Heinichen Masses show Italian Influences
This release features the final two surviving masses of Johann David Heinichen, written in 1728 the year of his
death. Heinichen spent several years Venice learning the Italian style, and it shows. When he returned to
Germany in the employ of the Crown Prince of Saxony, he wrote Italianate operas and other large-scale choral
The two masses on this release are full-blown “number masses.” Each section’s text, such as the Credo or
Gloria, is broken down into smaller phrases, and each phrase set to its own piece of music.
The Italian influence is quite strong — to my ears these masses resembled those of Alessandro Scarlatti. Like
Scarlatti, the dramatic power of the music owes much to the operatic conventions of the day. Heinichen’s
melodies are wonderfully lyrical and expressive. But Heinichen’s German background is present, too. While the
solo sections are sinuously fluid, the choral sections feature rigorously constructed counterpoint that looks
ahead to Bach.
Hans-Cristoph Rademann leads his forces with a sure hand; the Dresdener Barockorchester performs with a
restrained energy that seems appropriate for works intended for worship services. The Dresdner Kammerchor has a
clean ensemble sound, which made it easy to follow the polyphony.
If you like the sacred works of Scarlatti, Handel, or Telemann, then there’s a lot hear that you should enjoy
as well. I did.
Johann David Heinichen: Messen Missa No. 11 in D major; Missa No. 12 in D major
Dresdner Kammerchor; Dresdner Barockorchester; Hans-Christoph Rademann, conductor