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John BULL (c.1562-1628)
Organ and Keyboard Works

Præludium in a [0.41]
Walsingham in a [15.16]
Christe Redemptor in a [4.13]
Præludium in C [1.20]
My Juell in C [1.56]
Pavana of my L[ord] Lumley [6.10]
and Galliarda to my L[ord] Lumley’s [1.48]
In Nomine in d [1.45]
Præludium in G [2.08]
St. Thomas Wake in C [3.02]
My Griefe in G [1.30]
The Duke of Brunswicks Alman in a [1.56]
Fantasia in d [4.22]
Dr. Bulles Pavin chromatik [6.19]
and Galliard in d [2.44]
[Fantasia on] Ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la in G [5.06]
A Gigge. Doctor Bulls my selfe in G [0.49]
The Duchesse of Brunswicks Toye in a [0.45]
Fantasia op de fuge van m[agister] Jan Pieterss[on Sweelinck] (15 XII 1621) in a [3.34]
God save the Kinge in C [5.08]
Een Kindeken is ons geboren [4.09]
In Nomine [5.36]
Siegbert Rampe (harpsichord by Andreas Ruckers, 1637; virginal by Artus Gheerdinck, 1605)
Tuned by Georg Ott.
rec. Germanisches National Museum, Nuremberg, Germany, 29 April 2004. clavichord by Jörg Gobeli, 2000, copy of South German instrument 1670. rec. 2004. organ at St. Stephanskirche, Tagermünde, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany. Tuned by Dietrich Kollmannsperger. rec. 30 August 2004. organ at St. Andreaskirche Soest-Ostönnen, Germany. rec. 6 April 2004. All with unequal temperament at various pitches.
Notes in English, Français, Deutsch.
Photos of artist and instruments, picture of composer, organ specifications.
MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG GOLD 341 1258-2 [81.10]


Comparison recommended recordings for harpsichord:
George Malcolm, In Nomines, Fantasia in d. Electrola LP
Anthony Newman, Walsingham CBS LP

John Bull was, in a sense, the Prokofiev of the Elizabethan era. Like Prokofiev his beauty lay in hardness, wit, even sarcasm. But how do we reconcile this with the story that he left England forever one step ahead of the sheriff for getting caught with his hand up the wrong skirt? Like Prokofiev he left his native land, unlike Prokofiev he never returned. And how do we reconcile his exile with the likelihood that he is the man who wrote God Save the Queen? Over Morley, Byrd, Farnaby, Tallis, Peerson, we laugh, we weep and we love. But by Bull we are startled, amazed, even annoyed. Yet he wrote the most genially pompous of self satires. He is a bad boy and he does not repent. Yet he is the ultimate patriot, whose name became the very symbol of the land he could not keep.

Walsingham is the very first piece in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book; it was this music that convinced Francis Tregian that he would be better to start writing down his favorite pieces. Anthony Newman takes it at his usual supersonic speed, relatively easy on a harpsichord. Siegbert Rampe displays his steel fingers by playing on a tracker organ a piece which is difficult enough for ordinary mortals on the harpsichord. George Malcolm and I think his tempo on the great In Nomine in d is too fast, yet it is interesting to hear it run through like this. At least when Rampe plays fast he still plays with passion. Even though his harpsichord technique is very French, he never loses touch with the backbone of the music. The tone of his instruments is always sensual.

George Malcolm’s harpsichord performances of the Fantasia in d and the great In Nomine are among the great recorded keyboard performances of the twentieth century. Rampe tries a whole different approach on the organ and does very well with it. Rampe’s clavichord technique, however excellent, is unfortunately marred by his pianoforte studies. Someone should tell him you cannot bang on a clavichord, and you don’t set speed records on a clavichord. A clavichord must be approached more as a koto would be approached. A clavichord must be caressed like a lover and teased, tickled, and coaxed into singing. And the resources of bebung open a limitless universe of expression, whereas neither Rampe nor the amazing Derek Adlam take so much as a single step into that universe. Gentlemen, be more humble in the presence of the clavichord. You have not mastered it, you are still beginners, still apprentices. True, no one since the death of Bach has climbed so high as you, but you have a long way to go before you reach the summit.

Also I question the tendency to describe these pieces as being in, for example, C major or D minor when their composers and their intended audience may have more likely considered them to be in the various modes. Perhaps the mode numbers should be used instead, or at least footnoted. This may not mean anything to prospective listeners, but it makes a great difference to one who would perform the music.

Paul Shoemaker

 



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