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Gottfried August HOMILIUS (1714-1785) Cantatas Warum toben die Heiden, HoWV II.31 [13:13] Frohlocke, Zion, die Erlöser HoWV II.5 [19:02] In der Zeit meiner Not HoWV II.37 [16:23] Kommt, frohe Völker, herzu HoWV II.40 [11:57] Steig, Allgewaltiger, von deinem festen Sitze HoWV II.43 [10:01]
Marie-Pierre Roy (soprano): Henriette Gödde (alto): Knut Schoch (tenor): Markus Köhler (bass)
Handel’s Company and Handel’s Company Choir/Rainer Johannes Homburg
rec. July 2013, Erlöserkirche Stuttgart
Notes and translations included CARUS 83.267 [71:10]
Carus’ commitment to the music of Gottfried August Homilius has been one of their greatest contributions to the recorded repertoire over the last few years
(see below). It has succeeded in re-establishing his standing and his musical probity. It has also revealed the breadth of his musical imagination That 2014 was the tercentenary of his birth added obvious anniversary implications to the many discs that have been issued. I hope that the coming years see more such and, indeed, competing versions from other labels convinced by his achievement.
Homilius wrote a significant number of cantatas for Sundays and Feast Days. Given that there are 180 surviving works, Carus has had to sift them, and has chosen to present them following the order of the church year. There are five cantatas, each one full of interest. Fortunately Rainer Johannes Homburg was enlisted to direct one of Germany’s zestiest and most stylish early music ensembles, Handel’s Company with its choir.
Warum toben die Heiden (Why do the heathen rage) is a New Year cantata focusing on Joseph’s flight to Egypt with Jesus and Mary. The ‘threat’ chorus is finely judged, and is full of taut power which is finely articulated by the choir. Soprano Marie-Pierre Roy sings with pure tone. For the third Advent Sunday Homilius composed Frohlocke, Zion, die Erlöser, a festive piece but with a contemplative setting again with one solo, here given to the first-class alto Henriette Gödde.
The melancholy instrumental introduction to In der Zeit meiner Not is especially notable and very unusual in Homilius’ writing. Opening without a chorus certainly has precedent but the concentrated nature of the instrumental writing possibly does not. A companion work here, Steig, Allgewaltiger, von deinem festen Sitze opens without an opening chorus, as such, but with a tenor recitative and chorus. In der Zeit is one of the most impressive works and if tenor Knut Schoch sounds a touch pinched at the top when punching out his recitative, it’s of small account. The more jubilatory side of things can be experienced in Kommt, frohe Völker, herzu, a brief setting enshrining a round dance in its opening, and a tenor and bass (Markus Köhler) duet. The orchestration is especially delicate here, whereas the horns bubble away happily in the finale.
The sound quality is well judged throughout and there are no mushy choral entries or too swimmy an acoustic. This is another fine addition to the Homilius discography.