Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)

The duets of Heinrich Schütz are from the first and second book of Kleine Geistliche Konzerte, published in 1639, during his scaled-down period of the Thirty Years' War.  Schütz's studies in Italy in the seminal early 17th century resulted in his lifetime love of both the massed choral forces of Gabrieli and the passionate solo outpourings of Monteverdi, and in the intimate chamber settings of the KGK he was able to explore this language in a highly personal way.  The KGK duets are characterized by strikingly individual themes for each contrasting line of text, with a spontaneity of utterance and fervor of intent that both echo the Italian school and have a uniquely Christian exaltation.  No composer from this period matches Schtz in the musical expression of joy:  his strettoed crescendos on the Alleluias and final statements of these psalm settings achieve heights of emotion that leave one's heart beating faster. Der Herr is Groß is a wonderfully noble expression of God's greatness.  The gleaming melismas that open the work are followed by expansive whole notes proclaiming his might, which are subtly contradicted by an undertone whispering "ist unaussprechlich [it is inexpressible]."  

©Pamela Dellal

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