Heinrich Schütz: Weihnachtshistorie; Auerstehungshistorie
01 February 2010
BBC Music Magazine
Schütz's ‘Resurrection Story' (Auferstehungshistorie) introduced the Dresden court to the highly charged dramatic style of Italian opera and oratorio, which he had learnt during his apprenticeship in Venice. It's a deeply moving account, narrated by tenor Evangelist in chant-like recitative supported by viol consort playing (and improvising imaginatively) over a simple but haunting harmonic framework. Individuals - Mary Magdalene, the risen Jesus - are represented by pairs of voices in imitative lines. Paul Hillier paces the drama effectively - the wonderment of Mary at seeing Jesus at the tomb, the excited exclamations of the 11 disciples.
The Christmas Story of almost 40 years later is in the fully flowing style of Italian operatic recitative which, in Schütz's own words, had ‘never before been printed in Germany'. The pictorial ‘Intermedii' interspersed with the narrative are charming - the Angel over rocking strings, shepherds running to the stable with lightly tripping recorders, high priests with pompous trombones.
The performance is first-rate throughout. Natural, tractable voices create characterful images – in
the Christmas Story, Else Torp an ethereal angel, Jakob Bloch Jespersen a sneering Herod. The major roles of Evangelist are well narrated, in both Historien, with a natural speech rhythm paced to match the changing moods. A disc to cherish!