WORKS: Lobet den Herrn in seinem Heiligtum; Christ lag in Todesbanden; Gott sei uns gnädig; Magnificat anima mea; Der Herr ist König und herrlich geschmückt; Suite for solo theorbo
PERFORMER: Johann Rosenmüller Ensemble/Arno Paduch
CATALOGUE NO: CHR 77257
Pachelbel is grossly misrepresented on disc, nearly 100 offerings of that ubiquitous ‘Canon’ swamping a mere half-dozen of his splendidly colourful sacred pieces. Here are five more, not previously recorded, mostly for five voices with a kaleidoscope of instruments: Psalm 150 demands strings, oboes, bassoon, recorders, harp, five trumpets and ‘high cymbals’ – (Paduch uses a tiny tinkling instrument, a charming surprise, though pitched, disconcertingly, exactly a fourth above the key note). But this wasn’t enough for Pachelbel who changed the text to justify adding trombone and timpani. The Magnificat, too, is brilliantly coloured, each successive verse employing a different instrumental sound.
Delightful effects include a distant soprano echo in Der Herr ist König, though the music itself has a limited harmonic vocabulary and simple syllabic word-setting. Solo voices are very polished, though I’d willingly trade a blemish or two for more unbridled enthusiasm, particularly from the bass.
The setting of seven verses of Christ lag… has uncanny similarities to Bach’s early cantata, BWV 4 – Pachelbel taught Bach’s elder brother Johann Christoph who, in turn, brought up and taught Johann Sebastian after their parents’ death. This welcome new repertoire serves as a striking reminder of where JS Bach came from – and how far he went. George Pratt