Pavana Track listing below review
Kathryn Cok (harpsichord)
rec. January 2013, Studio DMP, Zaandam, Netherlands. DDD SFZ MUSIC SFZM0214 [68:25]
It makes much sense to bring Peter Philips and Jan Pieterszoon
Sweelinck together in one programme. They were contemporaries and Sweelinck
was strongly influenced by the English virginalists. They also knew
each others music and may have met in person in 1593. All that said,
there are also strong differences between them.
Peter Philips left his country for religious reasons and stayed in several
parts of Europe until he settled in the southern Netherlands as an organist
and keyboard teacher. He was not of unimpeachable conduct: in 1593 when
he travelled to Amsterdam to meet Sweelinck in person he was arrested
under suspicion of being involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Queen
Sweelinck, on the other hand, worked in Amsterdam and only travelled
to other places in the northern Netherlands to inspect new organs. He
only once left the country when he visited Antwerp in order to purchase
a harpsichord for the city of Amsterdam which was his employer. His
fame largely rests on his activities as a keyboard player and teacher.
He was known for his improvisations on harpsichord and organ, and he
attracted many pupils from Germany. These were all Protestants, but
Sweelinck's own religious affiliation is still not quite clear.
It is possible that he always remained a Catholic at heart, although
he composed variations on psalm tunes from the Huguenot Psalter, and
even set the whole Psalter polyphonically. Whatever his religious convictions
were, he was a highly respected member of Amsterdam society and moved
in the highest circles.
There is a musical connection between Philips and Sweelinck which also
comes to the fore in the present recital. It opens with a Pavan
which was Philips' earliest composition. Sweelinck knew this
piece and extended it with two variations; it is known as Pavana
Philippi. Pavans and galliards were among the most frequently used
forms of keyboard music written by English virginalists, often as a
pair. Two such pairs from Philips' pen are included here: Passamezzo
Pavan and Galliard and the pavan and galliard with the name of
Pagget, referring to Lord Thomas Paget, another Catholic refugee
whom Philips met in Rome in 1585. He entered his service and travelled
with him across Europe for almost five years. They settled in Brussels
in 1589 where Paget died the next year.
Sweelinck was and remains best known for his variations which demonstrate
his improvisational skills. Like all his keyboard works they were never
published but have come down to us in copies made by his numerous pupils.
He often played such pieces in social gatherings of the town elite,
and it is reported that when he started to improvise he found it difficult
to stop. Like the English virginalists he often used popular tunes as
the subject of his variations. In this programme we hear two specimens
of his skills: Onder een linde groen - known in England as
All in a garden greene - and Est-ce Mars - a tune
of French origin - are simple tunes which Sweelinck uses for brilliant
sets of variations. His arrangement of Dowland's Lachrimae
Pavan is another token of his interest in English music of his
time. The programme ends with one of his most famous works, variations
on the German song Mein junges Leben hat ein End, although
its authenticity seems still not to be established.
Philips and Sweelinck are represented here with some of their most characteristic
compositions. They are all pretty well-known which I usually consider
a minus in recordings. I like artists to add something less familiar
to the catalogue. However, in this case I have no problems with the
choice of repertoire because Kathryn Cok delivers superb interpretations.
Such excellent performances are not to be taken for granted. I like
her style of playing: she makes the music breathe and even if she plays
in a fast tempo her interpretation has a strong sense of balance. The
tempi are always well-chosen: none of the pieces drags on, and none
of them is rushed. There are some fine tempo inflections which create
tension and underline the contrasts within the pieces. I am especially
pleased about the ornamentation. Ms Cok adds quite a lot of ornaments
but never exaggerates and because of that not a single piece gives the
impression of being overloaded with embellishments.
In short: this is a superb recital of some of the best keyboard music
of the late renaissance.
Johan van Veen
Peter PHILIPS (1560/61-1628)
Pavan [3:32] Jan Pieterszoon SWEELINCK (1562-1621)
Onder een linde groen (SwWV 325) [5:27]
More Palatino (Almande Gratie) (SwWV 318) [4:07] Peter PHILIPS
Pavan Pagget [6:10]
Galliard Pagget [2:30] Jan Pieterszoon SWEELINCK
Engelse Fortuin (SwWV 320) [3:18]
Pavana Philippi (SwWV 329) [6:56]
Pavana Lachrymae (SwWV 328) [4:51] Peter PHILIPS
Passamezzo Pavan [8:40]
Passamezzo Galliard [5:02] Jan Pieterszoon SWEELINCK Est-ce Mars (SwWV 321) [4:51] Mein junges Leben hat ein End (SwWV 324) [6:49]