Contrary to Gramophone, Concerte aren't disappointing!
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The excerpt from the Gramophone review reprinted by Amazon, curiously, omitted the middle portion of the text, making the whole message unintelligible. What Gramophone was saying is this: the qualities exhibited by Collegium Vocale in their singing of Chormusik, such as their perfect choral blend and the quickness of response to the difficult tempo changes, were so spectacular, that the impact of the more intimate Geistliche Concerte (for solo voices) was less by comparison. Gramophone also seemed to imply that Chormusik was perhaps more advanced stylistically, while Concerte fell squarely within the Monteverdian 17th-century baroque tradition. Such comparisons may be highly misleading, especially when taken out of context. The less knowledgeable public may only see the word "disappointing" (which referred to the relative value of the compositions) and not see the words "superbly sung," and thus conclude that the solo performances were somehow inadequate. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both, the chorus and the soloists, perform at their highest level, making the most out of the musical material in front of them. The only sensible conclusion from the above-mentioned Gramophone review is that, if the disparate emotional impact of Chormusik versus Geistliche Concerte is truly felt, Herreweghe may have made a mistake putting them indiscriminately on one CD instead of issuing two separate discs. I don't see why that is such a big deal. This is one of the best recordings of Schutz I have ever heard. "O susser, o freundlicher," in particular, is spell-binding."
Good exposition of period practices
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoy this recording very much as a second perspective on Heinrich Schütz. It is well done, expressive, and it captures the essence of the style period quite well. the best example is the chorus "Die mit Tränen". For me it boils down to what you want when listening to Schütz. If you want a good exposition of the style period, you would be hard pressed to do better. If you prefer something that is performed as an act of worship in a German speaking Lutheran church (as I usually do), you might be happier with Mauersberger and the Dresden Kreuzchor. This is why I consider it a good second perspective without taking anything away from the Kreuzchor."
If It's a Glorious Concert You Want...
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 08/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...this is the best you will ever hear of the "Spiritual Choir-Music of Heinrich Schuetz (1585-1672). If you are looking for a nostalgic recrudescence of old-time church choir singing, as one previous reviewer was, look elsewhere. This one-disk performance is a selection of ten of the 49 motets in Schuetz's 1648 opus, interspersed with six quite distinct selections from the Kleine Geistliche Konzerte of 1636. The two sources are radically different; the earlier works are in the operatic 'secunda prattica' style of Monteverdi, sung by soloists over decorated basso continuo; the later works are superbly old-fashioned choral polyphony of the 'prima prattica' of composers dead before Schuetz was born. As a concert listening experience, the combination is highly effective, offering a variety and sprightliness that a through-reading of the complete Geistliche Chormusic can't provide.
Having a little extra time, I've just listened comparatively to the three worthy performances of the Geistliche Chormusik in my collection:
Herreweghe's; Bach Collegium Japan under Masaki Suzuki; and Weser-Renaissance Bremen under Manfred Cordes. Both of the others are complete recordings on two CDs, and both are well done. The Herreweghe is so superior in musical quality, however, that I weep and gnash my teeth at the absence of a complete set from his ensemble, the Collegium Vocale. For one thing, Herreweghe is considerably bolder in phrasing and in shifts of tempo. I've performed Schuetz often enough myself to be absolutely convinced that judicious freedom of tempo is the essential spice. For another thing, Herreweghe's choir sounds least like a big chorus of voices none of which are of solo quality. In short, the choir voices are beautifully individualized, sounding almost as 'human' as if they were sung one-on-a-part. Herreweghe is also more adventuresome in dynamic contrasts.
If you love the music of Heinrich Schuetz as much as I do, you'll surely want this performance as well as one of the complete sets, of which I slightly prefer the Suzuki."