A Choral Conductor's Analysis and Performance Practice Recommendations for Selected Psalm Settings by German Baroque Composers
Rolf, Kathryn Anita
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A Choral Conductor's Analysis and Performance Practice Recommendations for Selected Psalm Settings by German Baroque Composers (13.19Mb)
Psalm settings by German Baroque composers are comprised of meaningful texts illuminated by expressive music and have much to offer today’s choir. The composers of these settings were inspired by the Old Testament psalm texts and wrote choral works that incorporated both historical techniques adapted from types of psalmody and the expressive techniques of their day. Despite the significance of psalm settings, no detailed study exists on this music as a body of work. Additionally, Baroque music provides challenges to the conductor regarding performance practice choices. Both of these problems are addressed in this study. First, I establish a lineage of compositional development from Medieval chanted psalms to Baroque psalm settings and analyze the techniques composers used to express the text in specific examples. Then, I use the insights gleaned to make performance practice recommendations for each piece. By drawing on primary sources by Michael Praetorius (ca. 1571-1621) and Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) and secondary sources by contemporary scholars Dennis Schrock, Helmuth Rilling, and Robert Donington, I provide an overview of German Baroque performance practices that includes instrumentation, tempo, dynamics, articulation, and ornamentation. Special emphasis is given to performance principles that are applicable to the psalm settings explored in subsequent chapters. I also draw on dissertations, books, and articles by Baroque scholars to provide highlights of the composers’ careers and details about the pieces studied. The six pieces included in this disquisition are “Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen,” SWV 29 from Psalmen Davids (1619) by Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672), Alleluja! Lobet den Herrn in seinem Heiligtum (1620) by Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630), “Schaffe in mir Gott ein reines Herz” from Fest- und Zeit-Andachten (1671) by Andreas Hammerschmidt (1611-1675), Der Herr ist mit mir, BuxWV 15 (ca. 1687) by Dieterich Buxtehude (ca. 1637-1707), Gott, sei mir gnädig (1705) by Johann Kuhnau (1660-1722), and Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden (n.d.), BWV 230 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).