In the Concerts spirituels established by Duke Friedrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, called “the Pious” (reigned 1756–1785), which in his time represented the main platform for courtly music at the residence of Ludwigslust, apart from the cantata based on newly written sacred poetry there were two other well-defined genres represented regularly: the psalm setting and the large-scale vocal chorale setting. In present-day usage these genres, which in the pertinent sources are simply called “psalm” (Salmo) and “chorale” (Corale), are usually referred to as psalm cantatas and chorale cantatas respectively. These works were not intended to be treated as individual compositions but were considered sections of a larger unit: The “chorales” and the “psalms” were ideally performed in a fixed, thematically related union consisting of two chorale cantatas (here “Zu dir, Herr Jesu, komme ich; Mein Geist und Sinn ist hoch erfreut”) framing a central psalm cantata (here psalm 32).
In 1767 C. A. F. Westenholtz was made concertmaster by Duke Friedrich and in 1770 advanced to the position of kapellmeister, succeeding Johann Wilhelm Hertel, who gave up his position of court composer when the chapel moved to Ludwigslust.
Altogether Westenholtz’ large-scale cycle of Verschiedene Texte – the main achievement of a composer who was little known beyond his immediate sphere of action – represents a musical document of surprising quality. At the same time it manifests a unique concept of sacred music and its cultivation in the second half of the eighteenth century.
(Karl Heller, translation by Stephanie Wollny)