Heinrich Schütz Symphoniae Sacrae II Beautifully Performed

This release features the second of three volumes of Schütz’s Symphoniae Sacrae. Schütz published his first volume in Venice in 1629. Volume II was completed 18 years later in Dresden, where Schütz was a major musical figure.

Like the first volume, these works show some influence of Monteverdi and Gabrieli. But that influence seems much less than it did in the previous volume. At this point in his career, Schütz had completely integrated the polyphony he so admired in Italy with the need for simplicity and directness in Protestant Northern Germany.

The majority of the texts are from Psalms, although other Old and New Testament passages are used. Theologians such as Martin Luther (Verleih uns Frieden) and Johann Walter (Gib unsern Fürsten) are also present.

As with the first volume, there’s plenty of variety in these sacred symphonies. Schütz is a master of word-painting as well as counterpoint. The text flow in an almost conversational manner, the rise and fall of the melodies mimicking natural speech patterns.

Hans-Christoph Rademann varies the forces from track to track, maintaining listener interest throughout the program. The small cadre of singers blends well in all their configurations, performing with clarity and warmth.

The makeup of the instrumental ensemble also varies from work to work. And there are a few surprises. For example, Lobet den Herrn in seinem Heiligtum SWV 350 says “praise Hime with the timbrel and dance.” And by golly, we hear a drum playing a dance rhythm in the background. Surprising, but entirely appropriate.

Another fine addition to Carus’ on-going series.

Heinrich Schütz: Symphoniae Sacrae II
Complete Recordings, Vol. 18
Dorothee Mields; Isabel Jantschek; David Erler Georg Poplutzl; Tobias Mäthger; Felix Schwandtke
Hans-Christoph Rademann, director
Carus 83.274

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