Pablo Heras-Casado / Balthasar-Neumann-Chor / Balthasar-Neumann-Ensemble

Praetorius

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Only two of the three composers named Praetorius on this Archiv release are related; Jacob was the son of Hieronymus, while Michael, known mostly for his small dances, was from a different family. But all the music was written between the very end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th, and it is more or less consistent in style. The real appeal of the program is its thematic consistency: although there are a couple of large Magnificat settings, most of the rest is devoted to motets on passages from the Song of Songs, the sexy part of the Bible. At least some were written for weddings connected with the composers themselves, and they respond to the texts in personal, warm, and even humorous ways. Put that together with the fact that all this music is virtually unknown, and it's easy to see why conductor Pablo Heras-Casado is one of the hottest new presences on the early music conducting scene. He gets a precise, lively sound from the only moderately prominent Balthasar-Neumann-Chor und Ensemble of Freiburg, and he is backed by excellent studio sound from the revived Archiv label, which is quickly living down its predecessor's reputation for stodginess. A superb early German Baroque recording.

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