> Froberger organ works 74321853222 [ChA]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Johann Jacob FROBERGER (1616-1667): Organ Works
1.Toccata in A Minor FbWV 112, 2. Capriccio in D Minor FbWV 503, 3. Ricercar in D Minor FbWV 407a, 4. Toccata da Sonarsi alla Levatione in G Minor FbWV 106, 5. Capriccio in A Minor FbWV 502, 6. Fantasia Sopra UT RE MI FA SOLLA FbWV 201, 7. Toccata in G Major FbWV 107, 8. Capriccio in G Major FbWV 507, 9. Toccata in C Major FbWV 109, 10. Capriccio in G Minor FbWV 508, 11. Ricercar in G Minor FbWV 405, 12. Toccata in F MajorFbWV 110.
Joseph Kelemen, Organist.
Monastery Church of Klostenkirche, Mainingen im Ries, Germany
Recorded: September 2000 at the Monastery Church of Klostenkirche in Mainingen im Ries, Germany.
Organ by: Johann Martin Baumeister (1734-1737)-Restored by Steinmeyer Company, Oettingen (1988-1990).
ARTE NOVA Musikproductions GmbH 74321 85322 2 [64.47] Superbudget

Johann Jacob Froberger was the outstanding German composer of keyboard music of his generation. His works, with strict contrapuntal design, expressive melodic writing and vivid rhythmic patterns, served as an inspiration for such composers as D. Buxtehude and J.S.Bach. His cosmopolitan life – from Stuttgart to Vienna, from Rome to Brussels, from Paris to London- certainly influenced his works, which form part of the characteristic 17th century, Italian and French keyboard genres. His studentship with Frescobaldi in Rome was a landmark in his career as a composer. Although he is well known nowadays for his 30 harpsichord suites (French influenced), there are numerous other works either for organ or harpsichord, which are Italianate.

This recording aims to present the ‘Italian’ Froberger and according to Kelemen’s accompanying notes, it ‘takes its inspiration from the fruits of his four years study in Rome…However, the works recorded here also show clearly the influence of Froberger’s South German homeland; the combination of Italy and Germany made his music into a wonderful blend of elegance and profundity’.

The booklet of the CD provides information on Froberger’s life and works and also on the history, disposition and registration of the Baumeister organ. Kelemen notices that the recorded pieces ‘…are taken from three collections, published in Vienna during Froberger’s lifetime’; whereas the only published work of Froberger, during his lifetime, was the Fantasia 1, Sopra UT RE MI FA SO LA. Actually during his lifetime, almost half of his works were contained in three autograph manuscripts and only in the 1690s did publications of his music make their appearance.

The chosen organ for this recording has a unique history. It was built between 1734-1737 by Baumeister but when the church was sold to the aristocratic family of Prince Oettingen-Wallerstein in 1802, as the booklet inform us, the organ was marked with a seal. It was not until two centuries later that the organ was restored by the Steinmeyer company from Oettingen and sounded again in all its past glory. It has a mean tone temperament, which gives clarity to the keys of C, F and G major. It has also no reed stops, but its plenum (full organ) gives a deep, bright sound thanks to the high mixtures. There is no 4’flute stop in the manuals, but the Cythara 8’ when combined with the Flauten 8’ gives a similar to the Italian ‘voce humana’ trembling sound.

Kelemen’s playing is clear and balanced most of the time. Sometimes though, in the toccatas, the adding of too many trills, especially at the last chord, spoils the feeling of arrival and ending . He also occasionally breaks the phrases too suddenly and the result is a sense of gap in the music. The chosen registrations are quite exploratory, but the frequent changes in the toccatas is not an approach that I would recommend, as this spoils their thematic unity. On the other hand, the capriccios are lively and sparkly but they also lack a rhythmic unity between the different tempi of the sections. The so-called ‘Hexachord Fantasia’ (UT RE MI FA SOL LA) and the ricercares, which have a very firm design, are played with a very nice articulation that reveals this design. The Toccata alla Levatione - written for liturgical use- is the highlight of this recording for its analogous dignity and calmness. The recording certainly deserves a warm welcome.


Christina Antoniadou


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