 1636, with other works by Schütz penned for the occasion of mourning, most having close personal associations. Ich bin die Auferstehung was written upon the death of his boyhood friend, organist Anton Colander (1590–1621). Grimmige Gruft, with a text by Schütz himself, was an elegy offered for the Duchess Sophia of Saxony upon her death in 1622. The composer’s “year of anguish” was 1625, when he lost his wife, Magdalena Wildeck, at age 24; his wife’s sister, Anna Maria Wildeck, a scarce three weeks before that; and a youthful colleague, Jacob Schultes, for whose sister he had written a wedding motet, Haus und Güter erbet man von Eltern , SWV 21. To commemorate his wife, Schütz wrote the sacred concerto Mit dem Amphion zwar , posthumously catalogued as SWV 501, which is featured on the Raumklang disc; for his sister-in-law and Schultes his respective offerings were Ich hab mein Sach and Gutes und Barmherzigkeit, presented here. Das ist je gewisslich wahr was a tribute to Schütz’s esteemed contemporary Hermann Schein, penned upon the latter’s death in 1630. Finally, O meine Seel was composed in 1652 on the death of Anna Margarethe Brehme, wife of Christian Brehme, who was for many years the mayor of Dresden and the royal court librarian. Four of these works—SWV 52, 94, 95, and 419—are adverted as premiere recordings; given the difficulty in tracking down titles of individual sacred concerti in the Schütz oeuvre this is difficult to verify or refute, but it is wrong in the case of SWV 94, where there is a previous recording by Wilhelm Ehmann, though that apparently is not in print.

The recorded sound is clear and slightly reverberant, with solo voices a bit forward. Detailed notes, German-English texts, and numerous photos (including one of the elaborately inscribed coffin of Count Reuß) are provided in a superior booklet. This CD is advertised by Carus as Volume 3 in a projected series of the complete works of Schütz. If so, it has some ways to go to catch up with the ongoing set being produced by Brilliant Classics under Matteo Messori—though that series has produced only one more volume since 2005, and one fears that it has fallen into abeyance—and is far more expensive. However, the performances are also of superior quality, and the disc is well worth acquiring in its own right, both for the Exequien and for the putative premiere offerings. Highly recommended.

FANFARE: James A. Altena
Works on This Recording
1. Musicalische Exequien, Op. 7/SWV 279-81 by Heinrich Schütz
Orchestra/Ensemble: Dresden Chamber Choir
Period: Baroque
Written: 1636 ; Germany
2. Grimmige Gruft, so hast du dann, SWV 52 by Heinrich Schütz
Orchestra/Ensemble: Dresden Chamber Choir
Period: Baroque
Written: by 1623 ; Germany
3. Gutes und Barmherzigkeit werden mir folgen, SWV 95 by Heinrich Schütz
Orchestra/Ensemble: Dresden Chamber Choir
Period: Baroque
Written: by 1625 ; Germany
4. O meine Seel, warum bist du betrübet, SWV 419 by Heinrich Schütz
Orchestra/Ensemble: Dresden Chamber Choir
Period: Baroque
Written: by 1652 ; Germany
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