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This is the first of three boxed sets of the complete works of Heinrich Schutz performed by Hans-Christoph Rademann and his Dresdner Kammerchor. The second set became available in September 2017 and I'm hoping it won't be too long before the final one is released (Update June 2018 - Carus tell me it's due in late Autumn 2019).
I've been collecting works by Schutz since about 1984 but am in no way an expert in his music. To my ears, he is second only to J S Bach (and it's a pretty close second).
Comparing performances by different ensembles is a very subjective occupation, but as far as I'm concerned, what I've listened to in this set so far is at least as good as any other recordings I own.
With Schutz, most people start with the Exequien of 1635 (the most recorded 17th century German piece of music I believe) and the version here is at a medium pace and compares very well with any others I've heard. I'm sorry I can't be more technical about this, but I'm a plumber, not a musician!
For 11 CDs by a top quality ensemble, this set is very reasonably priced in my opinion and it has the bonus of a one hour DVD about Schutz' life. Called "Der Vater der Deutschen Musik ['The Father of German Music']. A film by Jörg Kobel", I found this fascinating, and although it's in German, it has English subtitles.
One revelation to me was that the coffin of Heinrich Posthumus Reuss, who commissioned the Exequien and from which the inscriptions provided some of Schutz' texts, still exists and is shown here. How on earth that survived the Second World War is astonishing. Sadly, no further details are given about it.
If you're still not sure and want a piece from this recording to try before you place your order, Amazon give you the chance to listen to bits of it first. I'd suggest you look for 'Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr, SWV 387' which is from the second CD. The words were written in 1569 (before Schutz was born) by the protestant reformer Martin Schalling. Add Schutz' music, and you have a sound almost beyond what we on earth deserve.
There is also a very comprehensive booklet about the music and the performers (again, in German and English) and another of the libretto, although sadly the latter is only in German.
Overall, if you like Schutz, or even just early music, this is a wonderful collection and I'm sure if you buy it, you'll be back promptly for the second box and like me, eagerly awaiting the third one (which, as of October 2019, has just been listed for release on the Carus website in November - I can hardly wait!)
Edit 25th November 2019. The third and final box is now available (and has been for a few weeks) from Carus in Germany (carus-verlag.com). Amazon have it listed for release in January 2020, but I have my copy sitting by me here in the UK as I write, so I think they're mistaken.
Anscheinend gibt es zwei Versionen von dieser Box: eine mit DVD und andere ohne DVD. Ich hatte diese Box I - Ausgabe für 49 € bestellt in Annahme, dass auch DVD mitgeliefert wird. Jedoch erhielt ich die Ausgabe ohne DVD. Danach stellte ich fest, dass diese Box bei Amazon mit zwei verschidenen Rückseiten angezeigt wird (mit und ohne DVD), was sehr verwirrend ist, weil beim Amazon-Titel (11 CD+DVD) steht. Musik von Heinrich Schütz ist über alles erhaben, auch klanglich sind diese 11 CDs sehr gut.