For those who came to this recital, despite the travel problems, the encore that I played was Thomas Tomkins: “Sad Paven for these distracted times”
It seemed appropriate
“Upon thes nots“
Two 450th anniversaries – Thomas Tomkins & Michael Praetorius
Andrew Benson-Wilson, organ
St George’s, Hanover Square, London W1S 1FX
1 March 2022, 1:10
This recital contrasts the contrasting music of two composers born 600 miles apart, 450 years ago. It also reflects the way in which the two composers treat melodic lines, whether in the form of a powerful Lutheran hymn or the seven-note plainchant-based phrase upon which Tomkins based his monumental Offertory, noting in the opening bar that the piece was based “upon thes nots“.
Thomas Tomkins 1572–1656
“For Mr Arc[hdeacon] ThornBurgh”
“Mr Thomas Tomkins offertorye” [upon thes nots] (1637)
Michael Praetorius 1571-1621
O lux beata Trinitas (Hymnodia Sionia, 1611)
Chorale Fantasia: Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott (Musæ Sioniæ VII, 1609)
Thomas Tomkins was organist of Worcester Cathedral until its closure during the Civil War as well as the Chapel Royal in London. Michael Praetorius was organist and Kapellmeister in the courts of the Duke of Wolfenbüttel and the Elector of Saxony in Dresden.
The concert is given on the Richards, Fowkes & Co organ in Handel’s church of St George’s Hanover Square as part of the Mayfair Organ Concerts series. Admission is free, with a retiring collection.
The programme notes can be found here.
Michael Praetorius: Mass for Christmas Morning
Gabrieli Consort & Players, Paul McCreesh
DRET Youth Choir & Primary All Stars
St John’s, Smith Square, 17 December 2019
The Gabrieli Consort & Players revived their popular 1994 recording reconstructing a typical Central German Lutheran Christmas Mass from around 1620. With an extraordinary range of instruments and singers spread around the stage and galleries of St John’s, Smith, this was a spectacular performance. The sheer logistics of it all were remarkable, with frequent movement of singers and instruments around the concert hall. Continue reading
Jacob Praetorius & Melchior Schildt
Selected organ works
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.
There is no rose
The Gesualdo Six, Owain Park
St John’s, Smith Square, 14 December 2018
Although only formed four years ago, The Gesualdo Six have gained an impressive following, not least at St John’s, Smith Square where they were one of the four members of the second Young Artists Scheme in 2015/16. They used that residency to launch their Composition Competition at SJSS, with the second following in 2019. For their concert in this year’s SJSS Christmas Festival, they gave a mixed programme of Christmas music ranging from plainchant and the early 15th century Trinity Carol Roll and music by Taverner and Tallis, through to living composers, including their own director Owain Park. Continue reading
Golden Age of North German Organ Music
Organ Music & Vocal Works by Buxtehude, Hassler, Praetorius & Scheidemann
Kei Koito, Il Canto di Orfeo
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, 88985437672. 73’15
This CD features a comprehensive survey of the important 17th -century North German School of organist composers, broadly covering the generations of composers between the Hamburg Sweelinck pupils and Buxtehude. The latter’s predecessor in Lübeck, Franz Tunder, opens the programme with his ebulient Praeludium in g. The programme then broadly follows the format of a organ chorale prelude followed by the relevent chorale, sung by the Italian choir Il Canto di Orfeo, directed by Gianluca Capuano. The organ used is the well-known 1624 Hans Scherer instrument in the Stephanskirche, Tangermünde, Germany, a splendid example of the early 17th-century North German organ building tradition. It’s impressive range of colours and textures are explored to the full in Kei Koito’s choice of registrations.
Praetorius: Mass for Christmas Morning
Gabrieli Consort & Players, Paul McCreesh
St John’s, Smith Square
7 December 2017
The 500th anniversary of the Reformation gave the Gabrieli Consort & Players the chance to revisit the music of their most successful recording, Praetorius’s Mass for Christmas Morning. The recording dates from 1994 and was recorded in the splendour of Denmark’s Roskilde Cathedral. That venue was chosen because of the historic Roskilde organ, dating back to 1544 with additional work in 1611, 1654 and the 1690s, the whole restored back to its pre-1700 state. For this short tour, the Gabrieli Consort & Players visited Hull, Bradford and London’s St John’s, Smith Square, on each occasion joining with local choirs to expand the resources. Continue reading
South Audley Street, Mayfair, London
Tuesday 17 October, 1:10
Jacob Praetorius and Heinrich Scheidemann
Andrew Benson-Wilson’s exploration of the 17th century North German organ repertoire continues with a recital of music by two influential pupils of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, the famous ‘Orpheus of Amsterdam’. Jacob Praetorius (1586-1651) and Heinrich Scheidemann (c1595-1663) both went on to prestigious posts in Hamburg churches. Praetorius taught Weckmann and Scheidemann taught Reinken and, possibly, Buxtehude.
Jacob Praetorius (1586-1651)
Praeambulum in F
Von Allen Menachem abgewandt
Heinrich Scheidemann (c1596-1663)
Praeludium in F
Magnificat Sexti Toni
Alleluja Laudem dicite Deo nostro
The 1723 ‘Bach’ organ, Störmthal, Leipzig, Germany
Wednesday 15 June 2016
And then came Bach
Composers with Central German connections in the years before Bach. Continue reading
Innsbrucker Festwochen der Alten Musik
20-24 August 2015
The annual Innsbruck Festival of Early Music runs for the last 3 weeks of August (14-28) and includes amongst its many events the Cesti international baroque opera singing competition (reviewed separately) and an opera cast from finalists of the previous year’s Cesti competition. This year I was only able to be in Innsbruck for four days (20-24 August) rather than my usual week, so missed some of the potential highlights, including Porpora’s opera Il Germanica and a recital on the rarely heard little 1580 Italian organ in the Silberne Kapelle of the Hofkirche. The theme of the festival was “Stylus phantasticus” but, as in previous years, this was rather loosely interpreted.
The festival opened (for me) in one of the many architectural delights of Innsbruck, the Schloss Ambras (a Hapsburg stronghold since the 1300s) and, in particular, the spectacular Renaissance Spanischer Saal, built for Archduke Ferdinand II around 1570. Niccolo Jommelli’s intermezzo Don Trastullo was originally intended to be performed in two halves between the acts of an opera – making for a long evening. Like others of its kind, it is a light comedy. With just three characters (and a large box from or into which they occasionally popped), the story tells of the elderly Don who is deceived by a flirtatious young woman Arsenia. The actual relationship between them is unclear, but he clearly has taken a shine to her. She leads him on, whilst secretly planing to hoodwink him and make off with his money and her actual lover, an alleged Baron, Giambarone. For this performance, the three characters were sung by soprano Robin Johannsen, bass Federico Sacchi and tenor Franscesco Castoro, with direction from Christoph von Bernuth. The orchestra was the ten-strong Academia Montis Regalis, conducted from the harpsichord by the festival director Alessandro De Marchi.
Sietze de Vries, organ
Fugue State Records/JSB Records FSRCD007. 79’37
Jacob Praetorius, Reincken, Bach and improvisation
The recent reconstruction of the famous Hamburg Katherininkirche organ was major landmark in the organ world. Its nickname of the ‘Bach organ’ (or ‘ an organ for Bach’) is misleading, and relates to the visit of Bach in 1720. But it could equally, and with far more accuracy, be described as the ‘Scheidemann’ or ‘Reincken’ organ (Katherininkirche organists for nearly 100 years from 1629-1722), both of whom had far more influence on its development, and whose music it better represents. Its roots go back to about 1400, and it had reached an advanced state by 1605 when Continue reading