Heinrich Schütz: Weihnachtshistorie; Auferstehungshistorie
29 September 2010
Joanne Sydney Lessner
This is the second in a series of proposed recordings of the narrative works of Heinrich Schütz, comprising his cantatas for Christmas and Easter: Weihnachtshistorie (1660) and Auferstehungshistorie (1623). Paul Hillier, as always, puts cogent storytelling on equal terms with musical values, eliciting dignified, sensitive and celebratory readings from Ars Nova Copenhagen and a cohort of understatedly compelling soloists. With its slightly quaint, village Christmas-y feel, Weihnachtshistorie makes an accessible and worthy alternative to the overdone Messiah.
Adam Riis sings with thoughtful directness and a mellow tenor as the Evangelist, while Jakob Bloch Jesperson's insinuating bass-baritone enlivens the proceedings with his cameo as Herodes. Soprano Else Torp negotiates the Angel's flights of exhortation deftly, and if her attacks are occasionally hootier than need be, she generally settles into sweetness by phrase's end. Auferstehungshistorie is, in keeping with the relative seriousness of the holiday, less overtly jubilant. The Evangelist in this work, also a tenor, is given voice by Johan Linderoth, whose astringent tone adds an appropriately reverent cantorial edge as the work's interlocutor. The soprano trio (Torp, Louise Skovbaech Kosrholm and Hilde Ramnefjell Dolva) sings with clear, pristine tone and attention to suspensions and other compositional detail, as do the ensemble men in their various small combinations.