MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around   2022
 57,903 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Martin Luther and Music
Bach-Chor Siegen, Johann Rosenmüller-Ensemble/Ulrich Stötzel
rec. October 2011, Martinikirche, Siegen.
CPO 555 098-2 [70:59]

2017 sees the five hundredth anniversary of the day when Martin Luther (allegedly) nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, the event that sparked off the Protestant Reformation. This anniversary is being marked across the cultural world, and it’s hardly surprising that the major contributions from the world of music are coming from Germany.

This collection, celebrating Luther’s impact on music, is a very good idea, and it gives full sung texts and their English translations throughout. However, it’s holed below the water-line by the very thin historical note. We get something about Luther himself and those who came after him, but we are told barely anything about the music itself or its relation to Luther, and so one is left to guess, unless one already has a pretty good deal of (very specialised) knowledge. I confess myself to have been totally lost in the instrumental numbers, lovely as they sound. That’s a real shame, very remiss in a release that inevitably has a strong historicist flavour, and it leaves me to suspect that others will probably do the job better this year.

The performances themselves are actually very good. Fabricius’ motet that opens the disc is full of bounce and jubilation, as befits the tone of the Psalm setting. The texture and tone reminded me a bit of Monteverdi, the cries of “Jauchzet!” putting me in mind of the more jubilant elements of the 1610 Vespers. ‘Non moriar, sed vivam’ has Luther’s own setting of words from Psalm 118, and blending it with plainchant reminds you that Luther was a man steeped in the Catholic musical tradition of his time.

Johann Walther was not only a contemporary of Luther, but also supervised the publication of the first Lutheran songbook for choir. His six-voice polyphony in ‘Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist’ is simple but very effective, and exemplifies the Lutheran principle that the words should be clearly audible. Schütz chose Luther’s translation of the 11th century antiphon Veni sancte spiritus for his sprightly motet ‘Komm, Heiliger Geist’. Eccard gives us lovely harmonisation in ‘Von Himmel Hoch’, and his ‘Verleih uns Frieden’ is steady and serious with a lovely brass line.

Praetorius’ vision of Isaiah Chapter 6 is beautifully sung, with a lively sense of question-and-answer to it. Rosenmüller’s setting of Psalm 84, ‘How Lovely are thy Dwelling Places’, uses small vocal forces but a lively, open-hearted instrumental line. The dance-like strain in the Osiander reminds you that Ein Feste Burg was based on popular folk melodies.

The climax of the disc is a cracking performance of Bach’s early cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden. It’s a prime candidate for inclusion because the text consists only of the words of Luther’s Easter hymn, and every movement uses, in some form or other, the chorale hymn that Luther wrote for it; not that you’d guess that from the booklet notes. Its performance is very good, brightly sung with impeccable diction, and with sparkling orchestral playing that brings to life all of Bach’s (dazzling) interpretations of Luther’s meanings.

However, for the reasons I’ve given above, I can’t whole-heartedly recommend this disc to anyone who doesn’t already have a solid knowledge of the culture of German Protestantism, and it bothers me to think that the thought and care that have been lavished on curating and performing the music will probably be sidelined by other more sensitively constructed collections this year. I wait with anticipation to see what might come next.

Simon Thompson


Werner Fabricius (1633-1679)
Jubilum Evangelorum Lutheranorum Jauchzet ihr Himmel
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Non moriar, sed vivam
Hans Neusiedler (c.1508-1563)
Dein hübsch und schön
Thomas Stoltzer (c.1480-1526)
Septimi toni
Johann Walter (1496-1570)
Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist
Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)
Komm, Heiliger Geist, SWV 417
Thomas Stoltzer
Terzii toni
Hans Neusiedler (c.1508-1563)
Der rechte Studententantz
Johann Eccard (1553-1611)
Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her
Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich
Michael Praetorius (1571-1621)
Jesaja dem Propheten das geschah
Johann Rosenmüller (1617-1684)
Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen
Lukas Osiander (1534-1604)
Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott
Le Maistre, Schütz, Bach
Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount