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Born in Naumburg in 1646, Johann Thiele was a pupil of Heinrich Schütz and worked as a freelance composer and teacher in Lübeck before taking up Kapellmeister positions first with Duke Christian Albrecht of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf and then with Duke Anton Ulrich of Wolfenbüttel, a state which according to the notes for this CD deserves to be better known as a cultural hub of northern Germany in the early modern era. Thiele’s intimate, economical setting of the St Matthew Passion, published in 1673, is performed immaculately here by a very small ensemble; the soloists combine for the choruses and are accompanied by two violins, three viols, an organ and a chitarrone. I loved everything about this recording, from the eloquent, sinuous score to the range of instrumental colour – alternating poignant delicacy with surprising power – and committed performances from singers whose voices satisfyingly combine warmth with purity.

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