Johann Jacob Froberger
was a man of fame in his time, and long
after. His music has been found in many
sources all over Europe, and this recording
is the result of continuous exploration
of Froberger's musical output. This
disc is closely connected to the publication
of a new edition of Froberger's works
which is in progress, and of which Siegbert
Rampe is one of the editors.
This disc consists
of works which have been found fairly
recently, or pieces whose authenticity
could only recently be established.
Froberger was a man
who travelled through many countries
in Europe. He went to Rome to study
with Frescobaldi and Carissimi, and
from there he took Frescobaldi's toccata.
He went to Paris, where he had considerable
influence on the development of the
'prélude non mesuré',
the French adaptation of Frescobaldi's
toccata. On the other hand Froberger
was influenced by the style of the French
lute and keyboard composers, in particular
in regard to the suite.
Froberger also travelled
through the Low Countries, and went
as far as England. The Partita in d
minor (FbWV 618a) does exist only in
two copies by English composers, one
by John Blow, the other by William Croft.
And the Partita in b minor (FbWV 652)
has only recently been found in a Dutch
manuscript by the organist Dirk Luijmes
- another piece of evidence of the wide
circulation of Froberger's works.
It seems Froberger
wasn't always happy with that. In the
liner notes, Siegbert Rampe refers to
the fact that Froberger, while being
the music teacher of Duchess Sybilla
of Württemberg (a post he received
in 1662), made the duchess his sole
heir and stipulated in his will that
she "might pass on to third parties
only such works as he had authorized."
It seems likely that he didn't want
some "early works and experimental pieces
in the main, using the then unusual
keys of F sharp minor and E major -
to fall into 'other people's hands',
because they 'would not understand them
and only spoil the same'". But pupils
must have spread his compositions nevertheless.
A number of them came into the hands
of the South-German organist Johann
Pachelbel, for instance.
There are two interesting
observations by Siegbert Rampe in regard
to the performance practice. The first
is about the temperature which should
be used to play these works. Rampe stresses
the importance of playing them in mean-tone
temperament. Only then the use of unusual
keys as mentioned above, but also b
minor and c minor, makes any sense.
As a result some passages are strongly
dissonant, but that was without any
doubt Froberger's intention.
The second point regards
the different versions of some pieces.
In preparing the complete edition of
Froberger's works it has become quite
clear that there are no such things
as 'definitive' versions. It seems Froberger
reworked his own compositions every
time he played them. "The changes always
demonstrate improvisatory qualities
and involve not only details like ornamentation
and part-writing, but also the addition
of voices and new cadential or closing
sections." He goes on by drawing a general
conclusion from this fact: keyboard
works "were never performed twice in
exactly the same way, changes were always
made in the course of performance in
order to captivate audiences afresh".
Siegbert Rampe decided
to put this into practice during the
recording of this programme. He added
his own ornaments when appropriate,
and added 'doubles' of his own to several
movements in the style of Froberger's
in other movements.
He also added a prelude
to most Partita's recorded here, which
reflects another habit of the time.
Examples of this practice can be found
in the so-called 'Grimm tablature',
a collection of music which contains
a large number of pieces by Froberger.
The copyist, C. Grimm, finished the
tablature in 1699, and added some preludes
of his own to the Partita's by Froberger.
A number of them are included here,
and Siegbert Rampe has added his to
This looks all very
promising. And indeed, this is a fine
recording. This programme gives an illuminating
picture of the musical world of Froberger.
And all pieces on this disc are excellent.
The three instruments are well-chosen,
and all tuned in mean-tone temperament,
which increases the expression of the
pieces played here.
But I have the feeling
that this recording could have been
even better. I am a little disappointed
about Rampe's playing, at least on the
harpsichord. There is a lack of accents,
partly due to the fact that chords are
often arpeggiated, but also because
the articulation isn't as differentiated
as I would have liked. Important chords
or notes could have got more weight
by shortening the preceding note. There
is also very little breathing space
Strangely enough there
is no lack of accents in the performances
on the clavichord. Rampe exploits the
dynamic possibilities of the instrument
to stress some chords which makes them
much more enthralling.
The organ pieces are
very well executed. And the sound of
the historical organ with its mean-tone
temperament is just irresistible.
Johan van Veen