Fresh Performances Enliven Praetorius Choral Concerts

Would the Protestant Reformation have been as successful without the genius of Michael Praetorius? Fortunately, we’ll never know.

Praetorius adopted the Lutheran principles of simplicity and clarity into his music. The result was an impressive — and impressively varied — the body of sacred music that’s still found in hymnals today.

This release features settings of hymn tunes by Martin Luther and Johnn Micheel Nicolai. while Praetorius’ harmonizations are still used, his rhythms aren’t. Many hymnals present his music in stolid, even meter.

Jochen Arnold recaptures the original vitality of these works. He leads his ensemble the Gli Scarlattisti and the Capella Principale in spirited performances.

These tunes have a lightness and almost dance-like quality to them. Two examples: “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott “moves along briskly with transparent two-part counterpoint. The mixed meters of “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” echo those found in Praetorius’ “Terpsichore.

The performances strip away centuries of staid tradition and make these hymns sound fresh and exciting. As (I like to think) they were when first performed.

Michael Praetorius: Gloria sei dir gesungen
Chorale concerts after hymns by Luther and Nicolai
Gli Scarlattisti, Capella Principale
Jochen Arnold, director
Carus 83.482

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