Schütz Musikalische Exequien
Last year I reviewed this ensemble in Schütz’s Op 1, his only book of madrigals (8/11). My reservations stemmed there from the choice of a choir in what would doubtless have been quintessential solo repertoire. Here are no such qualms, for in his Musicalische Exequien Schütz intended a division between the vocal ensemble and the soloists drawn from it. In fact, this much-recorded work receives as fine an interpretation as I can recall, thanks in no small measure to a cast of distinguished and sympathetic singers. But the continuo section, the recorded ambience and an unhurried sense of pacing also play their part. It’s impossible not to remark on Schütz’s marvellous rhetorical efficiency, his unerring feeling for sonic architecture; but by eschewing drama in favour of interiority, Rademann’s ensemble also achieves something rather special.
Because of their length (around half an hour), the Exequien have usually been coupled with a selection of Schütz’s other occasional funeral works. This one is especially fine: Dorothee Mields turns in an affecting performance of the solo song Grimmige Gruft, while the sacred concerto Ich hab mein Sach Gott heimgestellt prefigures the first part of the Exequien in its text and structure. The choral forces adopted for the chorale-like O meine Seel, warum bist du betrübet seems very apposite, though one can’t help feeling that solo voices would have served better in Schütz’s memorial for his colleague Schein, Das ist je gewisslich wahr. A very fine continuation to an