Saul, Saul, was verfolgst du mich? from the Symphoniae sacrae III by Heinrich Schutz (1585-1672).
(“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?
It will become hard for you
to kick against the thorns.” – Acts 9:4-5)
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
A cool and rainy Saturday here at Port Swiller Manor means ol’ Robbo really can’t hide in the yard as usual, but instead has been dragooned into getting the house cleaned up for a stay by the Former Llama Military Correspondent, who will be in town this weekend for the Army Ten-Miler. (At the moment, I’m waiting on the sheets in the washing machine.)
Anyhoo, I first heard this piece thirty-mumble years ago in a college musick class and was deeply impressed by it. Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t take in the compositional facts of the piece and somehow got it into my head that it was something out of Handel. After that, I lost touch with it completely.
However, I am currently reading Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner and came across a discussion of Schutz’s influence on Bach that contained a detailed description of this piece. I immediately recognized it and happily scurried off to yootoobz to indulge myself. It’s far more moving – and indeed, awe-inspiring – than I remember even from back in the day. (Well, it ought to be, oughten it? Something wrong with me otherwise.)
I haven’t made up my mind about whether or not I like Gardiner’s book yet, by the bye. It is very informative about Bach’s life and influences, but so far the narrative has a somewhat uneven quality about it, with a tendency to go back and forth between dense analysis and flighty by-the-ways. Also, Gardiner’s ego keeps bubbling up – we don’t refer to him ’round here as “John Eliot Full-Of-Himself” for nothing, you know.