Tunder World: The Baroque Keyboard
Musica Poetica: Simon Lloyd & Oliver John Ruthven, organs
St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, 27 April 2017
Amongst their other musical activities, the enterprising young group, Musica Poetica, are currently running a year-long monthly series of lunchtime concerts based on the music and times of Franz Tunder (1614-1667) the anniversary of whose death is this year, just three years after the anniversary of his birth. For this concert, they focussed on the keyboard music of Tunder, together with his possible teacher, Frescobaldi, his contemporary Froberger (who also died in 1667) and his successor as organist of the Lübeck Marienkirche, as his son-in-law, Dieterich Buxtehude.
Frustratingly, the outstanding organ case from the 1670 Thomas Harris organ (pictured) contains, as in the case in many City of London churches, a very much later instrument that is now no longer playable, and an electronic organ is currently substituting. This was joined by a little chamber organ. Simon Lloyd opened on the electronic organ, playing Frescobaldi’s unusual ‘Praeludium’, the only piece he composed with that title. It was followed by the sensuous Toccata cromatica per le levatione from the 1635 Messa della Domenica, played by Oliver John Ruthven on the chamber organ.
Tunder himself was represented by a Praeludium in G minor and one of his major chorale fantasias, on Christ lag in Todesbanden. This complicated piece was written for the large west-end organ in the Marienkirche and uses a wide variety of musical devices, including many involving frequent manual changes that, towards the end, lead up to a passage of rapid too-and-fro between manuals that is almost impossible to play. Rather cleverly, the two organists divided the work between themselves, the chamber organ playing echo to the electronic organ (whose speakers are located in the base of the main organ case).
Froberger and Buxtehude were both represented by keyboard suites, not intended for organ, but both sounded good on the two organs.
Musica Poetica continue their lunchtime series until November, on the last Thursday of every month. Details of future Musica Poetica Tunder concerts can be found here. I hope they don’t mind if I also add a plug for my own recital or Tunder’s organ music at St George’s, Hanover Sq, next Tuesday 9 May, details here.