Outstanding musical performance of the kulmbach vocal ensemble tonart

The tonart ensemble performed a unique work on good friday evening in the petrikirche in kulmbach: heinrich schutz (1585-1672) composed the "musikalische exequien" for the funeral of his sovereign heinrich posthumus reub on 14. February 1636 in gera. During his lifetime, the prince had compiled a collection of biblical passages and hymn verses that schutz was to set to music for the funeral. His sarcophagus was also to be inscribed with a part of the texts. The "musikalische exequien", a work for 6, 8 or more voices and basso continuo, is considered one of the composer’s most profound creations.

The preserved coffin and the "musical exequia are impressive testimonies of reformatory piety from the time of the thirty years’ war. The prince laid down every detail of his funeral. The bible verses, which were a comfort to him in life and in death, should also uplift the bereaved. That is why they are the text basis of the funeral music.

Even the day of the burial in the tomb had been carefully chosen by the prince: the memorial day of the new testament prophet simeon. The words of which are recorded in the gospel of luke: "lord, now you let your servant go in peace" will be played at the end of the funeral music.

The audience in st. Peter’s church is gripped by the performance of the tonart ensemble: A profound reminder pervades the church, a drama about dying and transience, but also the radiant certainty of eternal life with god.

The ensemble trusts in the interpretation of the words as conceived by schutz. Nothing seems oppressive or larmoyant in this pure style, the music exudes deep comfort. The close word-sound relationship, which is characteristic for heinrich schutz, is worked out precisely and with verve by conductor and organist ingo hahn. Text comprehensibility and intonation of the singers are brilliant. The excellent double bass player joachim ("akki") schulz from halle succeeds in merging with the ensemble.

The jubilant brightness of the tenor

The first part of the exequien is a rapid succession of six-part choral movements of the "capella" and differently cast solos, accompanied by the basso continuo. Here the biblical texts and song stanzas of the sargin scripture are set to music. Almost all the singers appear as soloists in alternating combinations, so that the different colors of the voices produce kaleidoscopically ever new sound pictures. Outstanding is the tenor of karin reinhold, which is even in depths temperamentally gripping, warm and soft. In the final part her tenor rises to jubilant brightness.

Venetian polychoralism, as heinrich schutz became acquainted with it at the main church of san marco, characterizes the other parts of the work. The second is a motet for two choirs of four voices each on the funeral sermon text.

In the third part, the vocalists once again reassemble themselves into two choirs, the composition of which has symbolic meaning. The lower, five-part choir quotes the praise of the aged simeon and stands for the transient world, the three higher voices symbolize with the beatitude of the dead the imperishable life with god.

The two works at the beginning of the concert put the audience in a wonderful mood for the sepulchral peace of holy saturday. Musically, they can be considered as examples of the compositional development in the early baroque from polyphony to the basso continuo. First the motet for five voices on luther’s text "verleih uns frieden gnadiglich"; it was schutz’ contribution to the peace celebration in 1648 at the end of the thirty years’ war.

Then the little concerto "O sweeter, o kinder". The soprano elke hohn performs it ravishingly, accompanied by the basso continuo, she sings freely and sensitively: a song of mystical devotion of the soul to the redeemer, which rises to a leaping anticipation of the encounter with him in his end-time glory. With the monody taken from italy, schutz prepares the way for a johann sebastian bach and his contemporaries.

After a minute of silence the audience thanks with long lasting applause for the outstanding performance of the ensemble with its outgoing founder and director.