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Christian GEIST (c.1650-1711)
Royal Concertos

Quis hostis in coelis (1672)
Exaudi Deus orationem (1672)
Io, Musae, novo Sol rutilat (1671)
Zitto hoggi Faune (1674)
Dixit Dominus (1673)
Domine qui das salutem I (1670)
Domine qui das salutem II (1672)
Domine qui das salutem III (1675)
Domine in virtue tua (1672)
Capella Rediviva/Boo Peter Tillberg
Recorded at Svartsjö Castle, October-November 2003
DAPHNE 1020 [65.03]

Christian Geist was born in Güstrom in Northern Germany probably around 1650. His early musical training was from his father, a cathedral Kantor and his early appointment was in the court of the Duke of Mecklenburg. He moved to Stockholm as an organist, remaining there until 1680, and on marriage to the widow of the previous occupant took up the position of organist at several churches and cathedrals in Copenhagen. In 1711 he and his third wife and children died of the plague.

The works recorded here are sacred concertos written for small ensembles of voices and strings. They date from the 1670s and a number were inspired by the accession in 1672 of King Karl XI - for whose coronation service a number were written. Geist also wrote music for the New Year’s Day celebrations, though the impetus to write the Dixit Dominus, Domine qui das salutem I and Domine qui das salutem III remains obscure. Clearly he had a firm grounding in counterpoint, a product of his rigorous early training, and even more obviously Geist was greatly influenced by the prevailing musical wind of change blowing from Italy.

The original instrument group Capella Rediviva – five singers and seven instrumentalists, though here augmented by five guests because of the need for brass and timpani reinforcements – perform capably and enthusiastically, though the brittle and dry castle acoustic does them no favours at all. Thus the resonant brass figures of Quis hostis in coelis never really expand as eloquently or dramatically as they should. This piece, with its rhythmic incision, little harmonic lurches and palpable Italianate models is the most ambitious structure of all the works essayed here. Geist’s gift was one of some expressive distinction; the texts he set, often – as here – Psalm settings respond well to his word painting though clearly he was not the equal of a German contemporary such as Buxtehude. His celebratory music - Exaudi Deus orationem is a good example – is not florid or ornate though it is attractively shaped and the 1671 setting Io, Musae, novo Sol rutilat has elements of staccato-legato style that keeps interest alive. Geist was a more than competent example of cosmopolitan music making; his academic training fused with Italian lyrical impulses to produce eventful, entertaining and stimulating music. Capella Rediviva’s vocal group, as I said, are let down by the recording acoustic which tends to emphasise some faults of voice production but they acquit themselves with attractive engagement.

Jonathan Woolf

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