Heinrich Schütz: Becker-Spalter – Artistry on Every Page

In 1602 theologian Cornelius Becker wrote a German metrical psalter.  Der Psalter Davids Gesangweis was published without melodies. The collection proved popular, and  Becker set all 150 psalms for the 1628 edition.

Psalmen Davids: Hiebevorn in Deutsche Reimen gebracht durch was reprinted in 1640 and revised and expanded in 1661.

Several early Lutheran composers set Becker’s texts for liturgical use — Heinrich Schutz being the most successful. Some of his settings still appear in modern hymnals.

The words — and the music — were meant for congregational singing. Schütz’s artistry is present on every page, making the most of what would seem to be limited materials.

The melodies are tuneful and easy to sing. The harmonies are simple and transparent. These psalms follow the natural rhythms of the text. It gives these hymns a supple lightness.

Hans-Christoph Rademann’s interpretation is spot-on. The Dresdner Kammerchor sings with unaffected simplicity, letting the inherent beauty of these settings shine through.

These works were never meant to be heard all in one sitting. Rademann wisely varies tempos and instrumental accompaniments to provide contrast. And it works. Most of the time I was quite happy to just hit play and listen through to the end.

Heinrich Schütz: Becker-Spalter, Op. 5
Dresdner Kammerchor; Hans-Christoph Rademann
Schütz Complete Recording, Vol. 15
Carus 83.276

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