Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585-1672) Mourning Music
Musikalische Exequien [29:56]
Ich bin die Auferstehung und das Leben [3:02]
Grimmige Gruft [6:51]
Gutes und Barmherzigkeit [3:26]
Ich hab mein Sach Gott himmelgestellt [11:55]
Das ist je gewisslich wahr [4:26]
O meine Seel, warum bist du betrübet [7:49]
Dorothee Mields, Anja Zügner (sopranos)
Alexander Schneider (counter-tenor)
Jan Kobow, Tobias Mäthger (tenors)
Harry van der Kamp, Matthias Lutze (basses)
Matthias Müller (violin)
Ludger Rémy (organ)
Dresdner Kammerchor/Hans-Christoph Rademann
rec. Stadt-Kirche ”Zum Heiligen Nammen Gottes”, May 2011
CARUS 83.238 [68:24]
The Dresdner Kammerchor’s admirable project to record the complete works of Schütz (they should be finished in 2017) continues with this disc of his funeral music. It includes what must be his most famous work, the Musikalische Exequien. This was written in 1636 for the funeral of a Saxon Count and it sets texts, from the Bible and from religious writers such as Luther. The deceased had arranged to have these engraved on his copper coffin, a picture of which is reproduced in the CD booklet. Schütz produced a compendium of the religious styles of his time in the 23-minute long opening section, sung with precision and beauty by the Dresdners. However, the choir are even finer in the subsequent two sections which meditate on the destiny of the righteous. The final movement sets the German text of the Nunc Dimittis as a solemn chorale, while a group of soloists offsets it by singing “Blessed are the dead” from the Book of Revelation. Here, as throughout the disc, the choir’s expertise with this style is self-evident and the Radeberg church acoustic serves the music like a tailor-made suit. It is expertly captured by the Carus engineers.
Fine as this performance is, many Schütz aficionados will want this disc for the other items, four of which are world premiere recordings. Some are beautiful in their simplicity, such as Ich bin die Auferstehung and Das ist je gewisslich wahr. They find the choir singing at their soulful best. Others are more straightforward strophic settings, like O meine Seel or Grimmige Gruft, a motet for solo soprano - sung with silver purity by Dorothee Mields - for which Schütz himself wrote the text. For me the most interesting thing on the disc is the motet for five singers, Ich hab mein Sach Gott heimgestellt, written for the funeral of the composer’s sister-in-law. It sets eighteen verses of text, meditating on everything from the transitory nature of life to the bliss of eternity. The music circulates around a ground bass and so effectively operates as a massive passacaglia. It’s thoughtful, moving and evocative, and, like the music on the rest of this disc, very beautifully sung. This disc deserves to win more fans for Rademann’s great project, as well as for the composer himself.
Thoughtful, moving and evocative … very beautifully sung.