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Samuel Scheidt: Cantiones Sacrae [CD]

Lionel Meunier Audio CD

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1. Jauchzet Gott, Alle Land
2. Richte Mich Gott
3. Sende Dein Licht
4. Das Alte Jahr Vergangen Ist
5. Lobet Im Himmel Den Herrn
6. Vater Unser Im Himmelreich
7. Ist Nicht Ephraim Mein Teurer Sohn
8. Puer Natus
9. Surrexit Christus Hodie

Product Description

Samuel Scheidt was one of the most interesting Lutheran composers of the early 17th-century. Like his famous contemporary Heinrich Schütz, he combined the polyphonic tradition with the new styles from Italy. His Cantiones Sacrae for 8 voices mark the summit of Renaissance musical style; even though Protestant chorales are integrated into the work, Scheidt does not hesitate to use expressive effects that originated in the Italian madrigal style.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lutheran "Comfort" Music 23 Nov 2011
By Giordano Bruno - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The "Sacrae Cantiones" of Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654) are not as often performed today as the "Symphoniae Sacrae" of his contemporary Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) or the "Musae Sioniae " of Michael Praetorius (1571-1621), but it's not because Scheidt's vocal/instrumental work is uninteresting or inferior. This electrifying performance of nine of Scheidt's grandest polychoral settings of German hymns proves his stature, if not quite as sublime as Schütz at least as accomplished as Praetorius. Musicologists and musicians have paid far more attention to Scheidt's seminal role as the first internationally significant German composer for the organ than to his vocal works, and most of "us" today would first have encountered Scheidt in the popular transcriptions of his organ music for modern brass ensemble. If you're a brass player or fan, it may come as a surprise to discover how magnificent a composer of vocal/instrumental music Scheidt was.

Along with Schütz and Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630) -- the Three SCHs! -- Scheidt is widely credited with introducing Italian musical styles into North Europe. Frankly, that's an unfair slight to the developed musical world of Germany before 1600. Many of the most skilled instrumentalists in Italy before 1600, especially wind players, were in fact Germans, and though their names are mostly forgotten, those instrumentalists had already transmitted the influence of Italy to the lands that are now Germany and Poland. Hence the very characteristic use of obbligato instruments in the large-scale sacred works of Praetorius and Scheidt, in which "recitativo with basso continuo", the fundamental Italian style, is rare. Scheidt's Cantiones Sacrae sound as German as Hasenpfeffer or Stollen ...

... and speaking of Christmas (Stollen is the quintessential German Christmas bread), this music will surely evoke "Christmas" for many listeners, even for non-Lutherans, though in fact only three of the nine chorales is specifically concerned with the Nativity. The longest composition -- 'Vater Unser', in nine verses for double choir -- is Scheidt's setting of The Lord's Prayer. 'Das alte Jahr' is a New Year's hymn, and 'Surrexit Christus' is specific to the Resurrection, but these days both are sung willy-nilly as Christmas carols. "Musical Christmas" must seem like a German invention to most of the world. Historically, in the 17th Century, Protestant and Catholic music did move in opposite directions, with the Lutherans concentrating their musical energies on the celebration of Christmas while the Counter-Reformation Catholics devoted their musical genius most affectively to Holy Week and Easter. Hey, my fellow lapsed Lutherans! How often do you remember going out to sing Easter Carols?

And that's a sales pitch for Sammy Scheidt! This is music which will put you in the blissful spirit of Christmas nostalgia. If you want some holiday music -- something less overworked than the Messiah and less sappy than another recording of a boys' chorus -- you can't do better than Scheidt! His vision of the Sacred is Exultant! Exhilarating! Exuberant! It's expressive of a glorious religious confidence, which is all the more astounding since most of it was composed during the Thirty Years War, when Christians slaughtered Christians over bits of dogma.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a voice teacher and early music fan 4 Jun 2012
By George Peabody - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase

The emergence of German music in its own right may conveniently be pinpointed by three events, each a century apart - the births of Martin Luther (1483), Heinrich Schutz (1585) and J.S. Bach (1685). Luther's writings show that he had a great love for music and an understanding of its value in worship, and the growing treasury of chorale hymns and tunes inspired by Luther and his followers formed a basis for composition in every art form except that of opera, from organ chorale preludes and variations to works such as Bach's St.Matthew Passion.

To the second event, the birth of Schutz, the so-called 'father of German music', must be linked the births of his contemporaries, Johann H.Schein(1586) and SAMUEL SCHEIDT (1587), with each of whom he had a personal friendship. THE WORKS OF THESE THREE EXHIBIT THE MAINSTREAM TRANSMIGRATION OF MODERN ITALIAN (CHIEFLY VENETIAN) IDEAS TO GERMANY, this stream merging with FLEMISH, ENGLISH, AND FRENCH INFLUENCES (though to a lesser extent), until all were absorbed and adapted into GERMAN MUSIC.

Samuel Scheidt(1587-1654) was a Lutheran composer whose only real jaunt outside of Halle(his native town) was to Amsterdam where he studied organ with Sweelinck. Scheidt's work embodies the discoveries and summations of the late Renaissance, absorbing not only the provincial style of his country, but also the sifting bits of Italian idiosyncrasies.

The Choral works of this disc, taken from Scheidt's 'Sacrae Cantione' in eight parts and published in Hamburg in 1620, make use of double choir technique in some of the selections. This makes the music sound as if its origins were in both madrigals and contrupuntal effects, which tends to cause the listener to feel that Scheidt has one foot in the Renaissance and the other in the Baroque! However, be that as it may, each selection is beautifully crafted and displays a sense of real liturgical adventure while being aware of the link to tradition. The melodies are delightful and substantial while the choral harmonies, supported by unobtrusive continuo, show a definite ability to project not only emotion and meaning, but superbly sculptured sonorities as well.

An attractive variety of techniques are represented in these works, from the eloquent 'Alleluia' refrain of the short opener 'Surrexit Christus Hodie', to the monumental beauty of the 20 minute versified elaboration of the Lord's Prayer 'Vater unser im Himmelreich' during which Scheidt creatively spreads the cantus firmus around varied prsentations of the double choir. The 'Jauchzet Gott, alle Land' and the brief Christmas carol 'Puer Natus in Bethlehem' both illustrate a flexible splendor.

The ensemble VOX LUMINIS is made up of ten singers (SS Mezzo CTCT TTT BB), organ, basse de viole and bassoon. Each is a master in his or her idiom, projecting a unified concept and a consistently pleasing timbre. The voices are resonant with refined tone qualities and precise diction. They are expressive and indeed outstanding in solo passages while maintaining an excellent sense of ensemble throughout.

GRAMOPHONE MAGAZINE - January, 2011 : "'Vox Luminis' is already an ensemble of the finest calibre; their intonation, tuning and declamatory sensitivity for words are deeply impressive, and the consort singing always shows a keen affinity for emotive harmonic twists."
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm so glad that somewhere out there are musicians who see the ... 12 July 2014
By Karl - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I'm so glad that somewhere out there are musicians who see the beauty and the value of saving and sharing with the rest of us this glorious music.
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