SAMUEL SCHEIDT: Sacræ Cantiones – Vox Luminis/ Lionel Meunier, conductor – Ricercar

by | Aug 21, 2010 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

SAMUEL SCHEIDT: Sacræ Cantiones – Vox Luminis/ Lionel Meunier, conductor – Ricercar 301, 61:11 [Distr. by Allegro] ****:

Scheidt (1587-1654) was a Lutheran composer whose only real jaunt outside of his native town (Halle) was to Amsterdam. The rest of his time was spent right at home, though he had considerable contact with two masters of the period, Heinrich Schutz and Michael Praetorius, and was able to study with Sweelinck while in Holland. Scheidt was a man whose work embodies the discoveries and summations of the late Renaissance, absorbing not only the provincial styles of his country, but also the trickling bits of Italian idiosyncrasies that came filtering though his friends who had close contact with people like Gabrieli, especially Schutz.

He made his living as an organist though little of those compositions have come down to us. His choral works here in this concert, taken from the first book of his Sacræ Cantiones in eight parts and published in Hamburg in 1620 make use of double choir techniques (though not in everything) that make the music sound as if its origins were in both madrigal and contrapuntal efforts. Each motet here is carefully wedded to the text and continues to tease the listener as to whether one foot is in the Renaissance and the other in the Baroque. Each is beautifully crafted and displays a sense of real liturgical adventure while being cognizant of its link to tradition. The melodies are gratifying and substantial while the choral harmonies, well supported by discreet continuo, display a distinct ability to project not only emotion and meaning, but superbly carved-out sonorities as well.

Vox Luminis is an ensemble that consists of 10 singers, organ, basse de viole, and bassoon, and each is a master at his or her idiom, projecting a unified concept and consistently pleasing timbre. Those wanting to broaden their knowledge of this time period will rejoice; all others at the very least have a nice discovery awaiting them. Thank you Ricercar for the texts and translations (omitted from many recent releases on other labels).    


1. Surrexit Christus hodie
2. Richte mich Gott
3. Sende dein Licht und dein
4. Ist nicht Ephraim mein te
5. Lobet im Himmel den Herrn
6. Vater unser im Himmelreic
7. Jauchzet Gott, alle Land
8. Puer natus in Bethlehem
9. Das alte Jahr vergangen ist

— Steven Ritter

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