Scheidt: Cantiones Sacrae

Athesinus Consort Berlin, Klaus-Martin Bresgott
74:24
Carus 83.488
[+Schwemmer]

There are eleven fabulous two-choir motets by Scheidt on this CD, which were published in 1620; seven are scored for equal SATB groupings, the remainder in what I think of as the Venetian standard, SSAT in one choir and ATBB in the other (the seventh voice in C4 clef but lower than the other two tenors). What I must confess to not expecting was the extraordinary quality of Scheidt’s music – if I’m honest, he’s always been overshadowed by Schütz (as I suspect he has for many people), and while I’m beating myself up in public, I have to admit to not being a great fan of his either… The handling of the four voices of each grouping, and the juxtaposition or combination of both is expertly done, with echoes and building dynamics (by stacking up the number of voices, not marking the pages with a pencil!) In this respect, too, the Athensius Consort Berlin is exemplary – no nonsense, just honest, clean singing, serving the music not making it fit anyone’s vision for it. If the composer’s own choirs were anything like as disciplined (and full of such easily balanced voices!), his sumptuous music must have resounded around the chapel in Halle. These are all premiere recordings, and there are another 15 such works in German and 12 in latin still to come. The music is also available from Carus Verlag in typically beautiful and practical editions. The other music on the CD (specially composed for the choir by Berlin composer, Frank Schwemmer) is beyond the scope of my review. Let’s just say that – although I didn’t dislike it to the extent of being forced to reach for the remote control – the following Scheidt came as a balm to my soul.

Brian Clark

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  • Performance
  • Recorded sound
  • Booklet notes
  • Overall presentation
5