The monumental and solemn idiom which is characteristic of Knüpfer appears clearly in the grandly scored Psalm-setting Ach Herr, strafe mich nicht in deinem Zorn
(‘O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger’). The effect of this work is not solely due to the combination of great structural skilfulness and refined, elaborate instrumentation, but also to the deliberate crossing of traditional genre boundaries. For this piece, which probably originates from the period 1670 to 1675, Knüpfer chooses the key of C minor, a most unusual tonality for that time. In addition he utilizes (alongside the obligatory five-part string ensemble) trumpets and timpani, instruments that are hardly ever heard in this key. The unusual sound quality is also due to the two ‘flutes’, although it is not absolutely clear exactly what instruments Knüpfer intended. A copy of the score in Berlin marks the parts as ‘Traversi’ flutes; however, the tessitura of the parts would result in unsolvable performance difficulties. Another copy in Dresden asks for ‘Flauti’ (recorders) and this recording follows that instruction. In the context of this composition, the symbolism of these instruments is strangely altered, almost distorted. The sound of the recorders does not stand (as it usually does) for gentleness and sweetness but symbolizes quiet humility and painful agony, and the trumpets and timpani demonstrate not God’s glory and splendour but instead portray his raging wrath and cruel mercilessness, only moderating in the unexpected, conciliatory concluding C major cadence.
from notes by Peter Wollny © 2000
English: Viola Scheffel