Arp-Schnitger-Orgel Norden, Vol. 3
Brande champanje*/**/*** [2:37]
Samuel SCHEIDT (1587-1654)
Veni Creator Spiritus* [8:03]
Dieterich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707)
Prelude in d minor (BuxWV 140)*[6:30]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält (BWV 1128), chorale
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Variations on 'Ah vous dirai-je Maman' (KV 265)*(arr.
Agnes Luchterhandt) [12:34]
Johann Sebastian BACH
Toccata, adagio and fugue in C (BWV 564)** [14:38]
Georg BÖHM (1661-1733)
Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten, chorale variations**
Te Deum laudamus (BuxWV 218)** [14:15]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Andante and variations in G (KV 501)*/** (arr. Agnes Luchterhandt)
Agnes Luchterhandt*, Thiemo Janssen** (organ)
Sven Neumann (kettledrum, tambourine)***
rec. 14 - 16 November 2011, Ludgerikirche, Norden, Germany. DDD
MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM
Arp Schnitger (1648-1719) is considered the most important organ
builder in Northern Europe during the baroque period. His firm,
after his death continued by two of his sons, built more than
170 instruments. Most of those that have survived can be found
in Germany and the Netherlands. Among the most famous instruments
is the one in the Ludgerikirche in Norden, a town in East Frisia.
The two main organs which preceded the present instrument were
built by Andreas de Mare in 1567 and by Edo Evers in 1616. In
1686 a contract was signed with Arp Schnitger who built an organ
for which he reused 10 registers from the Evers organ. The instrument
was divided into Hauptwerk, Rückpositiv,
Brustwerk and pedal, and in 1691/92 an Oberwerk
was added. With three manuals and pedal and 46 registers it
is the largest organ in East Frisia. As one would expect it
was adapted to contemporary taste in the 19th century. In the
1980s the organ builder Jürgen Ahrend restored the instrument
to its former state. Although the meantone temperament which
was in general use in the 17th century has been restored, certain
'compromises' have been made, to make sure later organ music,
in particular by Bach, could be played without too much trouble.
This disc is the third which the two organists of this church,
Agnes Luchterhandt and Thiemo Janssen, have devoted to their
instrument. The first disc was reviewed here,
the second has not been reviewed as yet. Obviously music by
17th-century composers from northern Europe fares best on this
organ. The choice of pieces by Mozart is quite surprising.
The programme opens with an anonymous piece from the so-called
Susanne van Soldt manuscript. It seems almost certain
that Susanne van Soldt was the daughter of a wealthy Protestant
merchant from Antwerp, who fled to London after the siege of
the city by the Spanish in 1585. As Susanne put her name and
the year 1599 on the fly leaf of the manuscript, one may conclude
that it contained material for her keyboard lessons. This particular
piece is a dance which is played here by the two organists with
additional percussion. The argument is historically interesting.
"An unused drawstop possibly indicates that Schnitger originally
included a drum in the Norden organ, activated by pressing the
pedals for low C and D on the Principal 16' at the same time.
Since it is not available (any longer), a percussion group provides
verve and festive atmosphere on our third Norden organ CD",
the liner-notes state.
Veni Creator Spiritus is from the collection Tabulatura
Nova of 1624 by Samuel Scheidt. He was a pupil of Sweelinck
in Amsterdam and his keyboard music shows the master's influence.
This particular work is an alternatim composition. The
odd verses are to be sung; here we hear simple organ settings
of pieces by Gilles Binchois (c1400-1460), Johann Eccard (1553-1611)
and Melchior Vulpius (1570-1615). It is regrettable that the
performers didn’t request the singer to perform a German
version of the Latin chant. In particular the Binchois is a
rather curious choice. That kind of music was certainly no longer
sung in Scheidt's time.
Dieterich Buxtehude is the last great representative of the
North-German organ school. One of its main features is the stylus
phantasticus which originated from Italy. The Prelude
in d minor reflects this style. It is in five sections:
the first, third and fifth have an improvisatory character;
the second and fourth are fugues. At that time there were mostly
no formal divisions within a piece in free style, like a prelude,
fantasia or toccata, and a fugue. That is a later development
which we meet in the oeuvre of Johann Sebastian Bach. The Toccata,
adagio and fugue in C is one of his most famous pieces,
which clearly finds its roots in the North-German organ school.
That is particularly the case with the toccata which includes
rapid scales and a virtuosic pedal solo. The adagio is in the
style of a concerto movement, with the upper part as a kind
of instrumental solo. The piece concludes with a fugue on a
vivid and capricious subject.
Another work which bears witness to Bach being influenced by
the North-German organ school is the chorale fantasia Wo
Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält, which was discovered
in 2008 and was part of a collection of compositions once owned
by Wilhelm Rust, Thomaskantor in Leipzig from 1880 to
1892. The (ornamented) cantus firmus, a chorale on a
text by Justus Jonas (1524) and published with an anonymous
melody in 1529, is in the upper part. It is frequently quoted
in the other voices. The piece includes arpeggios and echo effects.
Bach was not only influenced by Buxtehude, but also by Georg
Böhm, especially in his chorale partitas. Wer nur den
lieben Gott läßt walten is an example of Böhm's
way of varying a chorale melody.
With the Te Deum laudamus we return to Buxtehude; this
is one of his greatest works. It includes various forms of keyboard
music of the time, such as the free style of the prelude or
toccata and two of the main variation forms, the chorale fantasia
and the chorale variation. It opens with a free prelude which
is followed by the first verse beginning with a bicinium in
double counterpoint. During this section the number of voices
is extended to five. The second verse is in the style of the
chorale fantasia and includes echo passages. The third verse
is a trio with the cantus firmus in the tenor. The last
verse has the cantus firmus in the pedal, with anticipatory
imitation (Vorimitation) in the other voices, and the
work closes with a virtuosic coda.
The programme includes two pieces by Mozart which are certainly
the most surprising part of this disc. Obviously the mean-tone
temperament leads to some strange effects. In their liner-notes
the organists argue that this temperament was common in Mozart's
time and was even used well into the 19th century. That may
be true, but it seems improbable that Mozart used this temperament
in his own keyboard works. As a result the Variations on
‘Ah vous dirai-je Maman’ fail to satisfy, although
they are nicely played. The Andante with variations in G
are less problematic. Even so, I would have preferred some additional
pieces from the 17th or early 18th centuries.
The playing is mostly rather good, in particular the 17th-century
works. The organ sounds glorious and its colours are effectively
displayed in the variation works. In some pieces, especially
Buxtehude's Prelude in d minor and Bach's chorale fantasia,
the registration adjustments are too frequent. It is unlikely
that organists in those days were assisted in the registration
of the organ. Therefore such changes within a piece which moves
on without interruption is historically questionable. Bach's
Toccata, adagio and fugue in C is well played, especially
the adagio, but the toccata is a bit too slow; that also goes
for the fugue.
Even so, organ aficionados will love this disc just as much
as the previous volumes.
Johan van Veen