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SCHUTZ: German Requiem / Seven Last Words of Christ

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Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)
Musicalische Exequien • Die sieben Worte Jesu Christi
Die mit Tranen saen • So fahr ich hin zu Jesu ChristThe leading German composer of the seventeenthcentury, Heinrich Schütz lived through one of the mostdifficult periods in the history of the German lands. Hewas born in Kostritz, near Gera, in 1585, the son of theformer town clerk of Gera, who had taken over therunning of the family inn in Kostritz, and his secondwife, daughter of the burgomaster of Gera. In 1590 hemoved with his family to Weissenfels, where his fatherlater became burgomaster. As a boy Schütz wasrecruited by the Landgrave of Hessen-Kassel as achorister, in spite of some opposition from his parents,and had his academic and musical training at Kassel,before entering the University of Marburg. With theencouragement and support of Landgrave Moritz he wasable to move to Venice to study with Giovanni Gabrieli,then near the end of his life, remaining there into afourth year. On Gabrieli's death in 1612 or in thefollowing year he returned to Germany to join theLandgrave's Hofkapelle, while his family did their bestto dissuade him from a career as a musician. In 1615,during a period of court mourning at Kassel, he wasinvited to spend some time at Dresden in the Hofkapelleof the Elector of Saxony, Johann Georg I, in whoseservice he took on the duties of Kapellmeister, a positionhe occupied formally from 1619, remaining in Dresdenin spite of the repeated attempts of the Landgrave Moritzto persuade the Elector to allow his return to Kassel.During a long career that brought work in othercourt musical establishments, when his patron allowedit, Schütz made frequent attempts to secure hisretirement from the Dresden court. Nevertheless he wascompelled to remain in the service of Johann Georg Iuntil the latter's death in 1657, directing the courtKapelle through periods of extreme privation, as theThirty Years War, in which Saxony was finallyinvolved, took its course. On his accession the newElector, Johann Georg II, gave much responsibility tothe Italian musicians that he had recruited, while Schützretained his title, now as principal Kapellmeister, withoccasional calls on his services. He moved first toWeissenfels and continued to respond to demands on hisabilities from various princely musical establishmentswith which he had had earlier connections. He returnedto Dresden in about 1670 and died there in 1672.Schütz was a composer of the greatest importance,linking the traditions of Gabrieli's Venice with themusic of Protestant Germany. The greater part of hismusic was in sacred choral works. Here, like Bach andHandel a century later, he provided a synthesis ofItalian, Netherlands and German Protestant traditions ina large number of compositions, written during thecourse of an exceptionally long active life.Schütz wrote his Musicalische Exequien for thefuneral in Gera of Prince Heinrich Posthumus of Reuss,the composer's native region, on 4th February 1636. Themusic was seemingly at the request of the Prince, whohad followed custom by arranging his funeralceremonies before his death. The work was published inthe same year, with a tribute, in verse, to the Prince whowas himself a musician of some ability. The first of thethree movements has the title Concert in Form einerteutschen Begrabnis-Missa (Concerto in the form of aGerman Funeral Mass) and is intended for six singers,with organ. These voices can be reinforced by othersingers in the sections marked capella, based largely onchorales, which alternate with those for solo voices. It isfollowed by a motet for eight voices, two choirs, whichmay be performed unaccompanied. Finally there is asetting of the Nunc dimittis in a movement for twochoirs, the second singing the text Selig sind die Toten(Blessed are the dead). Schütz explains in hisintroduction, that the texts that he sets in the openingsection, the first of which correspond to the Kyrie eleison,are those that Prince Heinrich had had inscribed on hissarcophagus. The words of the motet had been chosenby the Prince as a text for his funeral sermon, and thewords of the Nunc dimittis had also been the Prince'schoice.Die sieben Wortte unsers lieben Erlosers undSeeligmachers Jesu Christi so Er am Stamm desHeiligen Creutzes gesprochen (The Seven Words of ourdear Redeemer and Saviour Jesus Christ that He spokeon the Holy Cross) dates from 1645. At the head of thescore are the words:Lebstu der Weltt, so bistu todt,Und kranckst Christum mit schmertzen,Stirbst'aber in seinen Wunden roth,So lebt er in deim Hertzen.If you love the world, then you are dead,And wound Christ with pain,But if you die in his red wounds,Then he lives in your heart.The work, setting the traditional texts drawn fromall four evangelists, starts with the Introitus for fivevoices and continuo, a setting of the first verse of achorale, avoiding the traditional melody. The followingVenetian Symphonia is for five instruments andcontinuo. The Evangelist, an alto, sings the recitativefollowed by the words of Christ, sung by the secondtenor and accompanied by the two upper instrumentsand continuo, a procedure that is followed with the laterwords of Christ. The narrative is continued by the firsttenor and the second with the words of Christ to hismother and to his disciple John. The first tenor isfollowed by the soprano in the continued narrative,leading to the words of the two malefactors, the alto tothe right and the bass to the left. The latter addressesChrist, who promises him heaven. Four voices lead toChrist's cry of ?í?ÑEli, Eli lama asabthani', which istranslated, introduced now by four voices as theEvangelist. The alto provides the narrative link to thewords ?í?ÑI thirst', and the tenor tells of a soldier offeringChrist a sponge filled with vinegar and, by a slip of thecomposer's memory, hyssop, this last the reed of StMark (a sprig of hyssop in St John). After the finalwords of Christ, the four voices end the narrative. ASymphonia follows, leading to the final chorale,accompanied, as throughout, by the organ continuo andending in final contrapuntal writing.The five-voice setting of verses from Psalm XXVI,Die mit Tranen saen (They that sow in tears), is the tenthof the works included in the Musicalia ad ChorumSacrum or Geistliche Chor-Musik published in 1648 asOpus 11. This was dedicated to the city fathers ofLeipzig and intended, in part, as a model of the olderpolyphonic style, in particular for the choir of StThomas in Leipzig and the Thomasschule. The worksincluded seem to reflect a recent controversy, fromwhich Schütz had largely kept away, between PaulSiefert and Marco Scacchi, accused by the former offaulty counterpoint, an alleged Italian failing. Schütz, ofcourse, remembered all too well his rigorous Italiantraining in counterpoint and the modern style withGiovanni Gabrieli. The first twelve motets in thecollection are in five parts, with basso continuo. Theeleventh, So fahr ich hin zu Jesu Christ (So onward I goto Jesus Christ), is a setting of the fifth verse of thefuneral chorale Wenn mein Stundlein vorhanden ist.Keith Anderson
Item number 8555705
Barcode 747313570522
Release date 01/05/2004
Label Naxos Records
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists Beate Röllecke
Bettian Pahn
Henning Kaiser
Henning Voss
Jan Kobow
Ralf Grobe
Ulrich Maier
Veronika Winter
Composers Heinrich Schutz
Conductors Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestras Alsfelder Vocal Ensemble
I Febiarmonici
Producers Andrew Walton
Disc: 1
So fahr ich hin zu Jesu Christ, SWV 379
1 Concert in Form einer teutschen Begrabniss-Missa
2 Concert in Form einer teutschen Begrabniss-Missa
3 Motette: Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe
4 Canticum B. Simeonis: Herr, nun lassest du deinen
5 Introitus: Da Jesus an dem Kreuze stund
6 Symphonia
7 Und es war um die dritte Stunde
8 Symphonia
9 Conclusio
10 Die mit Tranen saen, SWV 378
11 So fahr ich hin zu Jesu Christ, SWV 379
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