Schütz’s massive setting of Psalm 119 (SWV 482-492) was completed a year before his death. Because of that, it’s known as his Schwanengesang, or Swan Song. (There’s some evidence that Schütz himself referred to this work this way).
Schütz set the text for two SATB choirs and organ. It might seem that such constrained resources might not sustain a 65-minute work. But this is Heinrich Schütz.
As always, Schütz follows the lead of the text. The ebb and flow of the words provide plenty of contrast in mood and melodic contour.
Schütz also uses his resources to great effect; both choirs sing in harmony and contrapuntally. Solo voices are also heard, as are smaller groupings of voices.
Schütz left instructions that one might add instrumental doublings as desired. Director Hans-Christoph Rademann did just that, to great effect.
Instruments not only help emphasize particular lines but also help provide contrast from section to section. The end result is a sacred work of exceeding beauty.
Also included are two other late works by Schütz; a setting of Psalm 100 and the German Magnificat.
As always, the Dresdner Kammerchor performs flawlessly. The ensemble blend is seamless.
Heinrich Schütz: Schwanengesang
Dresdner Kammerchor; Hans-Christoph Rademann, director
Schütz Complete Recording, Vol. 16