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Ich will schweigen : Johann Hermann Schein and the Leipzig Stadtpfeifer tradition
Full detailed contents after review
Alice Foccroulle (soprano)
Béatrice Mayo-Felip (soprano)
Reinoud Van Mechelen (tenor)
Marc Meisel (organ: a = 440-442 Hz; tuned in meantone temperament with 7 pure thirds (D#/ E-flat at compromise pitch)).
InAlto/Lambert Colson
rec. January 2014, Gottorf Castle, Schleswig, Germany. DDD.
CD booklet includes texts and translations - not supplied with download.
Reviewed as 24-bit lossless download, also available in mp3 and 16-bit lossless.
RAMÉE RAM1401 [62:42]

Johann Hermann Schein, Kantor of the church of Saint Thomas in Leipzig from 1616, was one of a group of North German composers who were sensible to the new style coming out of Italy. Of that group Schütz is the best known.  It’s high time that Schein, Scheidt and Demantius also came into their own.  There are several recordings of Schein’s Israels Brünnlein (Fontana d’Israel) – review of most recent* – and there are recordings of his lighter music, Banchetto Musicale of 1617 (in A Musical Banquet, Hesperion XX on a Virgin/Erato budget twofer 5620282, with music by the Gabrielis and Scheidt), so this recording which casts its net wider is very welcome.

The sub-title of this collection is Johann Hermann Schein and the Leipzig Stadtpfeifer tradition, since he uses instruments such as the cornet, trombone and dulcian, as employed by the Stadtpfeifer and Ratsmusiker, guilds of instrumentalists attached to the City of Leipzig since the 15th century. As Schein was J.S. Bach’s predecessor at the Thomaskirche, the programme ends appropriately with JSB’s music, taking in Johann Schelle, Gottfried Reiche and others along the way and thus providing an interesting pendant to the Carus recording of Bach’s predecessors:Thomaskantoren vor Bach (83.342 – review and review).

The music is all attractive: apart from the opening work, included in the Banchetto Musicale, and the other short instrumental pieces interspersed, all Schein’s music here is religious.  Some of the works attributed to Schütz may actually be music which he brought back from Venice.  There’s no such problem of attribution with any of the music in this programme; it’s often highly indebted to the likes of the Gabrielis, but none the worse for that.   There’s no indication that the Thirty Years War was devastating swathes of North Germany at the time – none of the sparsity of scoring found in Schütz’s Passions of the period.

Several of the works included here have no rivals in the current UK catalogue.  Performances from the three soloists and the instrumentalists make a strong case for this repertoire and the late 16th-century organ of Gottorf Castle is ideal for the music.

The 24-bit download from sounds fine but the lack of a booklet is a serious problem.  The download is in mp3 only but comes with booklet.  Subscribers to Naxos Music Library will also find the booklet there.  It contains the texts in German and Latin with English and French translations.  The English versions are not always idiomatic: the Book of Common Prayer offers a more poetic version of Ich will schweigen (Psalm 39) and one more in keeping with Luther’s German: I became dumb, and opened not my mouth; for it was thy doing./Take thy plague away from me: I am even consumed by the means of thy heavy hand./When thou with rebukes dost chasten man for sin, thou makest his beauty to consume away, like as it were a moth fretting a garment: every man therefore is but vanity.

This is a collection to which I shall be returning.

* I’m also pleased to see Konrad Junghänel’s benchmark recording with Cantus Cölln back in circulation at mid-price (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 88697568802).

Brian Wilson

Detailed contents :
Johann Hermann SCHEIN (1586-1630) Canzon a5 ‘Corollarium’ (1615) [4:19]; Ich will schweigen [5:53]
Johann KRIEGER (1652-1735) Fantasia in d (1697) [1:50]
Johann Hermann SCHEIN Exaudiat te Dominus (1626) [8:16]; Suite VII (1617) [7:48]
Heinrich BACH (1615-1692) Erbarm dich mein, O Herre Gott [3:05]
Johann Hermann SCHEIN Erbarm dich mein, O Herre Gott (1618) [3:25]
Gottfried REICHE (1667-1734) Fuga XII à 4 (1696) [3:13]
Johann Hermann SCHEIN Herr Christ, der einig Gottes Sohn (1618) [1:58]
Johann SCHELLE (1648-1701) Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland [2:15]
Gottfried REICHE Sonatina à 4 (1696) [3:21]
Johann Hermann SCHEIN Mach dich auf, werde Licht (1626) [6:32]; Paduana à 4 (1617) [2:09]
Heinrich SCHEIDEMANN (1595-1663) In dich hab ich gehoffet, Herr [5:42]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Fuga sopra Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt, BWV705 [2:47]