Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
Martin Luther, the great German Reformer, has had not only a lasting theological effect; he also had a great influence on the musical development of his time and beyond. He demanded the use of the German language for hymns sung at church services and thereby created the basis for the early German Lied and thus shaped the development of western music. It is not overstating the case to argue that without Luther and his co-reformers there would have been no Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, indeed any of the great Germanic composers. On this listenable collection Sabine Lutzenberger, an early music expert, and her Per-Sonat ensemble present a broad overview of sacred and secular songs from this era. The featured composers are a mix of the famous and obscure being, in order of appearance, Martin Luther (1483-1546), Ludwig Senfl (c 1490-1543), Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594), Hans Neusiedler (c 1508-1563), Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612), Leonhard Lechner (c 1553-1606), Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630), and - of course - our dear friend Anonymous. Fair to say that if you do not recognise any of these names this recording is going to be too obscure for you but if you enjoy early music and want to find out what happened after Hildegard von Bingen you are in good hands with Sabine Lutzenberger (mezzo-soprano) and her small ensemble of Joel Frederiksen (bass) plus three period instrumentalists. The musicianship and audio quality are both first-rate, the music is tuneful but is, of course, sung in German and while the texts are provided in the CD booklet there is no translation. With a German ensemble singing German music on a German record label perhaps I should not complain about having to look for translations elsewhere but it did detract slightly from my enjoyment.
The opinions expressed in this article are
not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed
views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may
not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a
Interested in reviewing music? Find out