Deutsche Lieder der Reformationszeit
Christophorus CHR 77410
Music by Hassler, Lassus, Lechner, Luther, Neusiedler, Schein, Senfl & anon
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his CD of songs from the German Reformation, timed to come out on its 500th anniversary, is a four-part programme charting the early development of Protestant music in Germany. It begins with some disarmingly direct accounts of two songs by Martin Luther himself, followed by music by his contemporary Ludwig Senfl. Here and elsewhere the mezzo-soprano and bass voices are accompanied gamba/lirone, Renaissance violin and lute to produce a wonderfully simple and stable account of this rather plain music. Protestant song acquires a new degree of inventiveness and flair when it passes into the hands of Lassus, while further complexity is introduced by Hans Leo Hassler and Leonhard Lechner. Finally, with Johann Hermann Schein, we have complete confidence with larger textures and, at the same time, the introduction of charmingly folksy elements, preparing the ground perfectly for Michael Praetorius and even Heinrich Schütz. These fresh performances are beautifully blended and balanced, with unobtrusive ornamentation and superlative musicianship, and the chronological approach provides an informative tour this rich period of German musical history, while the alternation and combination of voices and instruments provide delightful variety and illustrates the versatility of approach which would have characterized the original performances.
D. James Ross