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Psalmen David's Import
Psalmen Davids, a collection of German settings of Psalms for use in Lutheran churches, was only Schütz's first publication of sacred music, but it made him famous all over Germany. The influence of the composer's teacher Gabrieli is evident throughout the magnificent, lavishly scored music (double choir with soloists, strings, and brass in various combinations), yet Schütz pays a Monteverdian attention and respect to his texts. That very respect can make some of the simpler Psalm-settings for two SATB choirs tedious for non-German-speakers, but the pieces with substantial parts for soloists and instruments are a joy--as are the performances here. (The one-voice-per-part performance by Cantus Cölln and Concerto Palatino on Harmonia Mundi, while smaller-scale, has subtlety and grace that transcend language barriers.) --Matthew Westphal
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Musica Fiata and Frieder Bernius do a splendid job of bringing these works to life and the power and majesty of this music is evident throughout. The choir is not too big or too small and the instrumental playing is excellent throughout. This recording is vastly preferable to the misguided and strange OVPP Cantus Cölln recording which completely eliminates the vocal 'cappella' choirs and had insufficient voices to cover all the vocal lines - even with soloists! This recording was a major disappointment - 'budget-cut' Schütz in fact!
Buy this recording! This is the only Psalmen Davids on CD that comes even close to ideas Schütz expressed in the introduction to the published score of these works.
A word to Amazon - get some staff reviewers who know what they are talking about and who look at a score occasionally or do some research! You can't learn about music from CD cover notes alone!
As I remember, this performance by Musica Fiata was big and resonant but lacking in declamatory drama, more a choral festival than the acoustics of a CD in your living room can sustain. It's one thing to hear such music in a cathedral, and quite another on your headphones.
The main thing is to hear the music. Hey, friends, I'm the purist's purist, but I love the Cantus Colln results.
There are some older CDs of Psalmen Davids still being sold. Shun them at all costs. Schuetz is extremely performance dependent.
Bernius has done a great job bringing the best out of these works. Praetorius was very pragmatic and always gave the musician some latitude in how to perform his music according to the resources available. In this recording Bernius has chosen to be fairly opulent and has expanded the scope of the music to its grandest options. I find it very satisfying.
I am usually a fan of one-voice-per-part performances, but somehow this repetoire seems to benefit from the use of the capella that Junghanel forsakes in his recording of this music.