Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Matthias Weckmann, Franz Tunder, Dietrich Buxtehude|
Death & Devotion [Hybrid SACD]
Genres: Pop, Classical
Listen to Samples
Baroque & Beautiful
Lawrence A. Schenbeck | Atlanta, GA USA | 01/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a collection of devotional cantatas, for solo voices and small string ensemble, created by seventeenth-century German composers. It is performed here by members of the Netherlands Bach Society and Cappella Figuralis, an extraordinarily good Dutch early-music group, recorded with warmth and intimacy.
What matters most, though, is the music. The title "Death & Devotion" was chosen as a marketing device (the Cappella's earlier albums included "Saints & Sinners" and "Love & Lament") and does not indicate the expressive or textual breadth of the CD. These are small-scale settings of non-liturgical texts; since they were not designed for principal church services or grand occasions, composers felt freer to indulge their interest in the most erudite and au courant creative practices. For Northern Germany, this would have meant a blend of learned counterpoint, richly dissonant harmonies, and the new Italian concertante techniques.
When applied to texts of lamentation, yearning for heavenly life, or love for the Savior (expressed in metaphors of romantic union), the resulting music can be magical. I especially like Franz Tunder's "Am Wasserfluessen Babylon," in which the solo soprano sings a chorale melody while a five-voice string group weaves gorgeous counterpoint (and later, simpler harmonizations) under her. But I also liked the lively "Wo ist doch mein Freund geblieben?" [Wherefor is my friend departed?], a "dialogue between Christ and a faithful spirit," by Buxtehude. And then there's the plaintive sarabande rhythm of "O Gottes Stadt," in which the poet asks "When shall I behold your face, When shall I kiss your hands, When shall I taste your great goodness? Oh Love, my heart burneth."
In other words, moods and tempi range from contemplative to dance-like. But all these works acknowledge the pain of daily existence, while fervently demonstrating hope in eventual reunion with a compassionate Creator -- all of which is expressed with a security of musical craft that is itself comforting.
This is a rather too roundabout way of saying I really liked this disc. It's just exquisitely performed and recorded. It makes me feel good to hear this music!
Congratulations to everyone, but especially to conductor Jos van Veldhoven for presumably organizing the project and shepherding it along. Bass Peter Harvey does a fine job with his solo work, and in his duets with soprano Johannette Zomer. Occasionally Zomer annoys me -- her tone whitens on top, the vowels can spread, and she may overuse the straight-tone-relaxing-into-vibrato thing. But she has the lion's share of the solos, and she certainly sings with grace and feeling.
I can't believe no one on Amazon has reviewed this yet. It's just a must-have disc for anyone who loves Baroque music."