SCHÜTZ Symphonie Sacrae I
It’s only a year or so since I welcomed Schütz’s third volume of Symphoniae sacrae from these artists alongside a recording of the first volume from Weser-Renaissance Bremen under Manfred Cordes (Carus, CPO, 2/16). Here Hans-Christoph Rademann tackles that first volume himself, with very satisfying results. While the vocal requirements of the collection align it with the Kleine geistliche Konzerte of the following decade, the variety of instruments stipulated is far richer: plainly the absence of choral or polychoral pieces was a matter of choice rather than necessity (the depredations of the Thirty Years War are often cited as the reason behind the focus on smaller forces deployed in the Kleine geistliche Konzerte).
Be that as it may, since none of these pieces calls for more than three voices at once, Rademann dispenses with a choir altogether (one recalls that both Weser-Renaissance and Cantus Cölln favour single voices whatever the scoring), so that the principal difference in approach between Rademann and his current ‘competitors’ in the Schütz discography is virtually eradicated here (the only perceptible difference being the use of a male alto, which Manfred Cordes avoids). That said, Rademann’s soloists are perhaps more engaging vocally than Cordes’s, and more inclined to inflect lines in service of the meaning of the words (particularly, I suggest, the tenors: try the suggestion of percussion to illustrate ‘in tympano’ in Jubilate Deo, SWV276, which, while not over-egged, has more emphasis).
The sound image is also brighter and more detailed, so that the ear is more consistently tickled. The solo soprano selections in Cordes’s set are worth hearing, and as my earlier review indicated, his is a fine account overall; but just as clearly I’m inclined to give Rademann the edge here.