CD review: Salvation: Music by Christian Sprenger

Brass Band Frankfurt
Conductor: Hans-Reiner Schmidt
Featuring: The Boys Choir of Limburg Cathedral
Choirmaster: Andreas Bollendorf

Those who seek salvation find it in many different forms.  

This denominational exploration comes via an inventive compositional voice, high class ensemble and an informed conductor.  It is neither deliberately pious nor overtly devout; neither does it come encased by an evangelical wrapping of zealot bling.

This is not surprising given composer Christian Sprenger, although rooted in the choral musical traditions of the Lutheran church, is a former Principal Trombone of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and founder of the brass ensemble Genesis Brass. 

Meanwhile, Frankfurt Brass has an enviable reputation for producing eclectic concert programmes.

Formed in 2010 their tonal foundations are geared to the British brass band tradition, with the CD seen as a “launching point for the band’s further musical development.”

Musical trinity

The musical trinity is completed by conductor Hans-Reiner Schmidt, who for over 20 years was the principal trombonist of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, and co-founder of the Frankfurt Jazz-Big Band. He also toured with Austrian pop singer and 1966 Eurovision Song Contest winner Udo Jurgens.

It’s a persuasive 70-minute musical liturgy though; enhanced by the ethereal choir, a fine recording acoustic and a balanced sense of drama and pathos. 

The familiarity of the 12 works (from the period 1525 through to 1813) are explored with finesse and inventiveness (from High Church baroque seriousness to Hollywoodesque Biblical epics, and even a nod to the opening of ‘John O’Gaunt’ on one track?) as well as sincere understanding.

Compassionate and open, none overstate or overstay their case - the rich tonal harmonies built on Lutheran certainties (three are based on his melodies) despite their questioning arc of the inquisitive lines of communication. 

Persuasive liturgy

It’s a persuasive 70-minute musical liturgy though; enhanced by the ethereal choir, a fine recording acoustic and a balanced sense of drama and pathos. 

The mysteries of omnipotence are left for the listener to work out for themselves.

The band displays a dark tonal palette and texture, razor sharp intonation and a wonderfully contained dynamic, cultured musicality that the MD shapes with such an assured touch.

No fire and brimstone homilies – but more than enough to stir the soul.

The mysteries of omnipotence are left for the listener to work out for themselves.  

Iwan Fox

To purchase: http://https://www.genesis-musikverlag.de/Audio-CD-Salvation

Find out more: https://brassband-frankfurt.de/

Play list:

1. If you will only let God guide you (Georg Neumark – 1657)
2. Blessed Jesu (Tobias Clausnitzer – 1663)
3. I sing to you with heart and mouth (Johann Cruger – 1653)
4. Praise the Lord, the Almighty (Jahrhundert)
5. Commit thou all thy griefs (Paul Gerhardt – 1653)
6. Go forth, my heart and seek delight (August Harder – 1813)  
7. A mighty fortress is our God (Martin Luther – 1529)
8. I will sing my maker’s praises (Johann Schop – 1641)
9. Hymnus – Praise the Lord, all who honour him (Johann Cruger -1653/1662)
10. In these our days so perilous, Lord, peace in mercy send us (Martin Luther – 1529)
11. Now thank we all our God (Martin Rinckart – 1636)
12. Agnus Dei – Lamb of God (Martin Luther – 1525/1528)

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