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 Kleine Geistliche Konzerte he was able to explore this language in a highly personal way. These 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.
Today’s duet, Eins bitte ich von Herren, is a setting of Psalm 27, the appointed psalm for the day in the Revised Common Lectionary. The psalmist’s one request, which is actually written in three clauses, is divided likewise musically. Schütz’s subtle text painting, harmonic shadings and near canonic writing for the singers beautifully captures the psalm’s ardor and awe.
© Ryan Turner, with introduction by Pamela Dellal