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Donald Macleod explores the life and music of German early Baroque master Heinrich Schutz. The composer attempts to retire – and eventually bids farewell with his Schwanengesang.

Donald Macleod explores the life and music of German early Baroque master Heinrich Schütz. Today, Schütz attempts to retire – and eventually bids farewell with his Schwanengesang.

Heinrich Schütz lived to be 87 – a pretty creditable age even now, but in the 17th century, extraordinary. As he approached his 60th birthday, his thoughts turned to retirement – and pension arrangements. Unfortunately for Schütz, his then employer, Johann Georg I of Saxony, had different ideas – ideas that involved his celebrated kapellmeister continuing to work in much the same way as before, for an unspecified period of time. In the event, it took a change of leadership to bring about the result Schütz so desired; the old Elector died, and in 1657, with Schütz now a grand old 72, the new Elector, Johann Georg II, assented to new arrangements, involving a pension, permission to leave Dresden, and lighter duties. Schütz, though, didn’t rest on his laurels, and some of his greatest music dates from his last years – including his sparse and powerful setting of the Matthew Passion, and his musical last will and testament, a collection of works he himself titled ‘Swansong’.

Auf dem Gebirge, SWV 396 (Geistliche Chormusik)
David Erler, Alexander Schneider, countertenor
Cappella Sagitariana
Hans-Christoph Rademann, conductor

Feget den alten Sauerteig aus, SWV 404; Saul, Saul, was verfolgst du mich?, SWV 415; Komm, heiliger Geist, SWV 417 (Symphoniae Sacrae III)
Dresdner Barockorchester
Hans-Christoph Rademann, director

Ich danke dem Herrn von ganzem Herzen, SWV 424 (12 Geistliche Gesange, Op 13)
Dresden Chamber Choir
Hans-Christoph Rademann, conductor

Jauchzet dem Herren, alle Welt (Psalm 100), SWV 493
Collegium Vocale Gent
Concerto Palatino
Philippe Herreweghe, conductor

St Matthew Passion, SWV 479 (Und Siehe Da, Der Vorhang Im Tempel Zerreib In Zwei Stück)
Paul Elliott, tenor (Evangelist)
Rogers Covey-Crump, tenor (Pilate)
The Hilliard Ensemble

Mein Seele erhebt den Herren, SWV 494 (‘German Magnificat’)
Collegium Vocale Gent
Concerto Palatino
Philippe Herreweghe, conductor

Produced by Chris Barstow for BBC Wales

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Heinrich Schütz

    Auf dem Gebirge, SWV 396

    Singer: David Erler. Singer: Alexander Schneider. Ensemble: Cappella Sagittariana. Director: Hans-Christoph Rademann.
    • CARUS 83.232.
    • CARUS.
    • 10.
  • Heinrich Schütz

    Feget den alten Sauerteig aus, SWV 404

    Orchestra: Dresdner Barockorchester. Conductor: Hans-Christoph Rademann.
    • CARUS 83.258.
    • CARUS.
    • 8.
  • Heinrich Schütz

    Saul, Saul, was verfolgst du mich?, SWV 415

    Ensemble: Dresden Baroque Soloists. Director: Hans-Christoph Rademann.
    • CARUS 83.258.
    • CARUS.
    • 7.
  • Heinrich Schütz

    Komm, heiliger Geist, SWV 417

    Ensemble: Dresden Baroque Soloists. Director: Hans-Christoph Rademann.
    • CARUS 83.258.
    • CARUS.
    • 10.
  • Heinrich Schütz

    Ich danke dem Herrn, SWV 424

    Choir: Dresden Chamber Choir. Conductor: Hans-Christoph Rademann.
    • CARUS 83.239.
    • CARUS.
    • 5.
  • Heinrich Schütz

    Jauchzet dem Herren, alle Welt (Psalm 100), SWV 493

    Choir: Collegium Vocale Gent. Ensemble: Concerto Palatino. Conductor: Philippe Herreweghe.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI : HMC-901895.96.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI.
    • 5.
  • Heinrich Schütz

    Und Siehe Da, Der Vorhang Im Tempel Zerreib In Zwei Stück, SWV 479

    Ensemble: The Hilliard Ensemble. Singer: Paul Elliott. Singer: Rogers Covey‐Crump.
    • EMI : CDC 7-49200 2.
    • EMI.
    • 14.
  • Heinrich Schütz

    Mein Seele erhebt den Herren (German Magnificat), SWV 494

    Choir: Collegium Vocale Gent. Ensemble: Concerto Palatino. Conductor: Philippe Herreweghe.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI : HMC-901895.96.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI.
    • 6.

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