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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger

Jan Pieterszoon SWEELINCK (1562-1621)
Toccata T 14 [2'11]; Fantasia Chromatica [7'19]; Toccata T 16 [2'32]; Puer Nobis nascitur [2'29]; Paduana Lachrimae collorirt [5'44]; Mein junges Leben hat ein Endt [5'12]; Toccata T 11 [3'27]; Die flichtig Nimphae [1'49]; Unter der linden grune [4'14]; Malle Sijmen [1'19]; Balleth del granduca [3'35]; Pavan Philippi [8'49]; Toccata T 13 [3'35]; Echo [4'55]; Psalm 36 [8'24]; Phantasia a 4 [12'23]
Siegbert Rampe, organs, clavichords, harpsichord, virginal 
Rec: St Andreaskirche, Soest-Ostonnen, April 5-6 2004, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg, April 28-29, 2004, St Stephanskirche, Tangermünde, August 31, 2004 DDD
DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 341 1256-2 [79'01]


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Siegbert Rampe is a well-known musicologist, editor and performer now living in Cologne. Here he plays a nice cross-section of Sweelinck's keyboard works on a fascinating set of instruments.

The organ at Soest-Ostonnen was originally built by an anonymous maker in around 1425, making it the oldest playable organ in the world, (and you thought that was in Sion!). Later altered by Bartholdus in 1586, Johann Patroclus Moller in 1721-2, Berhard Dreymann in 1820, and finally restored by Rowan West in 2003, it nevertheless contains 5 complete stops from 1586 or earlier, 4 of which from 1425. The remaining three stops all contain 15th or 16th century pipework. This is a remarkable survival, which as yet has drawn little international attention.

Also of interest, of course is the great Scherer organ of 1623-4 in Tangermünde. This is the largest surviving Hamburg school organ of the pre-Schnitger generations. The astonishingly vocal sound is the result of the extremely high lead-content pipework throughout the organ. The stunning plenum sound, so mild, yet so complex is quite unique, - but is the OberPositiff Zimbel really supposed to be used in the plenum? Listen also to the OberPositiff Zinck registration accompanied alone by the 16th Principal of the Hauptwerk, astonishing!

Among the stringed instruments, the Virginal deserves special mention as it is the only surviving instrument made by the carilloneur of the Oude Kerk during the time of Sweelinck. Artus Gheerdinck was also responsible for tuning the organs. The 2 clavichords are both copies, one of an Italian 4' instrument of around 1540, the other of a Southern German clavichord of around 1670. The harpsichord is the only preserved playable example of Ruckers in its original state.

For me, Rampe's playing is rather too fast and funky. He is clearly a disciple of Ton Koopman, with whom he studied in Amsterdam. Why does everything have to be so heavily ornamented, and the touch so active? For me this music, especially the fantasias, is far more monumental than Rampe would have us believe, the Fantasia Chromatica is here especially hectic. I find also the approach to the big Fantasias making crescendos from the Principals to the plenum to be rather 'old hat'. The organs are quite beautiful enough to play the whole work without having to change registration. In general I find Rampe's overall approach suits the stringed instruments better than the organs, his clavichord playing is especially beautiful. The clavichords themselves are refreshingly recorded, as if to reflect their extreme intimacy, without the microphone being placed too close to the soundboard. Thus the contrast between the huge plenum of Tangermünde, and the sound of the clavichord is well reflected.

The playing isn't my favourite then, but the instruments ensure that this is worth hearing.

Chris Bragg




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