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Celine Scheen (soprano) Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor) / L'arpeggiata, Christina Pluhar (theorbo & direction)

[ Erato Classics / CD ]

Release Date: Friday 5 October 2018

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Himmelsmusik ('heavenly music'), a programme of sacred songs and cantatas by German composers of the 17th century, presents a striking contrast with the previous Erato album from Christina Pluhar and her ensemble L'Arpeggiata: Händel Goes Wild.

Himmelsmusik sees Pluhar taking a more sober and traditionally scholarly approach. She and L'Arpeggiata are joined by star countertenor Philippe Jaroussky and the distinguished Belgian soprano Céline Scheen in a programme that includes the celebrated lamento 'Ach, dass ich Wassers gnug hätte' by Johann Christoph Bach (born over 40 years before his relative Johann Sebastian), Heinrich Schütz's 'Erbarm Dich mein, o Herre Gott' and prompts discovery of works by such lesser-known figures as Johann Theile, Philipp Heinrich Erlebach, Christian Ritter and Franz Tunder. An instrumental piece by the Verona-born Antonio Bertali highlights the influence of Italian music on German composers of the time.

In an interview with the Bremen-based newspaper Weser-Kurier, Christina Pluhar provided some insights into the balance she strikes in her music-making with L'Arpeggiata.

"A way of escaping any categorisation as a specialist in improvisation is to undertake projects in which I play pure Baroque music. I always try to reinvent myself, to create something from my innermost being … I can be quite satisfied with music as it was originally written, and we will play this music without making excursions into other fields … But it is also always exciting to look at this music through the eyes of musicians who come from a different musical genre, since it opens up new perspectives and gives rise to a kind of new music. That can only work when you are well acquainted with the original music and its style, and have great respect for it … There are pieces that lend themselves to being developed into something new, and there are others that must simply be presented in all their purity and beauty - works which must be left as they are. Sensitivity is everything."

Grammy Awards
62nd Awards (2020)
Nominee - Best Classical Solo Vocal Album

"[Jaroussky and Scheen] are well-matched, and the results are wonderfully rich and unexpectedly sensual…Instrumental numbers have all the group's signature lightness of touch and depth of colour, and the improvisatory freedom and sway of an anonymous Chiaccona is vintage L'Arpeggiata." Gramophone


Theile: Der Sionitin Wiegenlied: Nun, ich singe! Gott, ich knie
Bach, J C: Lamento: Ach, dass ich Wassers g'nug hätte
Bütner: Ich suchte des Nachts in meinem Bette
Theile: Gott, hilf mir
Ritter, C: O amantissime sponse
anon.: Chiaccona a 4 in C Major
Schütz: Von Gott will ich nicht lassen, SWV 366
Erlebach: Kommt, ihr Stunden, macht mich frei
Tunder: Aria. Ein kleines Kindelein
Ahle, J R: Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden
Bertali: Sonata a 6 in E minor
Schütz: Erbarm dich mein, O Herre Gott, SWV447
Bach, J S: Komm, süsser Tod, komm, sel'ge Ruh, BWV 478