Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)

In the 1630's Schütz' ambitions as a composer were thwarted by the decimation of all courtly activity by the Thirty-Years War. Very few musicians were actually left to perform chapel duties.  In 1619, Schütz had published large scale collections for performances of up to forty players in singers.  In both books of the Kleine Geistliche Konzerte, virtually his only published works from the 1630's, the most performers called for in any of the pieces are eight.  These are however greatly serious masterpieces, and like any great artist Schütz made a virtue out of necessity.  The last two settings of the second book of the Kleine Geistliche Konzerte are ambitious long anti-war pieces. St. Augustine's meditation on Psalm 42 becomes an impassioned argument for peace. The five voices and continuo weave a web of great complexity and transcendental beauty.   

©Craig Smith

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