Early Music Day 2021
21 March 2021
This time last year, I had planned to give four concerts for Early Music Day, with three Bach organ recitals (shared with baroque cellist Poppy Walshaw and flautist Annabel Knight) and a special evening concert combining Art Of Moog with the historic organ of St Giles-in-the-Fields. A year later, there is still no possibility of live events in the UK, so here is a far more modest contribution to Early Music Day 2021, with links to recordings of early organ music played on important European historic organs, either from my own recitals or more informal playing.
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La Morte Della Ragione ‘The Death of Reason’
Il Giardino Armonico, Giovanni Antonini
Outhere Music. ALPHA 450. CD Book. 73’07
La Morte della Ragione (The Death of Reason) is the sort of recording that may require you to put on a seat belt before listening. Under the banner of Petrarch’s comment that “Senses reign, and Reason is dead” Il Giardino Armonico take us on a whistlestop tour through a sizeable chunk of early music history. The choice of descriptor is deliberate, as it is also very obviously a showcase for the virtuoso recorder playing of director Giovanni Antonini, which dominates much of the programme and comes vey close to be too clever by half.
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Samuel Scheidt: Tabulatur-Buch, Görlitz 1650
111 four-part Chorale Settings for Organ or Keyboard
116 pages • ISMN: 979-0-001-13600-6 • Softbound
Edition Schott ED 22325
Samuel Scheidt is one of the finest of the North German school of organist-composers that stemmed from the teaching of Sweelinck in Amsterdam. Born in Halle in 1587, he became assistant organist the Moritzkirche in 1603, before studying in Amsterdam between 1607 and 1609. He returned as Court organist to the Margrave of Brandenburg in Halle, where he was soon joined by Michael Praetorius. The Thirty Years War disrupted musical life in Germany. The Margrave fled, and the music of the Court ceased. Scheidt took to private teaching before eventually becoming director of music for the major Halle city churches (Marketkirche, Moritzkirche, and St Ulrich).
In 1624 Scheidt wrote his monumental three-volume Tabulatura Nova, an important collection of works for organ, harpsichord, or clavichord. Scheidt never recovered his earlier financial security and died in some financial trouble. His last publication was this 1650 Görlitzer Tabulaturbuch, named after the city that commissioned the collection of four-part harmonisations of Lutheran chorales. Although there are a few simple harmonised settings, many of them are adventurous little pieces demonstrating Scheidt’s advanced keyboard technique and musical thinking as the early Baroque style of composition developed. Whether or not you would ever use them in a liturgical setting (as seems to have been intended, judging from Scheidt’s introduction where he mentions that the pieces are for “gentlemen organists to play with the Christian community”), they are worth exploring.
This Schott edition is clearly printed, in landscape format. The introduction by editor Klaus Beckmann (in German and English) gives background to the pieces and the editorial process. The critical commentary is, as usual, only in German. Preview pages can be view here. This is apparently the last in the Schott series ‘Masters of the North German Organ School‘, although I hope that is rethought as scholarship on this important repertoire continues to evolve and there must be more composers and pieces to be discovered and edited.
Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654)
Tabulatura Nova III
A Lutheran organ Vespers
The Queen’s College Chapel, Oxford
Wednesday 24 October, 1:10
Andrew’s series of concerts featuring the North German pupils of Sweelinck (the ‘Orpheus of Amsterdam’) continues with this, the second of two recitals of music by one of Sweelinck’s most distinguished pupils, Samuel Scheidt. His influential three-volume Tabulatura Nova was published in 1624 and is one of the most important of all the many collections of organ music. Its 58 pieces are a comprehensive demonstration of compositional styles. Whereas the first two volumes included a variety of sacred and secular pieces in different styles, Volume III consists entirely of Lutheran liturgical music. It opens with settings for the Ordinary of the Mass, followed by the settings of the hymns and Magnificat for a Lutheran Vespers. It ends with one of the most extraordinary pieces of the whole 17th century North German organ repertoire: the powerful Modus pleno Organo pedaliter: Benedicamus à 6 Voc, its six voices divided between four on the manuals and two on the pedals.
Kyrie Dominicale 4. Toni
Gloria Canit Pastor: Et in terra pax
Credo in unum Deum
Hymnus: Veni Creator Spiritus
Magnificat 9 Toni
Psalmus sub Comminione: Jesus Christus, unser Heiland
Modus pleno Organo pedaliter: Benedicamus à 6 Voc
Played on the influential Frobenius organ. More information here.
Admission free – retiring collection.
The Grosvenor Chapel
South Audley Street, Mayfair, London W1K 2PA
Tuesday 11 September, 1:10
Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654)
Tabulatura Nova I
Andrew’s series of concerts featuring the North German pupils of Sweelinck, the ‘Orpheus of Amsterdam’, continues with two recitals of music by one of his most distinguished pupils, Samuel Scheidt. His influential three-volume Tabulatura Nova was published in 1624. It is one of the most important of all collections of organ music. Its 58 pieces are a comprehensive demonstration of compositional styles. This recital, played on the William Drake organ in the Grosvenor Chapel, features three large-scale pieces from Volume 1 of the Tabulatura Nova.
Cantio Sacra: Wie gleuben all an einen Gott
Fantasia: Io son ferito lasso
Cantio Belgica: Ach du feiner Reuter
The next Scheidt recital will be on the famous Frobenius organ in the chapel of The Queen’s College Oxford, on Wednesday 24 October 2018, starting at 1:10. It will be of pieces from Volume 3 of the Tabulatura Nova, in the form of Lutheran Organ Vespers.
Both concerts are free admission, with retiring donations welcomed.
Samuel Scheidt: Keyboard music transmitted in manuscript form
ed. Peter Dirksen
120pp, 230×305 mm, ISMN: 979-0-004-18395-3
Edition Breitkopf EB8831.
Following the three volumes of Scheidt’s Tabulatura Nova (reviewed here), the most recent of the Breitkopf Scheidt edition, recently published, covers the keyboard music found in manuscript sources. The importance of his three volume Tabulatura Nova has meant that the music not included in those volumes is usually overlooked, Continue reading →
Samuel Scheidt: Tabulatura Nova III
ed. Harald Vogel
192pp, 230×305 mm, ISMN: 979-0-004-18122-5
Edition Breitkopf EB8567.
Breitkopf & Härtel have completed their important four volume series of the organ and keyboard works of Samuel Scheidt. Volumes I & II of Scheidt’s monumental 1624 Tabulatura Nova were published as EB 8565 and EB 8566 (containing works SSWV 102-126 & 127-138 respectively), both edited by Harald Vogel, as is the third volume, EB 8567 reviewed here. This contains works SSWV 139-158, the nine Magnificat settings together with a Kyrie and Hymn settings and Continue reading →
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 →
Conversations avec Dieu
Le Concert Étranger. Itay Jedlin
Ambronay AMY045. 77’17
Motets and Cantatas by Hammerschmidt, Scheidt, Telemann and Bruhns. Organ pieces by Scheidemann and Scheidt. Instrumental pieces by Monteverdi, Hammerschmidt and Rosenm:uller.
One of the musical traditions of German Lutheran church music was the sacred cantata or motet addressed directly to God, often in a conversational style, with a response to the plea coming either from God or, more frequently, from Jesus or other believers. This CD explores several examples of this genre, with a focus on the composer Andreas Hammerschmidt, given an overdue bit of exposure. Although he was well known in his day, and composed more than 400 works, his music is not often performed today. It is in a relatively simple style, in comparison with his contemporaries, and shows the gradual development of a true German Baroque style, built on the influence of Italian models. Five of his vocal works are included here, together with an instrumental Pavane. Continue reading →