If the thought of a complete CD of obscure German Baroque lieder sung by a countertenor brings you out in a cold sweat, help is at hand. While the composers represented are hardly household names, the quality of the music here makes one wonder why Schütz isn’t described in the history books as a cousin and teacher of Heinrich Albert, or Caccini as an Italian precursor of Nauwach. Andreas Scholl’s selection presents an overview of the 17th-century lied, together with instrumental music of the period, all showing the plurality of German Baroque music, with its intermittent echoes of, among others, Monteverdi and Lully. The enterprising programme includes some hauntingly poignant music like JP Krieger’s ‘An die Einsamkeit’ and JCF Fischer’s instrumental Chaconne, both based on the descending four-note ground that was an international expression of lament.
Cheek by jowl with these are pieces to set your foot tapping: Adam Krieger’s ‘Der reinsche Wein’, and Andreas Hammerschmidt’s lesson on the art of kissing, ‘Kunst des Küssens’. Scholl’s innate musicality and vocal control are impressive, but what remains in the memory is the sheer beauty and pellucid quality of his voice.