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<<  -- 2 --  Robert Anderson    VITAL INSPIRATION


A second visit to Venice took place in the midst of the Thirty Years' War, when travel was slow and hazardous. The journey from Dresden took him ten weeks 'on account of the closed passes, partly in Germany and partly at the Venetian borders'. The main musical luminary in Venice was now Monteverdi, whose experiments not only in opera but with multiple choirs and novel instrumental combinations were a source of fascination to Schütz. He later described the musical result: 'I must tell you how in the year 1629, when I had arrived in Italy for the second time, I composed in a short period, in the prevailing musical manner, a little Latin work of one, two, or three vocal parts.' The prevailing manner is nowhere more joyously and brilliantly accommodated than in No 19, 'Buccinate in neomenia tuba' (Blow up the trumpet in the new moon) [listen -- track 1, 0:01-0:59].

Yet in the dedication of the Sinfoniae sacrae Op 6 Schütz was again mindful of the man he acknowledged as his only teacher: 'I spent the first years of instruction in my art under the great Gabrieli. Yes, Gabrieli -- ! What a man he was! Had the ancients, rich in words, known him, they would have preferred him to Amphion.' If he felt there was more expressive power in Monteverdi than in Gabrieli, Schütz wonderfully mastered it in David's agonised lament for Absolom, No 13 of the set. Here the mourning king is represented by a lone bass voice, while the sombre accompaniment is for four trombones and continuo [listen -- track 8, 1:12-2:27].

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Copyright © 7 April 2004 Robert Anderson, London UK


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