United Continuo Ensemble
CPO 555 123-2
By his own account, Erasmus Kindermann was pressured by friends into setting poems by Martin Opitz to music and did so in works such as his Opitianischer Orpheus. The poems that he chose for the most part were selections from the Bücher Deutscher Poemata. The texts of the songs mostly focus on themes taken from ancient models: »carpe diem« and »memento mori« as well as love’s joy and love’s grief. Poems with moral and religious content and for special occasions and entertainment are also represented, and the pastoral idyll often provides the scenic background. The instrumental preludes and interludes consist of only a few measures but very skillfully render the character of the particular song and underscore its textual message. In the subtitle of his Opitianischer Orpheus Kindermann terms his poem settings »Musical Delights,« in this way clearly emphasizing his intention not to compose laments on sad times but instead to convey joy, intellectual stimulation, and pleasure. Instead of designing the music for the poems in his Opitianischer Orpheus as an opulent work in multiple voices for a larger concert setting, Kindermann very deliberately chose chamber music as his medium. He presumably had in mind, both in view of the performers and the audience members, a group of music lovers with literary ambitions who had received a humanistic education and met for social gatherings in order to present songs or to listen to their recital. • The composer intentionally refrained from including broad melismas in the song melodies. As a result, the individual songs develop a characteristically strong succinctness that continues to resonate and invites listeners to sing and play along in enjoyable social settings.
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