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Recordings

Thomas Stoltzer.  Psalm Motets
09 Oct 2007

Thomas Stoltzer. Psalm Motets.

Thomas Stoltzer represents German composition in the wake of the Reformation yet still immersed in the contrapuntal richness of the Josquin tradition.

Thomas Stoltzer. Psalm Motets

Josquin Capella

MDG 605 1394-2 [CD]

$16.99  Click to buy

Stoltzer’s career as a beneficed cleric in Breslau would have guided him in orthodox paths, though his later move as chapelmaster to the Hungarian court in 1522 found him setting large-scale psalms in Luther’s version. And the fact that his works were published in Wittenberg is also ample evidence of their attractiveness to the Reformed world.

The Josquin Capella’s anthology of motets is attractively varied, including both Latin settings as well as vernacular ones, with the imposing “Erzürne dich nicht,” the giant representative of the latter category. The works also range in scale, including the intimacy of a three-voice “In Domino confido”—it is amazing how rich he can make three voices sound!—and the short Christmas antiphon, “O admirable commercium,” whose brevity was inverse to its wide dissemination and popularity. (It survives in as many as eleven sources.) For good measure, the anthology also adds a Magnificat in alternatim and a Requiem introit.

The Josquin Capella brings to their performances a high sense of style. The opening motet, “Super salutem,” for instance, is exquisitely contoured, with finely sculpted individual notes that yet do not detract from the honeyed fluency of line. The ensemble sound is lean, the bass particularly rich, and the expressive palette given to dynamic nuance. These traits show the traces of careful preparation and leadership, and for that we have the impressive conductor, Meinolf Brüser, to thank. There is an occasional feeling of pitch sag here and there—not in actuality, but in impression--as the darkness of the timbre seems to weigh the pitch down. But the expressive beauty of the singing is the most lingering impression, and for that this recording is unusually fine.

Steven Plank

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