Nicolaus Bruhns

De Profundis Clamavi, sacred concerto for voice, 2 violins & continuo

    Description by John Keillor

    This composer was a student of Buxtehude who died young (age 32) and whose surviving catalog of less than 20 pieces is not well known. Those who have an opportunity to hear De profundis clamavi (Out of the Depths) will recognize that his economy of style and implicit elegance makes his legacy worth investigating. The cantata's text is taken directly from Psalm 130, which was not the style at the time -- librettists' adaptations from Biblical sources were preferred in the mid- to late 1600s -- but because the records of this composer's biography are close to non-existent, it can be assumed that he made the decision to use a direct, Biblical text in Latin to suit a specific, unknown occasion. In other ways, there is nothing old fashioned about the cantata, which has also been referred to as a vocal concerto for bass, a few strings, and organ continuo. The three-part structure of the score begins with an introductory sinfonia, which provides the various musical motifs that will shape the impending vocal line. The central section is made up of five alternations of aria and recitative vocal approaches, alternating brisk and slower tempos. The concluding section features a verse and Amen, which feature duple and triple meters. Though the uniform atmosphere is one of aching, unneedful, and poised sacred passion, the variety of the 13-minute score is consistent while remaining cohesive. The cohesion comes with the spare use of material put through continual, easily followed transformations and sung by the bass and then run through evocative imitations by the strings. At all times, the basic music is being reinforced and in the concluding section, the process of imitation is contained and brought to a satisfying closure.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Brilliant Classics 95138BR
    2016 Dacapo 6220634
    2015 Brilliant Classics 95033BR
    2012 Haenssler / Hänssler Classic HAEN 94218
    2010 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Ricercar 291
    2009 Mirare 41
    2006 Ramée 0604
    1997 Sony Music Distribution 68264
    1996 Ricercar 8001/2
    En Ecco 8001