GOTTFRIED AUGUST HOMILIUS: Habe deine Lust an dem Herrn (Motets II) – Sirventes Berlin/ Stefan Schuck – Carus

GOTTFRIED AUGUST HOMILIUS: Habe deine Lust an dem Herrn (Motets II) – Sirventes Berlin/ Stefan Schuck – Carus 83.266, 54:06 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

Homilius (1714-85) was born in Porschendorf, a village southeast of Dresden. He came to Leipzig after his father, a Lutheran pastor, died, and was able to secure the instruction of Bach. He took a position at the Frauenkirche in Dresden (as organist), and in 1755 was made the music master for the city’s three main churches. He was never to leave that position, and established quite a reputation, which makes it hard to understand his comparative neglect today. He composed over 180 sacred cantatas and 60 motets, a Christmas oratorio, and passions, oratorios, and pieces for organ. Carus is busy publishing his complete works, and is dedicating no little effort to recording him as well.

As a product of the late Baroque, and of studies with Bach too, one can expect a certain stylistic conformity to the achievements of that era. Yet, Bach seems curiously absent from his proclivities, even though one will certainly find fugues, canons, etc. in his music. But it is mostly the impending classical era that seems to capture his imagination, not that he abandons the Baroque ethos, but concentrated instead on the melodic element in this music undergirded by homophonic choral accompaniment. Of course this is a gross simplification, and Homilius is much more than song melodies to a simple guitar strumming underneath. But he does take this as a basis in many of these motets, and elaborates them in a way that is both refreshing and invigorating. Though there are melodies aplenty that tug at the heartstrings, there is choral virtuosity as well, and lots of barn-burning flowing and flowering lines that get the pulse racing. What comes across most of all is that this is a composer of quite exceptional chops with a tremendous mastery of technique and a fiery temperament for pleasing Protestant passion. One wonders what Luther would have thought of it all; no matter. What you will think after hearing these works is why in the world you haven’t been able to hear them before.

Maestro Schuck and forces give their all in this music with a fierce dedication to the composer, and Carus sets them down brilliantly in digital splendor. Give it a try.

Tracklist:

Habe deine Lust an dem Herrn; Kommt her und sehet an die Wunder Gottes; Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot; Die Elenden sollen essen; Domine ad adiuvandum me; Magnificat in C; Deo dicamus gratias; Ich will den Herrn loben allezeit; Mir hast du Arbeit gemacht; Dennoch bleib ich stets an dir; Die richtig für sich gewandelt haben; Lasset euch begnügen; Wo ist ein solcher Gott; Der Herr ist meine Stärke; Siehe, des Herrn Auge

—Steven Ritter

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