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Thursday, May 06, 2004
  Grand Concerto: Saul, was verfolgst du mich
Henrich Schutz (1585-1672)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 4 Tracks 40-41

Paul and Schutz did well enough without the Internet. Mass communication and the up-to-the minute-avant-guard can only be fleeting. These two gained ideas on their travels that they would take with them and, with time, influence the world. Though times have changed, listeners today have no more advantage then the listener's in Henrich's home town. And music, like religion, progresses no faster or better today than it did then.

I imagine the voice that converted Saul was a complex sound. If I am right it would be a low soft voice, a high piercing voice, many voices and only one voice all at once. It would be cacophony and silence. Inspired by the Italians, Schutz did well to recreate such a voice. The brief excerpt we have in this anthology remains as a memorial to Paul's career. It is also a memorial to the success of Schutz in appropriating Italian advancements. Furthermore, the lesson of both Paul's and Henrich's histories is that beliefs grow from belief.

What I like about this rowdy chorus work is the single voice that becomes fixated on Saul's name. This happens toward the conclusion of the excerpt. As the rest of the ensemble becomes more preoccupied with making noise, the persistence of this voice keeps the work focused on the personal message that is directed to Saul. It also provides the listener's ears a vantage point from which to comprehend the splendor of the whole.

Read also Kyle Gann's argument that reports of our speed are greatly overestimated

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In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

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