David Pohle forges a near-direct link between the influence of Heinrich Schütz and the generation of Bach and Telemann. One of Schütz's last students, Pohle had composed at least one complete cantata cycle for the Lutheran church year by 1665. However, Pohle never published any of his works and the cantata cycle, along with most of the other music he composed, has disappeared. Carus-Verlag's David Pohle: Wie der Hirsh schreyet collects some of the little bit of sacred choral music from Pohle's pen that has survived, along with five of his instrumental sonatas, which exist in nearly equal number to his sacred vocal works; about 30 of them are extant. All but one of the sonatas has been recorded before, but the six sacred vocal works featured here are new to recordings.
The sonatas are completely delightful, consisting of very short movements that tend to highlight abrupt contrasts when they change, some languid and expressive, others fleet and sinewy. Harmonically they are steeped in a style that sounds weirdly arcane, much as the little bit of surviving chamber music by Johann Sebastian Bach's granduncle Heinrich Bach sounds, with its fondness for late-Renaissance era "false relations." This makes sense; Heinrich Bach was an older contemporary to Pohle. Pohle's sacred vocal works, however, are more of a mixed bag, and while they are good, they seem rather stylistically primitive in comparison to the sacred concertos of Franz Tunder and one wonders why he set so many Latin, rather than German, sacred texts. There are highlights: In te Domine speravi contains some particularly fine moments, with its rapid patterns of sixteenth notes, subtle interruptions of the meter, and occasionally odd harmonic shifts in keeping with the style of the sonatas. The other works do tend to grow on the listener and L'Arpa Festante under Rien Voskuilen and the vocal soloists do a very fine job here. Although there are no hidden masterworks to be found on Carus-Verlag's David Pohle: Wie der Hirsh schreyet, it's a good listen and will please those who have a solid interest in the early German Baroque.