Schelle: Sacred Concertos & Cantatas

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WORKS: Sacred Concertos & Cantatas
PERFORMER: La Capella Ducale, Musica Fiata/Roland Wilson
CATALOGUE NO: 999 841-2
When Johann Schelle died in 1701, he had been Thomaskantor at Leipzig for 24 years and was to be succeeded in the post first by Kuhnau and then by JS Bach. As a youngster, Schelle had been trained by Schütz, whose influence can be felt in these sacred concertos and cantatas. But more immediate stylistic tangents lie in Schelle’s adherence to and development of ideas that come from his Leipzig predecessor, Sebastian Knüpfer; and above all, perhaps, they can be heard in the elaborate five-part vocal pieces with their characteristically colourful instrumentation. Some of these, like Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren, have Gospel texts but, for the most part the texts are drawn from the Psalms. When I reviewed another Schelle programme last year, performed by The King’s Consort (Hyperion), I remarked on the composer’s effective deployment of brass instruments. That is very much in evidence here, not only in the masterly 25-part psalm-setting Lobe den Herrn – the only piece, incidentally, which the two releases have in common – but also in several other works included in this programme. La Capella Ducale and Musica Fiata, under the experienced direction of Roland Wilson, generally enliven this hitherto somewhat neglected repertoire with stylish playing and sensitive, if not always sufficiently assured or polished vocal responses to Schelle’s imaginative and deeply felt word-painting. Nicholas Anderson