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Samuel SCHEIDT (1587-1654)
Ludi Musici (1620): Canzon XXVIII super “O Nachbar Roland” [6:05]; Courant XXXII (ad imitationem courant XVII) [1:55]; Courant XVII [1:21]; Courant XXIII [1:59]; Canzon XXIX super Cantionem Gallicam [5:04]; Paduan dolorosa XV [3:07]; Paduan V [5:03]; Courant dolorosa IX [2:39]; Canzon XXX super “Intradam Aethiopicam’ Galliard VII [1:14]; Galliard XXIV (ad imitationem galliard VII) [1:28]; Galliard XVI [1:28]; Allemand XVI [1:24]; Canzon Cornetto XVII [3:38]; Paduan VI [5:36]; Intrada XXII [3:45]; Galliard XXV [2:48]; Galliard Battaglia XXI [3:36]
Les Sacqueboutiers
rec: September 2004, The Chapel of Military School, Soreze, France



Schütz, Schein and Scheidt were the three great Germans of the late renaissance. Of the three it is Scheidt who is the least well known and his music is the least performed.

I once arrived a little late for an organ recital and an interminably long set of variations was in progress. I whispered to the man next to me “Is this Scheidt?” to which he responded “It most certainly is”! Unfortunately it is that kind of puerile impression that has often lingered long in the listener’s imagination.

Well this delightful and superbly performed CD should dispel any rancid views you may have about Samuel Scheidt. These pieces have given me, in just the few weeks I have been acquainted with them, considerable pleasure. So they should as that was exactly their purpose. In total there were thirty-two pieces so why oh why did they only record seventeen?. The series was eventually published in four volumes in Hamburg. They were written for Scheidt’s promotion to the position of court Kapellmeister to the Archbishop of Magdeburg of Halle where Scheidt had been born. These pieces were his calling-card in the world of bourgeois light entertainment, music to eat by, to dance to, to court to, even to talk over. And as if eager to ingratiate, each piece is dedicated to a well-known member of the Halle court or to one of the Royal Chapel.

The booklet, which slips into the cardboard case of this beautifully presented disc, has an essay by Jean-Pierre Canihac who also plays cornet. This booklet is full of the most delicious illustrations and much care has been lavished upon it. Photos of the performers and the recording session appear alongside early 17th Century portraits of sackbut players. There are also pictures of the instruments in their various shapes and sizes including a beautiful one of a pair of lutes which are also members of this predominantly wind ensemble. The booklet is most delightful both to read through and to look at.

The pieces are placed in the order decided by the whim of the performers. This means that we are treated to an interesting contrast of speeds, textures and instrumental combinations. I can’t highlight each piece but here are a few that especially struck me.

The disc opens with an impressive and slightly sombre ‘Canzon’ with the curious title ‘Super ‘O nachbar Roland’. This song, made popular in Germany after 1603, came from England where it was known as ‘My Lord Willoughby’s Welcome home’ and was set by William Byrd to name but one. The ‘Galliard Battaglia’ which ends the disc, not surprisingly, uses percussion and is in a rather jolly triple time. In addition it’s also quite a show-piece for the top cornet; listen also to the guitar strumming away. The ‘Paduan’ by the way is a Pavan and the two examples here are noble and ceremonial.

‘La Canzon Cornetto’ [tr.13] is of Italian inspiration and was dedicated to the court cornettist Zacharias Hartel. It is for two fine players and gives us a good idea of the brilliant standard of performers Scheidt found at court. It was from Italy, or more especially Venice, probably via Schütz, that such cornetto playing spread across Europe. Scheidt does not always specify the brass, indeed he seems to prefer the viols according to the score. The use of continuo appears to indicate that an indoor setting for the music was expected but there is no doubt that Cornetti and Sackbuts work perfectly in all pieces. That said, it is interesting that for track 3 the ‘Courant XVII’ Les Sacqueboutiers opt for the strings to play a more significant role. This works beautifully.

The Canzonas were at first often longish pieces in several sections; to a certain extent that is the case here. The one subtitled super ‘Intradam Aethiopicam’ is a happy little imitative piece and like all of the Canzonas, is based on a popular song. In Scheidt’s case these sections generally do not change time and tempi all that often and tend to be more continuous. This one briefly falls into triple time before reverting to its opening.

So, an enjoyable disc, wonderfully played by experienced and virtuoso performers, beautifully presented and recorded. Well worth searching out.

Gary Higginson 

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