Thursday, May 28, 2015
Heinrich Schütz St. Matthews Passion
This volume presents Schütz's 1666 setting of the St. Matthew Passion. Schütz was eighty years old, but like Monteverdi, his late works are some of his most forward-looking.
At the time, instruments were banned from liturgical use during Lent, so Schütz's setting is for a cappella choir. The bulk of the work is exposition provided by the Evangelist (sung by Goerg Poplutz), but this is no dry, dull recitative. Schütz sets his text to sinuous melodic lines that recall Gregorian chant, both emphasizing the sacred nature of the text and embedding it with emotion.
The choral sections are exquisite, with simple full-bodied harmonies. This 51-minute work seems simultaneously suspended in time and moving inexorably towards the tragic events of the Passion. Schütz effectively uses his spare forces, giving his characters -- the Evangelist, Pilate, Jesus, and others music that fills out their characters and reinforces the intent of their words.
The release also features three shorter sacred works by Schütz, all beautifully sung by the Dresdner Kammerchor. This is a welcome addition to a series that was long overdue (in my opinion). I look forward to the next installment.
Heinrich Schütz: Complete Recording, Vol. 11
Matthäuspassion, SWV 479; Litania, SWV 458; O du allersüssester und lieberster Herr Jesus, SWV 340; In dich hab ich gehoffet, Herr SWV 446
Dresdner Kammerchor; Hans-Christoph Rademann, director