Deutsche Romantik Geistlich I - arr. Morten Schuldt-Jensen (SAM a cappella)

This collection brings together five works by German composers covering the full breadth of the Romantic period.
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InstrumentationSAM a cappella
ForlagHal Leonard

The earliest work, Beati mortui, is the first of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s two Geistliche Chöre Op. 115 originally written for four part male voice choir. It was premiered by the Thomanerchor, Leipzig in 1837 but only published posthumously in 1869.

Bruckner’s Locus iste, a longstanding favourite among both amateur and professional church choirs, sets the Gradual from the proper of the Mass for Kirchweih, the anniversary of a church’s dedication in Germany. It was first performed in 1862, a few weeks after the laying of the first stone of the New Cathedral in Linz, the Austrian city where Bruckner was, at the time, organist at the Old Cathedral. Locus iste was first published 24 years later alongside three other Gradual motets: Os justi, Christus factus est and Virga Jesse.

Ach, arme Welt is the second of Drei Motetten Op. 110 (1889), Brahms’s sombre final compositions for mixed choir. Unlike the first and third motets for double chorus which hark back to the antiphony of Gabrieli and Schütz, the second motet has the character of a Bach chorale harmonisation flavoured with a Brahmsian calling card. Arnold Mendelssohn’s Die Beste Zeit im Jahr ist mein, perhaps the least-known of this quintet, dates from 1905 and sets text from Martin Luther’s poem ‘Frau Musica’, which was printed in the foreword to Johann Walter’s Lob und Preis der löblichen Kunst Musica that was published in 1538.

Nachtlied, a sacred motet originally scored for SATBB, takes the text of German Protestant theologian Petrus Herbert. It is one of Reger’s eight motets that make up his Op. 138, Acht geistliche Gesänge, written at the beginning of World War I. The proofs for the eight motets, his final choral opus, were found in his hotel room in Leipzig where he died in May 1916.

Editorial Note: Some pieces in this volume feature brackets that comprise ‘ternary cells’ – cells of three beats – of differing lengths. Before the mid-17th century in the stile antico, it was common for each vocal line to have an independent stress pattern: a sequence of binary or ternary accentuations guided by the declamation of the text in order to give life to each voice. Despite the non-legato of the individual single layer – created by elements including the musical articulation, the (hairpin) phrasing of the ternary cells and a natural text declamation – the constant displacement of stresses between the voices provides an overall feeling of flow right through to the next cadence, at which point the ‘cells’ come together. Certain characteristics of this style, such as hemiolas and cadential conventions, continued in the following centuries and can be found in the music of Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Brahms, and even later composers with an affinity for vocal polyphony. The voices in these SAM arrangements take on more than just their own polyphonic role, occasionally switching between parts to maintain the integrity of the original music. Despite the initial challenges the removal of a part would suggest, choirs will reap the benefits of replicating the contrast and vitality of the original inner textural phrasing, and although the brackets and absence of normal bar lines may seem very different from a conventional edition, we are confident that any initial difficulties should be quickly overcome, and that the resulting quality and transparency of performance will be considerably more satisfying for both singer and listener.

1. Ach, arme Welt [Johannes Brahms]
2. Die beste Zeit im Jahr ist mein [Arnold Mendelssohn]
3. Beati mortui [Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy]
4. Locus iste [Anton Bruckner]
5. Nachtlied [Max Reger]