Heinrich Schütz: "O bone, o dulcis,” SWV 53-54 - Cantiones Sacrae
The stunning appearance in 1624 of the Cantiones Sacrae cemented Schütz’
career as the composer who melded the German and Italian traditions. Schütz
had published a massive collection of Psalm settings, written in 1619
in the style of his teacher Giovanni Gabrieli, which showed him to be
the master of the Italian polychoral style. In this new collection, he
adapted the Italian secular madrigal tradition to sacred Latin texts.
The mastery of Italian chromatic harmony is there in these motets, but
also a Germanic structural rigor that is mostly absent in the Italian
models. Our motet, “O bone Jesu” is the first motet in that collection
and a virtual calling card of the new manner of German motet composition.
Later in his career Schütz would retreat from the mannerist language and
extreme emotionalism of this collection, but he never wrote more impressive
and touching motets than these marvelous pieces.