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Sweelinck: Organ & Keyboard Music / Siegbert Rampe


Release Date: 02/22/2005 
Label:  Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm) Gold Catalog #: 3411256   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Not the least important feature of this generously timed issue is the wide diversity of historical instruments (or copies) employed by Siegbert Rampe, whose exceptionally detailed notes provide extensive information on their background. This immediately has potential advantages for two types of prospective buyer. For those who, like myself, recognize Sweelinck’s stature and importance, but do not consider ourselves specialists in this repertoire, the wide variety of sonorities and tonal colors facilitates longer stretches of interest than is sometimes possible when the music is played on a single instrument. Secondly, the use of six carefully selected instruments makes this an issue of prime value to anyone interested in historic keyboards Read more and organs.

For them it will be of interest to provide the basic details. The two organs are of particular interest, one, now situated in St. Andreaskirche Soest-Ostönen (Westphalia) having been recently established as the oldest playable organ in existence. It was constructed around 1425 by an anonymous builder, and restored by Rowan West in 2003. The other, sited in St. Stephanskirche Tangermünde (Sachsen-Anhalt), dates from 1624 and is the work of Hans Scherer the younger, a member of a Hamburg family of builders who was influenced by the instruments of Heinrich (or Hendrik) Niehoff, the man responsible for the two instruments in the Amsterdam Oude Kerk famously played by Sweelinck in his morning and evening recitals. Although not original instruments, the two clavichords played by Rampe also excite interest, one being a copy by Martin Kathner of Hamburg of the oldest surviving clavichord, an anonymous Italian instrument dating from around 1540, the other an anonymous South German pedal clavichord dating from more than a century later, and copied by Jörg Gobeli of Berne. Finally, both the harpsichord and virginals are also historic instruments presently housed in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nuremberg, the former built by Andreas Ruckers in Antwerp (1637), the latter by Artus Gheerdick in Amsterdam in 1605. With the exception of the Italian organ, which is tuned to Arnold Sclick’s 1512 temperament, all these instruments are tuned to mean-tone temperament, an essential component for a truly accurate style of performance in Sweelink’s keyboard music.

This falls into four fundamental categories, all represented on the present disc: Toccatas (identified in the heading by T numbers), polyphonic fantasias, of which the famous Fantasia crommatica is one of the most striking examples, chorale settings (C numbers), and sets of variations (V numbers). Within the context of these dry facts Rampe has selected a staggeringly varied selection of pieces that range from the delightful set of variations on the song Mein junges Leben, played on the wonderfully delicate Italian clavichord with its bell-like tones, to the monumental Phantasia. The latter, which brings the program to an overwhelming conclusion, builds inexorably from a somber opening in which the disconcertingly striking benefits of the mean-tone tuning are clearly apparent, to a mighty edifice of ever increasing complexity. Sweelinck’s indebtedness to English music is specifically underlined in two works, the set of variations on John Dowland’s famous Lachrimae tune, their close relationship to the melancholy intimacy of the original heard to ideal advantage on the German clavichord, and the introspective set of variants on a Pavan by Peter Philips, the English Catholic known personally by Sweelinck after he settled in Brussels, appropriately played on the virginals. Italian influences are here, too, most notably in the exuberant variations on the famous Ballo del Gran Duca, one of the rare instances where I felt the instrument chosen, the virginals, was not quite appropriate, and the Echo, played on the Tangermünde organ, and a work clearly in the same mold as similar works by the Gabrielis. Neither can I let pass mention of the 15th-century organ, a splendidly characterful and bright instrument, whose unusual clarity of voicing allows the contrapuntal complexity of the Chromatic Fantasy to emerge with unusual transparency.

Rampe’s playing of all this music on so many instruments is remarkable, not only technically assured (listen, for example, to his dazzling fingerwork in the variations on Unter der linden grüne, played on the richly toned and full-bodied Ruckers harpschord), but informed by a profound musicality and idiomatic understanding that allows him to grasp and shape the huge architectural span of the Phantasia. It remains only to add that in addition to the performer’s notes, full specifications of the organs are given, along with the registrations Rampe uses for each work. Praise, too, for the manner in which MDG’s editors have allowed the quietly voiced clavichords their natural volume level (please don’t turn it up), which means that if you play the disc at one sitting, you’ll be blown away by the Tangermünde organ. That’s the way it should be, and it marks the care with which this very superior production has been planned. Whether you’re already attracted to the composer, or looking for an introduction to the great Sweelinck, this is an indispensable disc.

Brian Robins, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1.
Toccata for Keyboard "Dorian" by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Netherlands (Holland 
2.
Fantasia chromatica by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Netherlands (Holland 
3.
Toccata for Keyboard "Aeolian" by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Netherlands (Holland 
4.
Ons is gheboren een kindekijn "Puer nobis nascitur" by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Netherlands (Holland 
5.
Pavana Lachrimae by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Netherlands (Holland 
6.
Mein junges Leben hat ein End by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Netherlands (Holland 
7.
Variations (7) on Vluchtige Nimph by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Netherlands (Holland 
8.
Onder een linde groen "Unter der Linden grüne" by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Netherlands (Holland 
9.
Malle Sijmen (Silly Simon), variations for organ (doubtful), SwWV 323 by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Netherlands 
10.
Ballo del granduca by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Netherlands (Holland 
11.
Pavana Philippi by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Netherlands (Holland 
12.
Echo Fantasia for Keyboard "Ionian" by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Netherlands (Holland 
13.
Psalms of David, Book 1: Psalm 36, Du malin le meschant vouloir by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1604; Netherlands (Holland 

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