This duet of Heinrich Schütz (1585 - 1672) is from the first book of Kleine Geistliche Konzerte, published in 1639, during his scaled-down period of the Thirty Years' War. Schütz's studies in Italy in the seminal early 17th century resulted in his lifetime love of both the massed choral forces of Gabrieli and the passionate solo outpourings of Monteverdi, and in the intimate chamber settings of the KGK he was able to explore this language in a highly personal way. The KGK duets are characterized by strikingly individual themes for each contrasting line of text, with a spontaneity of utterance and fervor of intent that both echo the Italian school and have a uniquely Christian exaltation. No composer from this period matches Schütz in the musical expression of joy: his strettoed crescendos on the Alleluias and final statements of these psalm settings achieve heights of emotion that leave one's heart beating faster. "O lieber Herre Gott," set to a New Testament text, uses its theme of the wise virgins awaiting the Bridegroom to create a sense of nuptial urgency. The impending arrival of the Son is greeted by a gay, triple meter dance. The final phrase combines two different motives in a striking example of emotional as well as musical counterpoint, with the active, angular Amen penetrated by placid, floating statements of the name - Jesum Christum.
© Pamela Dellal