Reviews CDs (a selection)

Mozart: Requiem (Naxos 2006)
Werner Weiß, DAS ORCHESTER 10/2006

"[…] And now to the merits of the "Leipzig" requiem. Each movement immediately establishes its own profile, picks up momentum and pleases through an astounding blend of power and ease. Wonderfully articulate and conversational playing in the orchestra corresponds with the vividness and precision of the chorus, which is distinguished by balance and the audibility of the smallest details. The Leipzig vocal ensemble simply sings on the level of the world's best chamber choirs. Seldom one has heard a requiem interpretation like this, where the details and the whole to this extend comes along as a unity. This recording by its seriousness and yet playful mood (Fugue-sections!) not only hints but lets one really believe, which the compositional intentions of Mozart might have been: Death is not a bogey but “my best friend”, as he is known to have said from his early childhood on."

***** RONDO 1/2006

"[...] Schuldt-Jensen draws up the score - in comparison to other recordings - by significantly greater detail. Each subject, each motif is thoroughly developed, dynamically and articulatory audible, and this is always done on the background of the text, respectively in order to animate the rhetorical-musical level of the score. In this respect, Schuldt-Jensen is more courageous than most other conductors: Clear interpretive decisions of the type described above provide a very individual overall result."

MDR Figaro
(comparative broadcast: Christoph Spering, Jordi Savall, Carlo Maria Giulini, William Christie, Philippe Herreweghe, Morten Schuldt-Jensen)

"[...] what musically happens here surpasses the majority of all the other recordings. Here the contrasts are imaginatively and vividly carved out: While the trumpets acoustically warn us of the Last Judgement, Sanctus and Benedictus praise God in all his glory, before the Eternal Light (Lux aeterna) shine on the deceased with divine gentleness. Here dynamics are savoured, the finest nuances are worked out. The Leipzig Chamber Orchestra follows its Chef Morten Schuldt-Jensen focused and reverently, alternating between very intensive and pensive, thoughtful moments. The GewandhausChamberChoir sings beautifully, accurate and very transparent."

Mozart: Klavierkonzert KV 491 (Thorofon 2004)
Christoph Braun, RONDO 09/2004

„Dass diese Spannung unvermindert anhält, ist einer der Gründe, der Einspielung Ausnahmequalitäten zu bescheinigen. […] jede Phrase, jedes Motiv unter die Lupe genommen und organisch atmend modelliert […] das fulminant auftrumpfendes, dabei immer luzide bleibende Spiel betört nicht minder wie die Sorgfalt der Orchesterführung. Nimmt man noch die makellose Kommunikation zwischen beidem hinzu, so fehlt zum Urteil: Referenzeinspielung! nicht viel."

Scarlatti: Sacred Vocal Music (Naxos 2007)
**** RONDO 3/2008

"[...] A brilliant – and on the bottom line perhaps the currently best - recording of the Stabat Mater by Domenico Scarlatti . His opulent vocal writing intensively probes the possibilities of a highly expressive musical-rhetorical implementation of the rich, affective text. And here, Morten Schuldt-Jensen is in his element: Perfectly he has structured the language based musical sentences with the ten vocal soloists, the polyphonic patterns are very clearly worked out, the close interplay between word and music is given a very sculptural interpretive implementation; precision on the level of detail and a magnificent sound unfoldment/display go happily hand in hand."

Schubert: Mass in Eb (Naxos 2008)
Gramophone 05/2008

"Morten Schuldt-Jensen's attractive Naxos version is the swiftest and lightest, with a suggestion of a celestial waltz."

***** RONDO 11/2008

"[...] as flexible and clairaudient as one can imagine; subtle, slender in the legato singing, breathtakingly powerful and extremely precise in the fortissimo outbursts ... Schubert's religious (self-) commitment cannot be brought to us more disturbing and unsparing [...] a new reference recording [...] "

Mozart: Davide Penitente (Naxos 2007)
Patrick Rucker, Fanfare, September 2008

"Davide penitente [is] accorded a vivid and polished performance here under the direction of Morten Schuldt-Jensen. […] The Immortal Bach Ensemble's sound in the choral movements is rich and well blended. […] The accompaniments of the Leipziger Kammerorchester are tactful, supportive, and feature some exquisite wind-playing. […]“

Giv Cornfield,The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, February 2008

"It's gratifying, therefore, to have this new up-to-date, excellent performance available.”

Dominic McHugh,MusicalCriticism.com, January 2008

"This splendid new CD from Naxos offers excellent performances of two of Mozart's lesser-known works: This superlative performance by the Leipziger Kammerorchester under Morten Schuldt-Jensen is now easily a first choice for anyone wanting to hear this piece on record. The choir, Immortal Bach Ensemble, sings with unusual sensitivity towards small details, for instance observing slurs and detached notes in the opening and closing chorus. Conductor Schuldt-Jensen manages to avoid too dense a sound in the concluding fugue thanks to his reduced orchestral and choral forces, and always observes tempo indications with care. ..a particular highlight, with the steady speed allowing the canonic entries of the three soloists to be observed with precision. The mood and atmosphere of this entire performance is a good mixture of interpreting the text in as vivid a way possible within the boundaries of period performance practice.”

Haydn: The Seasons (Naxos 2006)
Jürgen Hinz: DAS ORCHESTER March 2007

"The conductor of this new recording and his ensemble have made it their task to implement the performance practice of the 18 Century on modern instruments. Playing with a non-vibrato slender tone they come very close to the sound spectrum of "original instruments". However, the salient feature of this interpretation is the uncompromisingly precise phrasing and articulation. None of the available comparative recordings, nor those of the proven specialists in historical performance practice come close to the uncompromising result of this recording. The danger of musical phrases dismembering into too small units, is avoided by the use of tempo and especially a dynamic characterisation that seems to let the idea of musical phrasing be born anew. In such a context the many naturalistic onomatopoeia are not curiosities anymore, but function as an integral part of the musical structure. The GewandhausKammerchor is an ideal partner, who seems to overcome great difficulties effortlessly. The chorus „Juh-he, Juh-he! Der Wein ist da" has never before been heard with such empathy […] The performers had the courage to try and realize an extreme position. They gambled and it paid off. Here we experience Haydn as a contemporary of the young Beethoven."

Concerts

A selection of reviews concerning concerts with university-ensembles
A selection of reviews concerning concerts with university-ensembles

Inauguration Concert Freiburg A-cappella (1/2006)

"The man has courage [...] without further ado he decided to try the most difficult of the difficult: Within a week he rehearsed a difficult cappella programme - and this with a college choir, whose members do not sing together and grow to a unity over the years, on the contrary, here they change all the time. Actually, the man is foolhardy. And he wins, too. [...] A completely effortless intonation even in the top soprano. Whether the men's and women's choirs contrast or merge, whether the conductor in the parlando of Heinrich Schütz motet "Die mit Tränen säen" discovers almost dancing structures or in the same composer's " Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes ", lets the groups antiphonally correspond with each other – very soon the main features of his approach to choral work is obvious: clarity, tone, the art of phrasing. Even the most complex vocal patterns, for example in Bach's " Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied " or in Brahms' "Fest- und Gedenksprüche" – here without any faked pathetic emotionality - are offered in absolute transparency. The Missa brevis of the 1915-born Norwegian Knut Nystedt may - in its evocative "Kyrie"-crescendos and even in its delicate harmonic frictions - stand as examples of the sound perception of the new choir master. A well-rounded sound is this, for he also tunes and determines the vertical appearance of the music, the columns of chords. And we do not have to await Bach's motet summit towards the end to realize the value Schuldt-Jensen finds in the fine dynamic and agogic work - rising and falling phrasing artifacts, almost line by line, a collective search for nuances. In Francis Poulenc's "Exultate Deo" it comes almost rhetorically, so does his Bach, witnessing Schuldt-Jensen extremely flowing exegeses. Choral swing – now with basso continuo - is not far away. Even the coloratura chains give the impression of being slurred together, never cut off.Having already been a playful toastmaster the whole evening, in the gospel-related of the Danish jazz violinist and composer Svend Asmussen the professor shows which grand showman qualities he barely manages to disguise.Full house, huge applause.The choir city of Freiburg has a new ace."

Badische Zeitung, Heinz W. Koch

Haydn: The Creation January 2008

"...And it was very good [...] the first overwhelming minutes of an oratorio performance, which delivered what its start promised. Morten Schuldt-Jensen proves at the end of the concert in front of a roaring audience: He is not only a first-rate choral master - he also commands with sovereignty and assertion over the - with enormous grace acting - orchestral apparatus. The choir, Schuldt-Jensen’s immediate sphere: balanced in the groups and thus despite its number of voices never too loud, impeccable intonation, slender, flexible, very clear and effortless - a madrigalesque sound without any overweight. The Archangel Raphael means the first six days of this world - we redirect it to this interpretation: '... and it was very good.'"

Uni Freiburg Newspaper, Manuel Kreitmeier

Duke Ellington – Sacred Concert 4/2008

That rocked the house - Ellington: Sacred Concert "Morten Schuldt-Jensen and his college choir excelled on 21st April in the Concert Hall of the Musikhochschule in Freiburg with a choir concert unsurpassed in quality. [...] Schuldt-Jensen obviously couldn’t get tired to have the hall shake to its foundations: from gospel to Elvis Presley songs, from hot big band swing to cheesy standards, all was played in this noble hall, where this kind of music is normally forbidden. [...] The whole atmosphere could really only be compared to Harlem in the forties. And yet this relaxed exuberance was celebrated on such a high level, was played and sung with such professional concentration that one can really only take one’s hat of to the energetic force of the choir, which under its new choir director obviously is capable of delivering an unexpected quality. [...] After some really great classical concerts Schuldt-Jensen once again demonstrated his broad engagement and importance for the university with this unusual "Sacred Concert". However, his status as a public attraction had obviously already been constituted prior to this evening, because the concert was already completely sold out even before the doors were opened. In the end there were standing ovations and much applause, we hope for a resounding echo."

Immortal Bach Ensemble (a selection)
Niedersächsische Allgemeine Zeitung

"Some concerts just make you happy. […] a paragon of perfect balance and intonation, and not least of musical sensibility and beauty [...]."

Westdeutsche Zeitung

"[...] Schuldt-Jensen demanded - and got- extremely accurate, clear articulation from the singers, and plasticizing the sound as a sculptor he worked out extremely subtle dynamics. The choral sound remained homogeneous even in a hovering and soft breathed pianissimo”

Badische Zeitung

"On the outside reserved, unspectacular and yet full of internal tension Schuldt-Jensen formed the sound structures with his top ensemble, to which nothing seems unreachable. Professionals at work. Great a cappella art was the result. The conductor thus showed how enormously high his standards are. The short visit in heaven was fully at its goal with Bach's double-choir motet, "Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied". So airy, so fresh and nimble. You have never heard coloraturas like this before. Here, we were witnessing true vocal artistry."

Kölner Stadt Anzeiger

"Untroubled was the intonation, even in the in the most difficult of entries into dissonant harmonies. [...] Every voice is a jewel, and yet the ensemble is cast from the same mould."

Westdeutsche Zeitung

"[...] Precise and structurally transparent, sound volume and homogeneity in finely differentiated dynamic design."

Thüringer Allgemeine

"Precise as clockwork, yet full of emotional tension [...]."

Leipziger Kammerorchester (a selection)
Oltner Tagblatt

"A masterpiece of lively interpretation [...]:often hesitant, interrupted by breaks full of life and the finest agogic gradations, he succeeded in giving this rather oddly fragile movement an ideal representation with his illustrious ensemble."

Ruhr Nachrichten

"High spirits, witty, fresh and very brilliant [...]."

Pforzheimer Zeitung

"The minuet is played with a delicacy, agogic flexibility and organic structure beyond compare."