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Heinrich SCHEIDEMANN (1595 - 1663)
Magnificat I Toni

Benedicam Domino (after Lassus)
Jeus Christus, unser Heiland (III)
Preambulum in F major
Canzona in F major
Nun bitter wir den heiligen Geist
Preambulum in D minor
Mensch, willst du leben seliglich
In dich hav ich gehoffed, Herr (II)
Preambulum in G minor
O Gott, wir danekn deiner Gut
Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn (II)

De ore prudentis procedit mel (after Lassus)
Magnificat V Toni

Julia Brown (organ)
Rec. 17-18 September 1999, Central Lutheran Church, Eugene, Oregon, USA
NAXOS 8.555876 [79.02]
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Scheidemann came from an organ playing family; his father, a native of Hamburg, was working as an organist in Holstein when Heinrich Scheidemann was born. Scheidemann’s father went on to become organist of the Catherinenkirche in Hamburg and the church supported Scheidemann’s three years of study in Amsterdam with Sweelinck. Sweelinck is one of those figures who developed an enormous reputation and influence not due to his travelling but because of the wide range of his pupils. Scheidemann would go on to take his father’s position in Hamburg and become one of the most influential figures in North German organ music. He extended and developed Sweelinck’s style to create his own distinctive voice.

This recital is the fourth volume in Naxos’s series of Scheidemann’s organ works. Given that Scheidemann is currently extremely under-represented in the catalogue, Naxos are to be congratulated on their making available such a wide range of his music. This volume, like the previous one, is played by Julia Brown on the Brombaugh Organ in the Central Lutheran Church, Eugene, Oregon. This instrument dates from 1976, built by John Brombaugh and Associates. It has mechanical key and stop action with a keyboard compass of 56 notes in the manuals (C-g’’’) and 30 notes in the pedal (C-f’). It has 38 stops, 60 ranks with 2728 pipes and a wind-pressure of 87 mm. It is tuned in unequal temperament using Herbert Anton Kellner’s "Bach" of 1978.

Scheidemann wrote an important series of Magnificat settings which were only discovered in 1955. Each one of the cycle is on one of the eight psalm tones. Included on this disc are the Magnificats on the tones I and V. Theses organ verses were designed to replace the sung 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th verses; evidently a Hamburg tradition.

Also amongst Scheidemann’s compositions are a series of 12 embellished versions of motets by other composers (1 by Praetorius, 3 by Hassler and 7 by Lassus). Unfortunately, the origins of these pieces are lost to us. This disc includes two pieces based on motets by Lassus, Benedicam Domino and De ore prudentis procedit mel, a 5-part motet dating from 1565. Lassus had died in 1594, just before Scheidemann was born and these motets could be seen as Scheidemann’s way of using the contemporary tradition of improvisation to act as a tribute to a great predecessor.

The three Praeambulum (in F major, D minor and G minor) are preludes, each of which has a significant fugal section. In the Canzona in F major the influence of Froberger and Frescobaldi can be heard.

Finally, the disc includes a group of choral preludes. Scheidemann was an important figure in the development of this form, following Sweelinck’s example.

Julia Brown provides fine performances of all of the music, though there were moments when I would have liked more flexibility and fluency in her interpretations. This is an excellent disc for those interested in the development of North German organ music. But I would hesitate to recommend it to a newcomer, unfamiliar with the style.

Robert Hugill

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