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"Jauchzet dem Herren alle Welt - Schütz and Italy, Schütz and the Italians"

amarcord; Cappella Sagittariana Dresden
Dir: Norbert Schuster

rec: Oct 25 - 28, 2010, Leipzig-Connewitz, Paul-Gerhardt-Kirche
Raumklang - RKap 10110 (© 2011) (67'35")
Liner-notes: E/D/F; lyrics - translations: E/D
Cover & tracklist

Giovanni GABRIELI (1557-1612): Canzon [2]; In ecclesiis a 15 [3]; Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643): Gloria a 7 [6]; Carlo PALLAVICINO (c1630-1688): Confitebor tibi Domine, concerto for 4 voices, instruments and bc; Giuseppe PERANDA (c1625-1675): Fasciculus myrrhae, concerto a 2 cori for 5 voices, instruments and bc; Michael PRAETORIUS (1571-1621): Hallelujah. Christ ist erstanden a 21 [4]; Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585-1672): Es steh Gott auf, concerto for 2 voices, 2 violins and bc (SWV 356) [7]; Ich danke dem Herrn von ganzem Herrn a 8 (SWV 34) [5]; Jauchzet dem Herren, alle Welt a 8 (SWV 493) [8]; Vasto mar, madrigal a 8 (SWV 19) [1]

Sources: [1] Heinrich Schütz, Il primo libro de madrigali, 1611; Giovanni Gabrieli, [2] Canzoni e Sonate per sonar con ogni sorte de istrumenti, 1615; [3] Symphoniae Sacrae, II, 1615; [4] Michael Praetorius, Polyhymnia Caduceatrix & Panegyrica, 1619; [5] Heinrich Schütz, Psalmen Davids, 1619; [6] Claudio Monteverdi, Selva morale e spirituale, 1640/41; Heinrich Schütz, [7] Symphoniae Sacrae, II, 1647; [8] Königs und Propheten Davids hundert und neunzehender Psalm … nebenst dem Anhange des 100. Psalms … und eines deutschen Magnificats, 1671

[amarcord] Wolfram Lattke, Martin Lattke, tenor; Frank Ozimek, baritone; Daniel Knauft, Holger Krause, bass; with: Ina Siedlaczek, Angelika Lenter, soprano; Achim Kleinlein, tenor
[CSD] Friedrike Otto, Dietrich Hakelberg, cornett; Clemens Schlemmer, dulcian; Sebastian Krause, Ercole Nisini, Frank van Nooy, sackbut; Margret Baumgartl, Karina Bellmann, violin; Benjamin Dreßler, Renate Pank, viola da gamba; Ulla Hoffmann, violone; Petra Burmann, theorbo; Lynn Tabbert, organ

The Italian music of the 17th century strongly influenced the development of music in Germany. The long life and career of Heinrich Schütz reflects the various fashions during the century, from the classical polyphony to a style of composing which was increasingly modelled after the opera. Schütz only partially followed the Italian fashion, and at the end of his life he largely returned to where he had started off. This is the subject of this disc by the vocal ensemble amarcord and the Cappella Sagittariana Dresden.

It was Landgrave Moritz of Hessen-Kassel who took Schütz under his wing when he was a boy, because of his singing skills as a treble. He also gave Schütz the opportunity to travel to Venice, where he studied with the great Giovanni Gabrieli. He was one of the last representatives of the long and rich tradition of classical polyphony, enriched by the technique of cori spezzati. His experiences in Venice made a lifelong impression on the young Schütz, and Giovanni Gabrieli remained his role model until the end of his life. The first fruits of his studies with Gabrieli were the 19 madrigals which were printed in 1611. The last madrigal, Vasto mar, on a text by Schütz himself, is a tribute to his patron, who is called "Gran Maurizio". It may surprise that Schütz chose the form of the madrigal to show what he had learnt, and not sacred polyphony or pieces for double choir. But the madrigal was considered the ideal way for a composer to show his skills not only in the composition of polyphony but also in setting a text to music in an expressive way.

It was the second collection of music which was printed in 1619, the Psalmen Davids, which reflected the polychoral style of his teacher. All Psalm settings are for two choirs of four voices each with additional instruments. Schütz stated that these compositions were written in "the Italian way", with a specific reference to Gabrieli. It is likely that Schütz began to compose the Psalms during his stay in Venice. In these settings he transposes the principles of madrigal writing to sacred music. One could almost call them sacred madrigals. In the programme on this disc Ich danke dem Herrn von ganzem Herzen, a setting of Psalm 111, is preceded by one of Giovanni Gabrieli's most famous sacred concertos, In ecclesiis for four choirs, and a Canzon. It wasn't only Heinrich Schütz who was influenced by the polychoral style of Venice, and composers didn't even need to go there to become acquainted with the latest trends. As far as we know Michael Praetorius never went to Italy, but his large oeuvre includes many polychoral pieces, like Hallelujah. Christ ist erstanden, an Easter concerto for five choirs.

It was on his second journey to Italy from 1628 to 1629 that he became acquainted with the stile concitato of which Claudio Monteverdi was the main representative. It is obvious that Schütz was influenced by the Italian master, but at the same time he kept some distance. It is only in the preface of his Symphoniae Sacrae II of 1647 that he explicitly mentioned Monteverdi. It is from this collection that we hear Es steh Gott auf, which is modelled after Monteverdi's madrigal Armato il cor. This piece is preceded by Monteverdi's Gloria a 7, showing how he himself applied the principles of the stile concitato in sacred music.

Among the features of the style of Monteverdi and his contemporaries were the greater vocal virtuosity and the extended role of instruments. These would become even more pronounced in the next decades. These are demonstrated in the music of the Italians who entered the Dresden court. Carlo Pallavicino moved to Dresden in 1666 where he stayed until 1673. It is telling that the largest part of his oeuvre consists of operas. Even during his time in Dresden he continued to compose operas for Italian theatres. His setting of Psalm 111, Confitebor tibi Domine, is a typical example of a sacred concerto which offers the singers the opportunities to show their vocal prowess. When Schütz died in 1672 he was succeeded by another Italian, Marco Gioseppe Peranda. Although he mainly wrote sacred music, there is a strong influence of opera. "The attack on the new theatrical church music in the funeral oration for Schütz by the chief court preacher Geier was mainly directed against Peranda as a papist and as the exponent of a style described as 'broken'", Wolfram Steude writes in the article on Peranda in New Grove. Fasciculus myrrhae may be for double choir, the vocal parts are all written for solo voices.

The difference between the pieces by these two Italian composers and the music Schütz composed at the end of his life are striking. All his life he had embraced the newest trends in Italian music, and successfully tried to adapt them to his own principles in which the text always came first, but here he quit. In his last large-scale work, the so-called Schwanengesang (swan-song), a setting of the complete 119th Psalm, a setting of Psalm 100 - performed here - and a German Magnificat, he returned to his former teacher, Giovanni Gabrieli. It is dominated by counterpoint, which for Schütz remained the foundation of all music. That was something he had already stated in the preface of his Geistliche Chor-Music of 1648 where he urged "Germany's budding composers that, before proceding to the concertante style, they should bite on this hard nut [the motet style] (in which the true heart and foundation of good counterpoint will be found) and pass their first test in this way". With the last work on this disc the circle of Schütz' life and work is closed.

This disc is a kind of musical illustration of an important stage in European music history. Because Heinrich Schütz enjoyed such a long life and career, and was for the most part of the 17th century the leading composer in Germany, his stylistic development eloquently shows how much changed within about half a century. These developments are not only traceable in Germany, but also elsewhere.

The programme has been intelligently put together and is given excellent performances. The accomplishments of all participants deserve much praise. The delivery is immaculate and the singing, both solo and ensemble, is first-class. The players lend much colour to the vocal lines with the help of the then common instruments cornetts, sackbuts, violins and gambas. There is only one point of criticism: the acoustic is a bit too dry. In particular the pieces by Gabrieli and Praetorius could have taken profit from a little more reverberation.

In short, this is a highly recommendable disc which is both historically illuminating and musically captivating.

Johan van Veen (© 2011)

Relevant links:

Cappella Sagittariana Dresden

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