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After a melismatic section for the solo voices Schütz treats us to a classic example of Baroque word-painting in the fast flurry of sibilants that erupts on the words ‘dispersit superbos’ (‘he has scattered the proud’). The contrast between this animated outburst and the strenuously falling and rising lines of the ensuing section, ‘Deposuit potentes … et exaltavit humiles’ (‘He has put down the mighty … and has exalted the humble and meek’), could hardly be more dramatically apposite. Elsewhere in the Magnificat, the antiphonal effects created by the interplay between the two choirs evoke the sumptuous polychoral music that Schütz’s teacher Gabrieli composed for St Mark’s Cathedral in Venice. As the work approaches its majestic climax, Schütz marshals all his forces for the ‘Gloria’, and his stirring canticle of praise ends with a setting of the text ‘Sicut erat in principio’ that neatly recalls the music ‘As it was in the beginning’.
from notes by Harry Haskell © 2019