J Praetorius & Schildt organ works

Jacob Praetorius & Melchior Schildt
Selected organ works
Bernard Foccroulle
Ricercar RIC400. 68’05

Praetorius: Fantasia sopra Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt; Praeambulum in F;
Vater unser im Himmelreich; Von allen Menschen abgewandt
Schildt: Herr Christ, der einig Gottessohn; Magnificat 1. toni; Praeambulum in G

1467/1637 Stellwagen organ, Jacobikirche, Lûbeck

Jacob Praetorius (1586-1651) and Melchior Schildt (1592-1667) were two of the leading pupils of the Amsterdam organist Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck. Praetorius was the son of the Hamburg organist Hieronymus Praetorius whose own father, Jacob Praetorius the Elder (d. 1586) was also an organist/composer. The family are not related to Michael Praetorius. Like his forebears, Jacob Praetorious was organist of the Hamburg Petrikirche and was the teacher of Matthias Weckmann. Melchior Schildt also came from a family of musician, in his case from Hannover. After three years as court organist to the King of Denmark, he replaced his father as organist of the Marktkirche in 1629 and remained there until his death. Only six of his organ works have survived.

This is the last of Bernard Foccroulle’s recordings of Northern German organ music of the Baroque, an enormously influential period that formed the basis for German organ music for centuries. The Lûbeck Jacobikirche organ is one of the most important surviving historic North German instruments. The pipes of the principal chorus date back to the original blockwerk organ of 1467, and were retained in Stellwagen’s 1637 rebuild. It is an organ that Buxtehude, the pinnacle of the North German organ tradition, would have known while he was organist of the nearby Marienkirche. Foccroulle’s choice of registrations are an object lesson in period practice, both in his use of distinctive solo registers and in the practice of usually having the pedals and manuals at the same pitch. The first track, played on the 1467 Gothic chorus, demonstrates this with manuals and pedal both at 16′ pitch.

Pretorius’s chorale fantasia on Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt is incomplete, but Foccroulle has completed it in the same echo style, resurrecting it from its current obscurity. It is an early example of a genre that reached its peak in Reincken’s monumental An Wasserflüssen Babylon (see here). Schildt’s Magnificat 1. toni includes a similar fantasia as one of it five verses, its virtuoso writing including a quote from a Sweelinck Echo Fantasia. It opens with a slightly archaic use of double pedalling, a technique from the Renaissance era that just about survived to the time of Bach.

Bernard Foccroulle plays with a fine sense of period style with none of those personal mannerisms that can begin to irritate on repeated listening to recordings.