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GRAMOPHONE (01/2000)
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Harmonia Mundi

HMG 501686

Code-barres / Barcode: 0794881985227

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Reviewer:  Fabrice Fitch


The 26-year-old Schütz had his Op. 1 published in Venice in 1611. It was intended as his 'journeyman's work', the conclusion of two years' study with Giovanni Gabrieli . Rather like Frescobaldi's only book of madrigals (itself his Op. I), Schütz's single effort in the genre has tended to be overlooked in favour of his later surviving output. Yet the link is surely his sensitivity to the text, which is as evident in this collection as it was to prove in his later music. Equally evident and impressive is Schütz's easy familiarity with the madrigal repertoire: one can hear different influences at work here, from the classical to the mannerist. The impression is one of unobtrusive virtuosity, never indulged in for its own sake. A previous recording from The Consort of Musicke some years ago (EMI Reflexe, 3/87 - nla) conveyed the same sense of confident competence; even finer still is the performance from Rene Jacobs's Concerto Vocale, the quality of the sound recording being the only notable difference in relation to the new arrival. But Cantus Cölln brings something more, an occasionally truculent sensibility that makes it easier to engage with the music as more than a serious young composer's calling-card (try the battle-cries that open Feritevi, fetite). The group succeeds particularly well where bitter sentiments force harsh dissonances (as from 1'05" of the same madrigal, even though the slower tempo there seems a touch over-egged; or, perhaps better, at 0'25" of Quella dama son io), and it manages Schüz's sharply defined closing gestures very persuasively (once again, Feritevi, ferite illustrates this well).


I have listened to this recording a number of times, with increasing involvement. Cantus Cölln has done Schüz proud yet again: let us hope that more will follow.

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