Peter Kopp / Körnerscher Sing-Verein Dresden

Johann Gottlieb Naumann: Psalms 96 & 103

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The great Catholic court at Dresden was of critical importance to the musical life of Germany in the early 18th century and even left its mark on the career of the utterly Protestant Bach. Dresden was damaged during the Seven Years' War but remained musically and culturally significant, becoming the seat of the Kingdom of Saxony before German unification. Its later musical life has been little known, and it's interesting to see musicians from the city's flourishing conservatories turn to buried works on home ground. Johann Gottlieb Naumann, though Protestant himself, was the city's kapellmeister for the last third of the century; he composed mostly operas and Catholic liturgical music, almost all of which awaits exploration. The German-language pieces on this album received their recorded premieres with the disc's original release on the CPO label in 1999. They were written in the mid-1780s for the court of Mecklenburg-Schwerin at Ludwigslust Castle, where the local potentate admired Naumann. The two large psalms on the album are sunny yet hefty pieces that remained popular into the 19th century. They alternate substantial choruses with arias and ensembles in the manner of Mozart's masses, and even if Naumann was not that kind of a melodist the counterpoint in the choruses is skillful, and the impression of splendor conveyed by the whole seems to carry a consciousness of northern Germany's past glories. Also included is an opera overture that could stand with the orchestral music of Joseph Martin Kraus or the other occasionally played composers of the region, and a short cantata, Kommt herzu, written for a Protestant religious colony, the Herrnhut Brethren, in the Sudetenland region. This simple work is especially impressive and may put the listener in mind of Mozart's Masonic pieces. The performances by the Körnerscher Sing-Verein Dresden and Dresdner Instrumental-Concert, using original instruments, are smooth and imposing, with a quartet of first-rate vocal soloists. Recommended for those with an interest in the still largely un-illuminated field of Classical-period choral music.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Gustaf Wasa
1 4:58
Der 96. Psalm
2 3:12
3 7:20
4 2:48
5 4:09
6 4:34
Der 103. Psalm
7 4:09
8 2:43
9 3:53
10 1:22
11 1:46
12 2:53
13 2:06
14 2:14
15 5:10
blue highlight denotes track pick