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Schütz: St. Matthew Passion / Paul Hillier

Album Summary

>Schütz, Heinrich : St. Matthew Passion for 2 sopranos, alto, 3 tenors, 2 basses & chorus, SWV 479
Conductor Ensemble
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Notes & Reviews:

Ars Nova Copenhagen and Paul Hillier present the fourth recording in a series devoted to the narrative works (Historia) of Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672). The Danish vocal ensemble thus celebrates Denmark's proud connection with this German master who was appointed Kapellmeister to King Christian IV and worked at the Danish court for two periods over the course of eleven years. The cover illustrations of this series show reliefs of the four Evangelists by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, a member of Die Brücke group founded in 1905 in Dresden - a city with which Schütz himself was closely associated. "I have come away from each of these CD projects with renewed admiration for [Schütz's] music, especially the pseudo-chant style he created for the Passion settings. It seems easy, but it most certainly is not. All composers should follow his example... " - Paul Hillier ARS NOVA Copenhagen is widely recognized as one of the finest vocal groups in Europe. Founded in 1979, the ensemble today is busier than ever. In addition to its annual season of concerts in Copenhagen and throughout Denmark, the ensemble regularly appears across Europe, in North and South America, and Asia. Ars Nova is also building collaborations with creative artists in different fields such as drama, film and ballet, as well as cultivating new modes of concert performance and innovative repertoire. Paul Hillier is from Dorset in England and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. His career has embraced singing, conducting, and writing about music. Earlier in his career he was founding director of the Hilliard Ensemble, and subsequently founded Theatre of Voices. He has taught in the USA at the University of California campuses at Santa Cruz and Davis, and from 1996-2003 was Director of the Early Music Institute at Indiana University. He was Principal Conductor of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (2001-2007) and has been Chief Conductor of Ars Nova Copenhagen since 2003. His recordings, over a hundred CDs including seven solo recitals, have earned worldwide acclaim and won numerous prizes. His books about Arvo Pärt and Steve Reich, together with numerous anthologies of choral music, are published by Oxford University Press. In 2006 he was awarded an OBE for services to choral music. In 2007 he received the Order of the White Star of Estonia, and was awarded a Grammy for Best Choral Recording. In 2008 he took up the position of Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the National Chamber Choir of Ireland, and in 2009 was invited to form the new Coro Casa da Musica in Porto, Portugal. In 2010 he won a second Grammy (this time in the small ensemble category), for Theatre of Voices' recording of David Lang's 'The Little Match Girl Passion' (which also won a Pulitzer Prize), together with a selection of choral works by Lang, sung by Ars Nova Copenhagen.

American Record Guide
It is quite a remarkable experience... And how much more satisfying as a result are the choral passages that begin, intercede, and especially close the drama. It is an exhilarating performance, to say the least. Texts and notes are in English.

Finally, we now have a new St. Matthew Passion, the most expansive (because the Gospel text is so long), the most harmonically advanced, and the finest of all these works. While the Easter history was an early work (1623) and Die sieben Worte dated from 1645, the other four were all written around his 80th year, and this was probably the climactic achievement. Hillier did well to save it for last. Anyone who knows Hillier's extensive discography will appreciate his remark that he chose to record these six works because he is "interested in singing stories."

MusicWeb International
The recording is almost superb - the nowadays ubiquitous rumble of road traffic only occasionally and very faintly intrudes upon the beautiful voices of Ars Nova Copenhagen floating in the lovely acoustic of the Garnison Church.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Garnisonskirken, Copenhagen, Denmark (04/05/2010-04/08/2010).


Hillier Conducts Schutz
Thus concludes Dacapoís important four disc survey of the late narrative masterworks of Heinrich Schutz as directed by eminent Baroque scholar, Paul Hillier with Ars Nova Copenhagen. Schutzís a cappella setting of the St. Matthew Passion (Matthaus-Passion) is fervent and dramatic albeit somewhat austere due to the predominance of recitative. Nonetheless, the subsequent rewards more than compensate for the prolonged concentration required for adequate comprehension of Schutzís formidable design. The two essays included with the text are de rigueur reading for anyone seriously interested in this seminal repertoire. Julian Podger as the Evangelist , Jacob Bloch Jesperen as Christ as well as the voices of Ars Nova are captured with a sonic precision that vividly clarifies the complex polyphonic effects employed by the composer. Technically, the performance is beyond reproach as is the elegant, reverential packaging. Recommended.
Submitted on 04/25/11 by Allen Cohen 
a Passion for Schutz
The Passions of Heinrich Schutz fall midway between the early chant renderings by a single voice or a trio of soloists and the elaborate compositions by Bach and his followers. Forbidden the use of instruments during Holy Week, Schutz crafted his settings for voices alone: an Evangelist and Christ are the main singers, and the chorus represents the various groups in the Gospel story, as well as supplying small roles. This is the last of a fine series of discs by Hillier and his Copenhagen forces collecting all of Schutzís sacred narratives. Itís interesting how the same singer (Jacob Bloch Jespersen) has been Jesus in all the Passions, while each Evangelist has been different (here tenor Julian Podger); on the other hand, I donít think a female alto works well as Judas. Recorded appropriately in a church, the performance is austere, but not dry--those involved definitely act their parts. Complete text in German and English, and detailed notes.
Submitted on 07/17/11 by Jim D. 
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Works Details

>Heinrich Schütz (Composer) (1585 - 1672) : St. Matthew Passion for 2 sopranos, alto, 3 tenors, 2 basses & chorus, SWV 479
  • Conductor: Paul Hillier
  • Notes: Garnisonskirken, Copenhagen, Denmark (04/05/2010-04/08/2010)
  • Running Time: 1 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Written: 1666