Schutz: Psalms Of David / Rademann, Dresden Chamber Choir

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SCHÜTZ Psalmen Davids , op. 2 Hans-Christoph Rademann, cond; Dresden C Ch; Dresden Baroque O CARUS 83.255 (2 SACDs: 141:23 Text and Translation)

Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672) published his first book of sacred music in 1619, highly influenced by his studies with Giovanni Gabrieli in Venice and not yet restrained by the rigors of the Thirty Years’ War. These psalms are superb examples of the polychoral style. The Psalms of David are very popular on records in collections of his music, but this is just the fourth complete set. Hanns-Martin Schneidt used a large choir of men and boys long ago (CD in Fanfare 22:4), unlike any of the following versions. Frieder Bernius used a sizable chamber choir with women on the top line only (17:1). Konrad Junghänel used only nine voices (22:3). One might count another set on Eterna LP and Berlin CD, but the two conductors (Mauersberger and Flämig) and their different choirs are not similar in style, the psalms were issued on records in at least four groups, and they were never issued together as a set.

Now the fourth set displays its own approach. The distribution of semichoir, full choir, and double choir matches Bernius with half as many singers as he used. Rademann’s timing equals Junghänel’s, with Schneidt 10 minutes faster and Bernius another ten minutes faster. Hence the two smallest ensembles have the broadest timings. Interesting with the two smaller ensembles is the order that Junghänel sets out, mixing up the published order in favor of contrast, while Rademann, as in the two earlier sets, follows the published order. (Notice the opposite on another set in the previous issue, 37:3.) The big difference that makes Rademann so successful is the surround sound, which confers great power on these spectacular works.

If one is looking for an evaluation of the singing and playing, nothing more needs to be said than this—all three of the more recent sets display singing and playing of totally professional quality, stylistically right, without the slightest fault. On the other hand if someone wants to take exception to Schneidt’s boys, so be it, but the three newer sets give no cause for complaint. Yet, when the room is filled with the sound that Carus conjures up, there is nothing left to say. Buy this and revel in Schütz’s op. 2, the gorgeous sound of a German Venice.

FANFARE: J. F. Weber

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: CV83255

  • UPC: 4009350832558

  • Label: Carus

  • Composer: Heinrich Schütz

  • Conductor: Hans-Christoph Rademann

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Dresden Baroque Orchestra, Dresden Chamber Choir

  • Performer: David Erler, Dorothee Mields, Felix Schwandtke, Georg Poplutz, Marie Luise Werneburg, Stefan Kunath, Stephan MacLeod, Tobias Mäthger