WORKS: Kleine geistliche Konzerte, Vol. 1
PERFORMER: Kleine geistliche Konzerte, Vol. 1New York Baroque/Eric Milnes
CATALOGUE NO: 109
Schütz’s two books of ‘Little Sacred Concertos’, published in 1636 and 1639, were designed for use in musical establishments depleted by the Thirty Years’ War: they contain short cantatas, in German and Latin, for one to five solo voices, accompanied only by continuo. New York Baroque – here a team of seven well-matched singers, with monochrome support from organ and cello – perform a selection from both books (‘Vol. 1’ refers to PGM’s planned series, not Schütz’s publication) cleanly and clearly. But they lack the acute responsiveness to the meaning of the text which is needed to bring the music fully alive.
In contrast, on the Finlandia anthology of choral works, the Finnish youth choir Candomino sounds consistently fresh and fervent, if sometimes vocally unsophisticated. There is some equally ardent solo singing and string playing in the main work, the short Passion oratorio The Seven Words of Jesus Christ on the Cross. The rest of the well chosen programme ranges from two of the Psalms of David of 1619 to the German Magnificat of more than half a century later. Well recorded in a resonant church acoustic, this is a recommendable – though in playing time hardly generous – single-disc survey of a still underestimated master. Anthony Burton