- Musikalische Exequien (Funeral Music), for double chorus & continuo, SWV 279-281 (Op. 7)
- Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin
- Wir glauben all an einen Gott
- Das ist je gewißlich wahr, for 2 sopranos, alto, 2 tenors, bass & continuo, SWV 277
- Ich bin die Auferstehung und das Leben, for double chorus, SWV 464
- Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener, for soprano, alto, 2 tenors, bass & continuo ad lib, SWV 432-433
Exequien in German are funeral observances, and Heinrich Schütz's "Musikalische Exequien, SWV 279," were performed in February 1636 for the funeral of Heinrich Posthumus von Reuss, a prince and diplomat who was a personal friend of the composer. Reuss planned his own funeral down to the last detail, commissioning music from Schütz, providing him with German texts roughly analogous to the Latin requiem mass, and designing his own sarcophagus, which is reproduced in full color in the booklet. Prince Heinrich Reuss XIII even gets an album credit for making it available for a photograph. Various good recordings of this work are available, from Philippe Herreweghe (captures the emotional intensity in the periodic harmonic clashes) to John Eliot Gardiner (very Bachian). Forces deployed range from one voice per part (Weser-Renaissance) to medium-sized groups (the Sixteen) to full choirs or children's choirs. This reading by Lionel Meunier and the multinational group Vox Luminis is also well worth considering. You might think of it as the authentic performance among authentic performances. Meunier deploys two voices per part and draws his soloists from this group in the work's shifting antiphonal structures; there is manuscript evidence that this is the ensemble size Schütz had in mind. The continuo is realized by a small organ and a bass viol, solutions apparently suggested by Schütz himself. The "Musikalische Exequien" are introduced by other funeral motets and chorales by Schütz and others, setting the stage for the impact of the funeral rite itself and echoing the order of an actual Lutheran service. And the singers get the quality of memorial warmth in the music, which lives up to the comparison in the booklet notes of the "Musikalische Exequien" with the Brahms "German Requiem, Op. 45." There are versions with more spectacularly sharp singing, but few others that seem to fit together as convincingly as this. The performance is strengthened by the ideal acoustics of a small church in the Loire region. Strongly recommended for any Schütz collection.