Heinrich Schütz: Psalmen

Floral design

Dresdener Kammerchor and Barockorchester, Rademann
Carus 83.016

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his latest volume in the Carus edition of the complete works of Schütz comes to some of the real musical bread and butter of the composer’s output with his settings of the psalms. Generally syllabic and homophonic, or modestly polyphonic, and designed for congregational and domestic performance, this music is at the opposite end of the scale from his epic polychoral compositions. The danger with a complete recording of this material would appear to be boredom in the listener, but the performers cleverly vary the textures from choral performance to soloists with a variety of accompanying instruments. In fact, like all great masters, Schütz manages to inject a high level of inventiveness into even this rather humble genre, and some of the settings for solo voices take on the polyphonic intricacy of solo sections in his more ambitious works. And then even the chordal homophonic settings bear the Schütz stamp of originally, moving idiomatically through unexpected harmonic progressions. By this time very familiar with Schütz’s quirky idiom, the Dresdener choir sing with a smooth authority which it would be hard to match, while the contribution of the fine vocal soloists and instrumentalists provides the perfect foil to the beautiful choral sound.

D. James Ross

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