Schütz: Vespers

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Schutz
LABELS: MDG Gold
WORKS: Vespers
PERFORMER: Nele Gramss (soprano), Andreas Post, Markus Brutscher, Gerd Türk (tenor), Wolf Matthias Friedrich (bass); Cologne Chamber Choir, Collegium Cartusianum/Peter Neumann
CATALOGUE NO: 332 1170-2

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This disc recreates the music that might have been sung during a Vespers service at the Dresden Court when Heinrich Schütz was director of the chapel there in the early 17th century. The influence of Monteverdi and the Venetian polychoral tradition is everywhere apparent in these splendid works, drawn from Schütz’s most popular collections – the Psalms of David and the Symphoniae sacrae – as well as less frequently performed settings from the Kleine geistliche Konzerte, the Becker Psalter and other publications. The Cologne Chamber Choir and the players of Collegium Cartusianum sound very much at ease with this repertoire, giving aptly dramatic, passionate performances, while the fine team of soloists includes the strikingly androgynous sounding soprano Nele Gramss. Director Peter Neumann never loses sight of the music’s liturgical function, imbuing these accounts with fitting gravitas and austerity. The recording also exploits the thrilling contrasts and echo effects of spatially separated groups of singers and players, cleverly captured by MDG and would warrant a surround-sound mix to recapture the full, three-dimensional effect. But even in stereo, there is an ethereal splendour to these performances that is most powerful. Kate Bolton