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Motet Notes

Heinrich Schütz: "Ach Herr, straf mich nicht," SWV 24 - Psalmen Davids


Schütz’ setting of Psalm 6 in his “Psalmen Davids 1619” is one of the most extraordinary of all the settings from that collection.  Although the style of these works is clearly modeled on his teacher Gabrieli’s polychoral style, the young composer has already found a specificity of language and harmony unknown in his Italian master.  This very grim and harrowing Psalm brings out a detail of  declamation and of harmonic color unknown in German music up until this time. It is interesting that Schütz seldom returned to the polychoral style after the publication of this gigantic collection. It is as if he had said in these great works the last word on the subject.

©Craig Smith