Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585 - 1672)
Schütz Edition: Volume 4
Anderer Theil kleiner geistlichen Concerten Op. 9 (1639)
Musikalische Exequien Op. 7 (1636)
Musicalia ad chorum sacrum, das ist Geistliche Chor-Music Op. 11 (1648)
Anna Mikolayczyk, Anna Niewidzial, Marzena Lubaszka, Kamila Kulakowska, Jana Reiner, Astrid Werner (sopranos) Rolf Ehlers (alto) Michael Schaffrath, Stephan Gahler (tenors) Walter Testolin, Johannes Schmidt (basses)
Arno Paduch (cornetto) Sebastian Krause, Kentaro Wada, Bernhard Ziesch, Ercole Nisini, Volkmar Jager, Sebastiano Ricci (trombones) Alessandro Osaria (organ)
Cappella Augustana/Matteo Messori (organ, spinettone, direction)
rec. July, August 2008, Church of Opawa, Poland
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 93972 [5 CDs: 53.54 + 44.44 + 59.42 + 62.03 + 49.54; plus CD-ROM] 

Brilliant Classics and the Capella Augustana under Matteo Messori continue their Schütz Edition with Volume 4 which includes three significant works from Schütz’s maturity. These are the Musicalisches Exequien, the Andere Theil kleiner geistlichen Concerten and the first volume of Geistliche Chor-Musik.  

The Musicalisches Exequien is a single, multi-movement work designed to be performed at a funeral service. It covers less than a CD and the remaining four and a bit CDs are filled with the other two works. These two are not single, multi-movement works, but simply published collections. Schütz would have been surprised to find all 31 of his Kleiner geistlichen Concerten performed in one go. 
Though Schütz was based in Dresden, and responsible for the large Protestant chapel there, he did find time for outside musical activities. One of these was to advise Prince Heinrich Posthumus of Gera-Reuss, on musical issues; Gera-Reuss was the area where Schütz was born. The Prince died in 1635 and Schütz wrote his Musicalisches Exequien for the Prince’s obsequies. Heinrich left detailed instructions about his funeral, but does not seem to have actually commissioned Schütz, his widow was responsible for this.
Schütz’s second volume of small sacred concertos (Anderer Theil kleiner geistlichen Concerten) was published in Leipzig in 1639. It contains a mixture of texts in Latin and in German. All the motets are for voices and continuo only except for the final two, all strongly Italian influenced. The motets use a variety of voices from one to five, with solo-voiced motets and duets being dominant. By the time the volume was printed brief hopes for the end to the Thirty Years War had vanished. In the introduction to the publication, Schütz explained that interest in music, and ability to pay for it in court chapels, was in decline because of the Thirty Years War. As a result, Schütz produced this collection of 31 motets which eschewed obbligato instruments.
1648 finally saw the end of the Thirty Years War. That same year, Schütz’s first volume of motets, (Geistliche Chor-Musik) was published in Dresden in 1648 but was dedicated to Leipzig City Council and the choir of the Thomas-Kirche. The motets in the collection are all in the stile antico, generally without basso continuo. In his printed introduction Schütz stated that the motets were intended as model compositions. A number of the final motets in the collection include obbligato instruments and one, Der Engel Sprach is version of a Latin sacred concerto by Andrea Gabrieli.
Messori and his group perform all the music one to a part, as would have been true at the time except for very grand occasions. For much of the time, Messori himself provides the continuo accompaniment. He seems to disregard the published continuo parts, which he says were produced by the publisher for marketing purposes, and confines himself generally to doubling the vocal parts.
The first CD covers the solo and duo movements from Op. 9, with the second CD providing the movements for three and four voices. Whilst there is something to be said for the idea of performing the music in the printed order, frankly by the time I came to CD 2 it was a relief to hear more than two voices. Then at the beginning of CD 3, we briefly hear instrumental contributions in the final two movements from Op. 9.
The Musikalische Exequien is perhaps one of Schütz’s best known works and as such should be considered separately. The performance here is creditable and fits in well with the general ethos behind this venture, in which there are distinct economic limitations to the recording process. But undoubtedly the solo movements are better taken on other discs. The inclusion here is necessary for the completeness of the edition, so Messori and his forces give the Musikalische Exequien a thoughtful but not brilliant performance. 
With the motets from the Geistliche Chor-Musik we again come up against the problems of performing them in the printed order. We start with four-voiced pieces, then move to five voices etc, with the motets with instrumental contributions coming last. On these latter the cornetti and trombones make a welcome contribution, though I was a bit worried about the balance with the voices sounding a little recessed. The ordering not only follows the motets voicing, but follows the church’s year starting in Advent and working onwards.
Messori has assembled a talented group, who perform the pieces creditably. Inevitably in an Edition like this, there are moments where things slip, for example the soprano duet, Habe deine Lust and dem Herren is not really convincing. But this is balanced by some strong singing in other places, including a series of superb contributions from the bass Walter Testolin.
The singers are recorded quite closely, but this generally matches the intimate nature of the music. Their diction is superb and you can frequently follow everything without the benefit of printed words. These performances are highly communicative of the text, which is exactly as it should be when performing Schütz.
There is some astonishing music on this disc, but it suffers somewhat from the sheer volume of material. I must confess that I rather wanted to like it more than I did; in theory though I love the idea of a complete Schütz Edition. Messori’s decision to perform the pieces in the simplest, plainest manner with no added instruments except where necessary is entirely admirable and does mean you concentrate on the music. But there were moments when I must confess that I longed for a little variety of texture, something with which to point up the special qualities of the work being performed.
There is a CD-ROM with the set which includes an article in English about Schütz and the music, Matteo Messori’s biography and full sung texts in the original language and English translations.
I can’t help but feel that this set is mainly for completists. The singing is mostly entirely creditable, and sometimes more, but not stunning enough to turn the 5 CD set into a bravura tour de force. But at Brilliant’s prices it is easy enough to buy the set and dip into it. My advice is to buy the set, download it to your chosen digital music medium and create your own playlists. The performances may sometimes be ordinary, but the music never fails to astonish.  

Robert Hugill
At Brilliant’s prices it is easy enough to buy the set and dip in. The performances may sometimes be ordinary, but the music never fails to astonish.
Full track details
Anderer Theil kleiner geistlichen Concerten Op. 9 (1639)
Ich will den Herren loben allezeit (1) [3.14]
Was hast du verwirket (5) [3.37]
O Jesu, nomen dulce (6) [3.37]
O misericordissime Jesu (7) [4.43]
Ich liege und schlafe (8) [3.46]
Habe deine Lust an dem Herren (1, 3) [4.59]
Herr, ich hoffe darauf (1, 2) [3.20]
Bone Jesu, verbum Patris (1, 2) [4.57]
Verbum caro factum est (1, 2, 9) [4.07]
Hodie Christus natus est (1, 6) [3.55]
Wann unsre Augen schlafen ein (4, 8) [2.56]
Meister, wir haben die ganze Nacht gearbeitet (6, 7) [2.18]
Die Furcht des Herren (6, 7) [2.17]
Ich beuge meine Knie (8, 9) [3.25]
Ich bin jung gewesen (8, 9) [2.29]
Herr, wann ich nur dich habe (1, 3, 6) [3.05]
Rorate coeli desuper (1, 2, 8) [2.32]
Joseph, du Sohn David (1, 2, 8) [2.52]
Ich bin die Auferstehung (6, 7, 8) [4.13]
Die Seele Christi heilige mich (5, 6, 8) [4.32]
Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ [2.31]
Allein Gott in der Höh sei Her [3.58]
Veni, Sancte Spiritus [4.38]
Ist Gott für uns [3.14]
Wer will uns scheiden von der Liebe Gottes [3.29]
Die Stimm des Herren [4.11]
Jubilate Deo omnis terra [5.25]
Sei gegrüsset, Maria (Dialogus) [5.58]
Was betrübst du dich [3.38]
Quemadmodum desiderat cervus [8.09]
Aufer immensam, Deus, aufer iram [7.32]
Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585 - 1672)
Musikalische Exequien Op. 7 (1636)
Nacket bin ich vom Mutterleibe kommen [4.08]
Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt [0.50]
Capella: Er sprach seinem lieben Sohn [1.03]
Das Blut Jesu Christi (10, 7) [1.33]
Capella: Durch ihn ist uns vergeben [0.33]
Unser Wandel ist im Himmel (11, 8) [1.38]
Capella: Es ist allhier ein Jammerthal [1.24]
Wenn eure Sünde gleich blutroth ware (6, 7) [1.29]
Capella: Sein Wort, sein Tauf, sein Nachtmahl [0.33]
Gehe hin, mein Volk, in eine Kammer (5) [0.45]
Der Gerechten Seelen sind in Gottes Hand (10, 11, 8) [1.25]
Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe [1.28]
Capella: Er ist das Heil und selig Licht [1.10]
Unser Leben währet siebenzig Jahr (8, 9) [1.55]
Capella: Ach wie elend ist unser Zeit allhier auf dieser Erden [1.33]
Ich weiss, dass mein Erlöser lebt (6) [0.48]
Capella: Weil du vom Tod erstanden bist [0.46]
Herr, ich lasse dich nicht [1.01]
Capella: Er sprach zu mir: halt dich an mich [1.36]
Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe [3.42]
Herr nun lässest du deinen Diener in Friede fahren [5.05]
Musicalia ad chorum sacrum, das ist Geistliche Chor-Music Op. 11 (1648)
Es wird das Szepter von Juda (Erster Theil) [2.54]
Er wird sein Kleid in Wein waschen (Anderer Theil) [2.32] 
Es ist erschienen die heilsame Gnade Gottes [4.26]
Verleih uns Frieden genädiglich (Erster Theil) [2.33]
Gieb unsern Fürsten (Anderer Theil) [2.13]
Unser keiner lebet ihm selber [3.44]
Viel werden kommen [3.01]
Sammlet zuvor das Unkraut [1.42]
Herr, auf dich traue ich [3.17]
Die mit Tränen säen [4.03]
So fahr ich hin zu Jesu Christ [3.27]
Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt (Aria) [3.11]
O lieber Herre Gott [3.42]
Tröstet, tröstet mein Volk [3.54]
Ich bin eine rufende Stimme [4.18]
Ein Kind ist uns geboren [3.42]
Das Wort ward Fleisch [4.17]
Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes [5.08]
Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr (Aria) [9.25]
Das ist je gewisslich wahr [4.52]
Ich bin ein rechter Weinstock [4.03]
Unser Wandel ist im Himmel [4.19]
Selig sind die Toten [4.40]
Was mein Gott will, das gscheh allzeit [4.23]
Ich weiss, dass mein Erlöser lebt [2.59]
Sehet an den Feigenbaum [4.04]
Der Engel sprach zu den Hirten (super Angelus ad pastores Andreae Gabrielis) [2.46]
Auf dem Gebirge [4.46]
Du Schalksknecht [3.33]