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Gottfried August HOMILIUS (1714-1785)
Habe deine Lust an dem Herrn: Motets II
Track listing below review
Sirventes Berlin/Stefan Schuck
rec. October and November 2013, Christuskirche, Berlin
Texts and translations included
CARUS 83.266 [54:06]

Homilius’ time in Dresden has been conspicuously well served by Carus of late. In this second volume devoted to his Motets (review of Volume 1) – all written in that city, which seems to have been far more receptive to the form than was Leipzig – listeners are once again introduced to this intriguing composer who spanned older and new forms of composition without ever losing his sense of individuality.

The motets, all written before 1770, are typical in one regard which is that homophonic sections prove the dominant feature. Harmonies are expressive but also very direct. There are fugues to demonstrate – however modestly – Homilius’ technical expertise, and not for nothing had he been a student of JS Bach. There are vocal solos, some with substantial and taxing leaps. There are also three Latin motets in a predominantly German language selection, which might seem odd, but they represented the continuing Protestant Vesper tradition in Germany and would have been heard in Leipzig in this fashion and at this time.

Yet it is the German motets that prove the most exciting. Habe deine Lust an dem Herrn is an introit mass and a real virtuoso choral display piece, redolent of the organ chorale in its amplitude but also in the technical accomplishment it displays in layering voices. It inaugurates a 54-minute programme of great richness and verve. The operatic divisions to be encountered in Kommt her und sheet an die Wunder Gottes where the two-part motet demands razor sharp articulation in the fugue, also attest to near-glamorous extroversion of the writing. More sober, however, is Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot with its solo role, and its absolute directness when it comes to amplifying text. The a capella Magnificat in C belongs to the Saturday Vespers, a most propitious time for Motet performance and Homilius’ example marries elegance and refinement with vocal density.

One of the most impressive examples of Homilius’ adaptability and rightness of expression is his funeral motet Die richtig für sich gewandelt haben. This beautiful, lucid setting is cast in several movements and sports chorale verses and an ‘aria’. It remains unique in his output, deriving from an altogether older tradition. Der Herr ist meine Stärke redresses the balance in favour of joyfulness in settings.

Indeed joy and variety are the primary indices of this selection of his motets. They are beautifully sung by Sirventes Berlin under their director Stefan Schuck who has the knack of always finding the right-sounding tempo, and of cultivating the right weight of expression throughout. Once again the Christuskirche Berlin proves a perfect venue acoustically. Indeed this Carus series continues to prove most impressive in restoring Homilius’ works to the catalogue.

Jonathan Woolf

Track listing
Habe deine Lust an dem Herrn, HoWV V.42 [4:11]
Kommt her und sheet an die Wunder Gottes, HoWV V.21 [3:36]
Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot, HoWV V.3 [3:36]
Die Elenden sollen essen, HoWV V.10 [2:41]
Domine ad adiuvandum me, HoWV IV.1 [1:32]
Magnificat in C, HoWV IV.3 [9:31]
Deo dicamus gratias, HoWV IV.2 [1:00]
Ich will den Herrn loben, HoWV V.17 [3:01]
Mirhast du Arbeit gemacht, HoWV V.47 [3:37]
Dennoch bleib ich stets an dir, HoWV V.6 [4:13]
Die richtig für sich gewandelt haben, HoWV V.38 [3:42]
Lasset euch begnü gen, HoWV V.23 [2:13]
Wo ist ein solcher Gott, HoWV V.32 [2:38]
Der Herr ist meine Stärke, HoWV V.7 [5:01]
Siehe, des Herrn Auge siehet, HoWV V.52 [3:27]



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