Georg MUFFAT (1653-1704)
Organ Works, Volume 1:
Apparatus musico-organistus (1690), Part 1 - Toccatas
Naxos 8.553917 [DDD]
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Muffat's collection of 'long toccatas' (to use the composer's own description)
combine quasi-improvisatory sections with stricter polyphony in a musical
style which amalgamates influences from Germany, France and Italy. They represent
one of the major such collections produced by the Hapsburg Empire (others
worthy of mention are the Libri by Froberger and Kerll). The eight
Toccatas on this disc are fairly substantial works (two last over nine minutes)
and they use a wide variety of textures and moods to maintain interest. Naxos'
recording aids and abets matters by being impressively clean and precise.
The disc was recorded on the organ at Klosterneuburg Abbey.
This disc remains, however, a disc to be sampled rather than heard in one
sitting. Certainly there is a heady mix of Italianate emotionalism, French
sensibilité and German discipline that is most appealing. When
Muffat experiments with textures he is at his most interesting, as at the
opening of the fourth Toccata. In the sixth, seemingly endless trills over
a pedal bass reveal a lively mind at work, and in the eighth, some high,
sweet textures are a real delight.
Haselböck is as committed and sensitive an advocate as any to this obviously
deserving cause (the Muffat discography is a small one), and the recording
captures the various tone-colours well.