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GRAMOPHONE (11/1998)
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Harmonia Gold

Code-barres / Barcode: 3149020165218



Reviewer: Fabrice Fitch

Here is something to get excited about. Nearly 30 years have passed since the only complete recording, under Hanns-Martin Schneidt, of this, Schutz's first monumental publication of sacred music (DG, 10/72 - nla). Whether anything can be worth waiting for that long is a moot point, but Cantus Cöln and Concerto Palatino give us an interpretation that is unlikely to be surpassed. Readers will recall their revelatory reading of Johann Rosenmüller's Vespers (Harmonia Mundi, 2/97), a strong contender in the 1997 Gramophone Awards. Schütz may be far better known than Rosenmüller, and the grand poly-choral manner surely requires no introduction; yet that adjective 'revelatory' applies to these performances as well. With eight singers and no fewer than two dozen instrumentalists, the scale is little short of symphonic. For sheer splendour, who can top Danket dem Herren (SWV45) or the next piece in the collection, Zion spricht? It is easy enough to single out the most opulent pieces, but as Peter Wollny remarks in his admirable booklet-notes, the whole point of the Psalmen Davids is its variety in the treatment of a medium whose potential for cliché is, after all , very great. The musicians respond to Schütz's demands with verve and perception and , as in their Rosenmüller recording, the sort of confidence that would, one suspects, carry any music aloft in triumph. The sound-recording does them full justice, and in the grandest pieces (sorry to harp on about these) is an acoustic experience all on its own. In the event, I listened, enthralled, to the entire collection - nearly two-and-a-half hours - in one sitting, and stayed up way past my bedtime. Can a reviewer make a more revealing admission?


I should also single out the packaging of this set for its elegance and style. And what a relief it is to find a sensible alternative to standard CD-cases: let's hope this s tarts a trend. Aside from a slip or two in proof-reading (in a few of the settings I hear recorders, of which no mention is made in the credits), the notes and texts are instructive and well presented. Congratulations to all concerned.


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