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Heinrich SCHEIDEMANN (c1595-1663)
Magnificat IV Toni: Primus Versus [1'51], Secundus Versus [3'45], Tertius Versus [3'46], Quartus Versus [1'49]
Angelus ad pastores ait (after Lassus) [6'15]
Kyrie domincale: Primus versus [0'58], Secundus versus [1'43], Tertius versus [1'11]
Fuga in D minor [1'40]
Confitemini Domino primo (after Lassus): Prima pars [5'12], Seconda pars [5'36]
Preambulum in G major [6'33]
Vater Unser in Himmelreich II [7'44]
Omnia quae fecisti (after Lassus) [8'52]
Magnificat VIII toni (second version) [10'35]
Julia Brown, organ
Rec. Central Lutheran Church, Eugene, Oregon, USA, 18-19 March 2002. DDD
NAXOS 8.557054 [68'42]

 

A Brazilian playing Scheidemann? Strange but true, and few do it better than Rio-born former student of Wolfgang Rubsam, Julia Brown. As with her earlier offerings in this series, this volume is characterised by an extremely mature and musical feel for the style, for different affekts, rhetoric and a beautiful applicatur. Everything in her playing is geared to the music. Her sensitivity to what Mattheson described as the 'sweetness' of Scheidemann's music, together with the over-riding Hanseatic monumentality, is profoundly served.

The organ is a still iconic early creation of John Brombaugh, very much in the developing American style of the time (pioneered by Brombaugh and Charles Fisk), which borrowed heavily from North German and Dutch models of the late 17th century. It sounds utterly beguiling on this recording. Perhaps one could wish for 1/4 comma mean-tone in the context of this music these days, rather than the less extreme Kellner 'Bach',. However the quality of the reeds, flutes and prestants of this instrument is so high that one doesn't notice. It is probably true to say that in 1976 only Jurgen Ahrend could have built an organ as beautiful, and even today you could count the builders on the fingers of one hand. Alas only one of Brombaugh's organs, the small mean-tone instrument in Haga church, Goteborg has come to Europe. You can hear it on volume 2 of this series, played by Karin Nelson.

I have to take issue with one or two of Brown's registrations, for example use of the Sesquialtera without the 2', (very dated), use of the cornet, (a stop uncommon on North German organs of the time), and her over-fussy changes in the Praeambulum in G. This aversion to staying on one registration for any length of time in free works badly dogs her much less successful Buxtehude recording on the same organ. I could also complain about her use of the 8' Prestant as a solo stop in Vater Unser. There is no historical basis for it, but it sounds marvelous, and I'm totally convinced.

Given the Naxos price policy there is no excuse not to collect these Scheidemann recordings, wonderful music, in this instance compellingly played.

Chris Bragg


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