This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
SWEELINCK Organ Works, Vol. 1 • Harald Vogel (org) • MDG 914 1690-6 (SACD: 78:42)
Toccata ex d (d1), SwVW 285. Echo-Fantasia ex d (d4), SwVW 261. Read more class="ARIAL12b">Psalm 116, SwVW 313. Fantasia à 4 (a1 / b-a-c-h), SwVW 273. Toccata à 4 Voc. ex a (a3), SwVW 298. Erbarm dich mein o Herre Gott, SwVW 303. Ave maris stella: Canon, SwVW 193. Capriccio, SwVW 281. Allemanda: Soll es sein, SwVW 330. Toccata ex g (g4), SwVW 295
& GOUDIMEL Psalm 116 (Tenorsatz). Demonstration of the Organ Registration
Stop the presses and press the stops! This CD of works by Jan-Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562–1621) heralds a major and exciting series that, if it fulfills its initial high promise, will be both an exceptional treat and an indispensable acquisition for all lovers of organ music. Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of this release is the instrument employed—the famed “Swallow’s Nest” organ of St. Marien-Kirche in Lemgo in northwestern Germany. The main case was built by the Dutch Siegel family between 1586 and 1595, with the lateral cases for the pedal organ and the front pipes produced by the German Scherer family of Hamburg in 1612–13. It is the only late Renaissance organ of the Dutch-North German style to have survived to the present relatively intact and without major inauthentic modifications. Under the supervision of organist Harald Vogel (who in his photo even looks like a 17th-century personage!), the organ has recently undergone a complete reconstruction, with detailed specifications given in the booklet notes. The approximately 65 minutes of music from 11 compositions is supplemented by 25 tracks totaling about 14 minutes, in which organist Vogel demonstrates (with brief spoken introductions in German) the various registrations of the organ.
The results are an unqualified, even smashing, success. The organ is simply fabulous, an absolutely ideal match for this music in a way no instrument of a later vintage can be. Vogel is a supremely gifted interpreter of this music (with Pieter Dirksen he has co-edited new editions of Sweelinck’s works for Breitkopf), having at his command an astonishing array of voices and tonal colors that he uses with exceptionally vivid imagination and aptitude. Like a consort of Renaissance strings and winds, the music sighs, whispers, drones, burbles, crackles, and trumpets. The recorded sound will almost literally as well as figuratively knock your socks off; organs are notoriously far harder to record than even full orchestras, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard any other organ CD in which the instrument’s presence is so full, immediate, and realistic, with the SACD layer adding even more depth to set one afloat in a veritable acoustic ocean. MDG always produces stellar recorded sound, but here the label has really topped itself. Finally, there is the music itself; while J. S. Bach is necessarily the lodestar for organ music, I have an especial fondness for organ music of the Renaissance as opposed to the Baroque, and in that area Sweelinck is the supreme master. While his compositions draw on dance forms such as the allemande, he was also an early pioneer in developing the capriccio, fantasia, and toccata as distinct genres of keyboard compositions, and is credited with writing the first organ fugue in the classic form later developed by Bach. (Intriguingly, the longest piece on this disc is a fantasia on the B-A-C-H motif.)
About Sweelinck himself not a great deal is known. He was born in Deventer, and raised in Haarlem; his organist father, Pieter Swybbertszoon, died when he was 11, and Sweelinck subsequently adopted his mother’s surname as his own. According to his pupil Cornelis Plemp, Sweelinck was appointed organist of the renowned Oude Kirk in Amsterdam at age 15, a position he held for the remainder of his life. In 1578 the city officially adopted the Reformed faith and the church was duly converted from Catholic to Protestant usage. Since baptismal records there exist for three of Sweelinck’s six children (he married in 1590), the oldest of which succeeded to the organist’s position upon his father’s death, he is assumed to have converted as well. (Some sources suggest that he may have continued to adhere to Catholicism, at least in secret, but this seems unlikely.) Except for occasional visits to other Dutch cities to inspect organs, he appears to have spent the remainder of his life in Amsterdam; despite this he was renowned and influential in both Germany and England. For unknown reasons, during his lifetime he published only his vocal compositions (more than 250) and not his keyboard works.
While there are several discs in print of selections from Sweelinck’s oeuvre for organ, there has previously been only one integral series. In 2002 NM Classics released a nine-CD set (NM92119) of the complete keyboard works—six discs for organ, three for harpsichord—performed by 15 different keyboard soloists, including such immediately recognizable names as Pieter Dirksen, Pieter-Jan Belder, and Bob van Asperen; somehow it escaped review in these pages. While still in print, it is rather difficult to track down; those who desire complete details for it (a list of works and their respective performers, timings, disc layouts, etc., plus sound clips and a detailed review by Mark Sealey upon its 2007 reissue) can piece those together from the websites for classical.net, allmusic.com, and mdt.co.uk. That is an excellent set, and comes with a lavishly detailed 200-plus-page hardback book in English, French, Spanish, German, and Dutch, with essays on sources and spurious and apocryphal works. While this series of separate discs will not match that for documentation, and presumably will not include the harpsichord works (though it appears that at least some works performed on harpsichord in the NM set will be included in this series as organ pieces), it bids fair to surpass it for both interpretations and recorded sound, which in the last analysis counts for even more. You can’t go wrong with either alternative, but this initial entry for a new series is simply superlative and has my highest recommendation.
Recommended -- Eagerly Awaiting Vol. 2March 23, 2013By W. Wilborn (Richwood, TX)See All My Reviews"I consider this SACD to be excellent in every respect: artistry, sound engineering, and music program. This organ produces sounds full of color, just fabulous. The informative booklet describes the organ and its restoration, the highly qualified performer, and the composer and his music. Initially, I was not keen on the last 25 tracks (14 minutes) which demonstrate the various registrations of the organ and described in spoken German, but now after listening and following along in the booklet, I found the demonstrations to be very educational. Organ purists might perhaps like this demonstration as well. (My German is rusty after 40 years.) Nonetheless, I do highly recommend this CD to interested parties and I eagerly await Volume 2."Report Abuse
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