Philippe Herreweghe / Collegium Vocale / Concerto Palatino

Heinrich Schütz: Opus ultimum (Schwanengesang)

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Philippe Herreweghe and his Collegium Vocale Gent have already made a couple of other great Schütz recordings. There's the heartrending Musikalische Exequien from 1987 and the awe-inspiring Geistliche Chormusik from 1994. But good as those recordings were, they aren't in the same league as this 2005 recording of Schütz's opus ultimum, his Schwanengesang, his final musical meditation on life, death, and life after death. As before but far more so, Herreweghe and the Collegium Vocale find the balance between austerity and expressivity -- making every line, every phrase, every note count but making it count no more and no less than it needs to make its point. And yet, for all the severity and spirituality that pervades this music, Herreweghe and the Collegium Vocale bring out the deep beauty of its melodies and the sensuous colors of its harmonies. Capped with a stirring performance of Schütz's sublime Deutsches Magnificat, this warmly recorded and lovingly packaged Harmonia Mundi two-disc set should be heard by everyone who's interested in the music of the German High Baroque in general and in the music of Schütz, its greatest composer, in particular.

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