WORKS: Cantiones sacrae (1625)
CATALOGUE NO: 999 405-2
This recording advocates a one-to-a-voice, madrigalian way of performing Schütz’s great cycle of forty motets. It is a perfectly feasible and historically acceptable way of performing this music. But the singers of Weser-Renaissance – including distinguished names like the countertenor Ralf Popken and the tenors Rogers Covey-Crump and John Potter – are placed in a vastly resonant acoustic (of the Kirche zum Heilsbronnen, Berlin), with the microphones positioned so that the tortuously chromatic, intensely expressive harmonies of the opening ‘O bone Jesu’, for instance, are lost in a swell of confused sound. Things only become clear when the volume is turned up to a reckless level.
Surely if a madrigalian scale and manner of performance is desired, then the ambience should also be madrigalian. The performances, for all their mannerisms, are engaging, poised and expressive, though the English translations of the notes are less than first-rate. Stephen Pettitt