As I suggested in a previous review, if you're sated with the Three B's, you might want to become familiar with the Three SCH's of 17th Century German music: Heinrich Schütz, Johann Hermann Schein, and Samuel Scheidt. Schütz's reputation is secure and there are numerous superb recordings of his music; nearly his complete oeuvre is available. That's not the case with Schein or Scheidt. A few solid performances of Schein's finest work, "Israelis Brünnlein", have appeared on CDs. Scheidt's most ambitious compositions for voices and instruments are represented by just two worthy CDs, "Concertuum Sacrorum" performed by La Fenice/Ricercar Consort, and this disk, "The Great Sacred Concertos" performed by Musica Fiata/Capella Ducale. The Ricercar performance is easily the more exciting of the two; I've already reviewed it.
Scheidt was the ultimate home-boy in an era of musical cosmopolitanism. Born in the city Halle, near Leipzig, Scheidt spent only two years elsewhere, studying in Amsterdam with Jan Sweelink. His entire career was spent back in Halle in the service of the Margrave. Unfortunately, Halle was a strategic prize in the Thirty Years War, changing occupations several times, and the second half of Scheidt's musical history is a tale of depleted musical resources. The effects can be heard on the two CDs under discussion. Ricercar's selection of Scheidt compositions comes from his publications of 1620/22, while Musica Fiata's are taken from volumes published between 1631 and 1640, consisting mainly of small-scale works for two or three voices with continuo.
What is it that makes this CD less exciting? The same superb soprano, Monika Mauch, sings on both CDs. Roland Wilson is not as brilliant a cornettist as Jean Tubery but his playing on the disk is quite excellent. He is the director of the two ensembles, Musica Fiata and Capella Ducale, and his reconstructions of Scheidt's small-scale sacred concertos are what you hear here. He has chosen to perform Scheidt very conservatively, in the polychoral tradition of Venice and Gabrieli, with little of the 'stile concertato' operatic affect of the Italian Baroque. There's too much simple instrumental doubling of voices for my taste. The result sounds more like Praetorius than like Schütz or Rosenmüller, the great 'progressive' composers of the era. Honestly, Wilson's reconstructions and ensemble decisions may be historically justified, in which case I'd have to agree with the previous reviewer that there's "nothing special" here. But then, that other CD, Tubery's, says otherwise.
This is a more-than-competent performance, nevertheless, and a CD worth hearing many times. As I said, the cornetto playing is first-class, as are all the other instruments except a brief, lamentable flurry of notes from a sopranino recorder on track 6. The vocal ensemble is tightly blended and resonant. The two basses, Harry van der Kamp and Wolf Matthias Friedrich, are eloquent and tuneful, and their timbres blend well with the prominent roles assigned to the trombones. In fact, you'll seldom hear better polychoral ensemble than this, and that's why I've given the CD a full five-star rating, even though the repertoire is less impressive than I might expect from one of the Three SCH's.
- Audio CD (March 27, 2007)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: CPO
- ASIN: B000MRP1PA
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #586,067 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)