32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Schutz: Musikalische Exequien (Motetten Und Konzerte/Motets & Concertos) (Audio CD)
Doesn't look promising, does it? Early German Baroque, a meditation on death, mostly a capella, some continuo. Pretty austere. But this is some of the most passionate religious music ever composed, prompted by some of the most richly consoling texts-- In his German Requiem, 200 years later, Brahms paid tribute to Schütz's work in setting "Selig sind die Toten (Blessed are the dead")
Schütz never lets limited resources limit his invention or blunt his emotion-- this is a perfect coexistence of restrained dignity and an almost ecstatic spirituality. His magic includes divided choirs crying "Erbarm' dich!" --have mercy-- back and forth, unexpected hemiola dance rhythms (in a Requiem!) and a Monteverdian drama blended into a wholly a capella, polyphonic texure, with the two "angels" and the "blessed Soul" contrasting with the choir in the "Canticum Simeonis."
Gardiner and company are the perfect agents of Schütz's grace-- Gardiner is probably the greatest exponent of the "Get out of the way of the music" school of HIP, and that just happens to be the one I favor. Clarity is what the music needs, and what it gets. Gardiner also has never found a Baroque piece out of which he couldn't ferret the dance rhythms. His singers are clear-voiced, articulation is clean, tuning and balance flawless, tempi strict, rhythms meticulous-- and the result is not at all cold, but full of light and warmth. The emotions rise out of the music and overtake you.