MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

CD: Crotchet AmazonUK AmazonUS



Machet die Tore weit - Baroque Christmas Cantatas from Central Germany
Johann SCHELLE (1648-1701) Machet die Tore weit [8:27]
Basilius PETRITZ (1647-1715) Die Herrlichkeit des Herrn [13:00]
Philipp Heinrich ERLEBACH (1657-1714) Fürchtet euch nicht [9:58]
Christian August JACOBI (1688- after 1725) Also hat Gott die Welt geliebet [10:23]
Christian LIEBE (1654-1708) O Heiland aller Welt [7:39]
Johann Ernst BESSEL (1654-1732) Komm, du schöne Freudenkrone [8:05]
Birte Kulawik (soprano I); Dorothea Wagner (soprano II); David Erler (contralto); Hans Jörg Mammel (tenor); Matthias Lutze (bass)
Sächsisches Vocalensemble; Batzdorfer Hofkapell/Matthias Jung
rec. Lukaskirche, Dresden, 8-11 June 2007. DDD
German texts and English translations included
CPO 777 332-2 [57:55]

Experience Classicsonline

As Gerhard Poppe remarks in his very useful booklet notes, in terms of Lutheran church music the period between Schütz and Bach was "long regarded as a sort of interim period hardly meriting more than purely historical interest." I suspect that this attitude stemmed, in part at least, from sheer ignorance of much of the music composed in late seventeenth century Germany. However, in recent years that lacuna of knowledge has gradually been filled, at least partially, not least through recordings such as this present one.

Poppe tells us that all the pieces on this disc are included in a substantial library of music originally assembled at the Fürsten- und Landesschule St. Augustin in Grimma, Central Saxony and which is now lodged in the Sächsische Landesbibliotek - Staats- und Universitäts-bibliotek in Dresden. He explains that, as was common practice in smaller German towns in the period, compositions by composers not connected with the place itself were copied for use in local services. Thus the music on this CD comes from the pens of a variety of composers. Much of it was probably added to the Grimma collection during the time that Samuel Jacobi (1653-1721) was Kantor there – he served from 1680 until his death.

The works assembled here, all of which are quite short, follow the style of the concerto-aria cantata, or variants on the form, Poppe tells us. I think it would be fair to say that none of these works seems to break significant new ground. Rather, they sit firmly in the tradition of Lutheran church music, as it existed before Bach’s time. In most cases the instrumental scoring is fairly modest but several of the works employ festive trumpets and drums.

The opening work is one such. Indeed, it makes an absolutely splendid opening to the programme. Johann Schelle was a predecessor of Bach as Kantor at the Thomasschule in Leipzig, serving from 1677. His cantata, Machet die Tore weit (‘Open wide the gates’) was written for the First Sunday in Advent. It begins with an exuberant tutti in which the trumpets and drums are prominent. There follow four fluent verses, one each for the four soloists with continuo and all using the same musical material. After all four of them have combined in a fifth verse the opening tutti is restated. The performance here is hugely enjoyable and really whets the appetite for the rest of the programme.

Basilius Petritz was Kantor of the Kreuzschule in Dresden from 1694. His Die Herrlichkeit des Herrn (‘The glory of the Lord’) is also an Advent piece, this time for the Third Sunday. Unlike Schelle, he opens with an instrumental sinfonia before a relatively substantial chorus, which is reprised at the end. In this piece, again unlike Schelle’s, each of the solo verses has different music. The soprano verse is particularly plaintive and Birte Kulawik does it justice – but it’s only fair to point out at once that all her colleagues acquit themselves well too, here and elsewhere.

The next piece, Fürchtet euch nicht (‘Do not fear’) is by Philipp Heinrich Erlebach. Though it doesn’t say so in the notes, I infer from the words of the first solo verse that it’s a Christmas Day piece. The opening tutti is joyful, with trumpets and drums well to the fore, and much is made of lively rhythms. In fact Erlebach uses lilting compound time rhythms throughout the cantata and does so to very good effect. It’s a most engaging and attractive work. The fourth verse, a tutti, is especially smiling and culminates in a short, brisk fugato Amen.

Also hat Gott die Welt geliebet (‘God so loved the world’) is by Christian August Jacobi, the son of the aforementioned Samuel Jacobi. It may be that the piece won its place in the Grimma collection due to his father’s influence but, to be honest, I think it justified inclusion in the library on its own merits. It’s more lightly scored than most of the other pieces here recorded – trumpets and drums are absent – and the structure is more unusual. The fairly substantial first movement begins with the four soloists, joined later by the choir. The music here is quite thoughtful, as befits the text – the words are the same as those employed much later in Stainer’s famous chorus. In a couple of movements Jacobi uses the great Lutheran hymn, Von Himmel hoch: the second verse is a short fugue on a melodic fragment from the hymn and the concluding verse employs the familiar melody. In between come a couple of duets and a short, lithe chorus. The second of these duets is for soprano and alto. I bow to the experience of Matthias Jung but it seems to me that the brisk tempo he adopts is at odds with both the words and the music; both seem to invite a gently lilting lullaby.

Christian Liebe’s O Heiland aller Welt (‘O Saviour of all the world’) is more Lutheran in tone than the other works on this CD in that the texts of the first two strophic verses – one each for soprano and tenor soloist – ponder the wretched sinfulness of man. The mood changes for the third and fourth verses, also strophic, which reflect on Redemption through the birth of Christ. Finally the final verse, for which different music is provided and in which the chorus and all the soloists join, celebrates the triumph of the Christian over the flames of hell. The music here is suitably extrovert.

The programme is completed by Johann Ernst Bessel’s Komm, du schöne Freudenkrone (‘Come, you beautiful crown of joy’). To judge by its text, which uses the metaphor of the eagerly awaited bridegroom, as does Bach in his cantata Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme BWV 140, this is another Advent piece. This is the only piece that uses more than a quartet of soloists for a second soprano, Dorothea Wagner, a member of the Sächsisches Vocalensemble, is brought in to sing the last aria in the piece, a florid and jubilant proclamation with a particularly demanding tessitura. Miss Wagner’s voice is somewhat piping in tone but that’s not inappropriate for a piece that would have been written for a boy treble and she copes very well with the cruel demands of the aria. The final section of the cantata sets three verses of Von Himmel hoch followed by a fugal Amen and so the disc ends as joyously as it began.

I’d not heard any of this music before, with the exception of the Schelle offering. It would be idle to pretend that any of it rivals the genius of Bach, or Schütz for that matter, but it’s all extremely well crafted, often very interesting and always most enjoyable. The performances are a delight. The solo work is extremely good; the twelve-strong choir is light and clean in tone and their spirited singing gives great pleasure. The playing of the small Batzdorfer Hofkapell is crisp and stylish and Matthias Jung directs the proceedings with skill and evident enthusiasm.

Production values are very high. The recorded sound is exemplary in its clarity; the artwork is both appropriate and excellent; and the booklet notes, which are in German, English and French are interesting and informative – it should be noted, however, that there’s no French translation of the texts. I’d describe this project as scholarly but without any academic dryness.

This unfamiliar music is most enjoyable and it’s very well served by these sparkling performances.

John Quinn






Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.