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CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Sacred Concerti
Johann Hermann SCHEIN (1586-1630)
Siehe das ist mein Knecht
Uns is ein kind geboren’ [4.57]
Also heilig ist der Tag [5.03]
Tobias MICHAEL (1592-1657)
Wo, der Herr nicht das Haus bewet
Kommether zu mir [5.32]
Das ist ein kostlich ding [3.01]
We lieblich sind auff den Bergen [8.07]
Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585-1672)
Anima mea
liquefacta est [8.30]
Siehe wie und lieblich ists [6.59]
Matthaeus REYMANN (c.1540-1602)
for solo lute; Preludium 1 [1.31]
Heinrich SCHEIDERMANN (1595-1663)
O Got, wir danken deiner Güt
Herzlich lieb hab ich dich [2.27]
Emily Van Evera (soprano); Esther Levin (soprano); Angus Davidson (alto); Julian Podger (tenor); Ian Honeyman (tenor); Richard Wistreich (bass)
Circa 1500 (Nancy Hadden (renaissance flute); Catherine Mackintosh (violin); Elizabeth Walker (flute, recorder); Sally Holman (dulcian); Susan Addison (alto sackbut); Emily White (tenor sackbut); Lucas Harris (lute, theorbo); Robert Howard (organ))/Nancy Hadden
rec. All Saints Church, East Finchley, London, 8-10 September 2007
CRD 3516 [75.34]
Experience Classicsonline

This disc sets about presenting various sacred concerti by composers working mostly in Leipzig during the period of the Thirty Year’s War (1618-1648). Original instruments are used as specified by the composers.

Nancy Hadden especially wanted to put together a programme of concerti which specifically uses the renaissance flute of which she has made a study. Amongst the composers’ names are a few which may be little known. They include Tobias Michael whose setting of Psalm 127 for voices and instruments ends the disc. It is a typical example of the genre with the verses broken up with instrumental sections adding variety. Rather interestingly Hadden points out that the transverse flute when partnered by the violin is played with the second part down but up an octave. It is therefore above the violin’s melody and so creates a descant to it.

This is Circa 1500’s fourth disc for CRD. Back in the 1980s when they began recording for CRD, the group comprised a small instrumental set-up concentrating on the early 16th century as their name implies and normally using just one singer: Emily van Evera. For this recording they are augmented to six singers and eight instrumentalists. This allows more colour which is suitable for this repertoire. Nancy Hadden has assembled some of the finest early music singers and instrumentalists available and they are a joy to hear. Just listen to the performance of Tobias Michael’s setting of a section of St. Matthew Chapter 11 ‘Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden”. It uses a bassoon continuo. Michael’s Psalm 92 setting ‘It is good to give thanks unto the Lord” - “Das ist en kostlich Ding”- has theorbo and lute playing continuo. Although this is pleasing music, despite what Hadden implies in her notes it is not, to my mind, overly expressive.

However everything goes up another notch when listening to Heinrich Schütz. His intense, perhaps Monteverdian setting of ‘Anima mea liquefacta est’ from the Song of Songs includes a significant part for the flute. It is the longest work on the CD. The text includes the lines “His lips are like lilies, dropping sweet myrrh”. I can’t help but think how much more sensuous it would have sounded if set for or indeed performed by two sopranos as Lully was to do fifty or so years later. Instrumental sections again, split the verses almost commenting upon them. The other concerto/motet by Schütz is his exultant setting of the brief Psalm 133 (‘Sieh wie feinund lieblich ists’) which opens the disc. It was written to celebrate his brother’s wedding in 1619 soon after his return from studies in Italy and is scored, unusually, for two flutes with continuo.

In his Opella Nova of 1619 and 1626 Johann Hermann Schein specified his preferred instrumentation. This included the continuo, so we find the trio sonata texture of violin, transverse flute and bassoon. In addition he also asked for a plucked instrument to double the organ which also offered the possibility of alto trombone on the bass line. Circa 1500 utilize these combinations, with the trombone accompanying the clear, ringing tones of Ian Honeyman in the Christmas concerto setting of Isaiah ‘Uns ist ein kind geboren’. The expressive Julian Podger in ‘Al so heileg is der Tag’ - an Easter concerto - is impressive; similarly in ‘Siehe das ist mein knecht’ also a text from Isaiah. The versatile Schein, who wrote much purely instrumental music, was a friend of Schütz and a pupil of Rogier Michael the father of the aforementioned Tobias.

The other composers represented are also not that well known and, curiously, they are not mentioned in the accompanying booklet. Henrich Scheidermann a North German organist is represented by two short organ works based on choral melodies. By contrast we encounter Matthaeus Reymann through two brief and simple lute pieces in the imitative style of the mid-16th Century.

Incidentally the CD lasts ten minutes longer than the jewel-case claims. All texts are enclosed and there are good translations. There is a useful essay by Nancy Hadden herself and the recording is clear and nicely balanced. It’s good to have a new CRD early music disc on the market.

Gary Higginson



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