Cantilena Anglica Fortunae
Heinrich SCHEIDEMANN (c. 1595 -1663)
Samuel SCHEIDT (1587-1654)
Selected Harpsichord Works
Yoann Moulin (harpsichord)
rec. Centeilles, église Notre-Dame, Siran, Hérault, France, 2018.
RICERCAR RIC394 [55:35]
The thing that both Heinrich Scheidemann and Samuel Scheidt have in common is that they were both students of the great Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and were therefore early German exponents of the ‘new style’ of keyboard composition, acting as conduits between the great man and those who were to follow, including Dieterich Buxtehude and Johann Sebastian Bach.
Heinrich Scheidemann was born Wöhrden in Schleswig-Holstein, where his father was organist and probably his first music teacher. In Amsterdam he studied with Sweelinck from 1611 to 1614, with his master going as far as to dedicate one of his own Canons to his pupil. Here I must say that this was until now, the extent of my knowledge of the composer, I knew through my reading on the Dutch master that he was one of his pupils, but as to his music, this is my first introduction and I must say that I am impressed. He is held to be one of the most important composers and organists of his generation in northern Germany and became the organist of the Catharinenkirche in Hamburg, a position he would hold until his death from the plague over thirty years later. His music certainly shows Sweelinck’s influence, especially in the quicker pieces, such as the ‘Gagliarda in D’ and the ‘Praeambulum in D’ which also shows a degree of originality in the way the opening section undulates and gradually develops into the piece’s main theme. This originality shines forth in other works such as the ‘Fuga in D minor’, with its slow stately pace drawing out the fugal structure of the piece, something which really shines in his ‘Pavana Lachrymae’.
Of the two composers, Samuel Scheidt is probably the better known. Born in Halle, by the age of seventeen he was the organist at the Moritzkirche, where he stayed until he left to study with Sweelinck in Amsterdam from 1607 to 1608, after which he returned to his home town where he was to spend most of his life; he was later to edit the German edition of Sweelinck’s works in the city. You soon appreciate who is the finer composer of the two, with Scheidt coming out on top; it is not a coincidence that the piece that gives this disc its title is by Scheidt. You cannot compare the first two tracks as Scheidemann’s slow and stately ‘G minor Praeambulum’, with its plucked strings sounding somewhat like a lute at times, cannot compete with the exuberance of Scheidt’s allemande ‘Also geht’s, also steht’s’. A much better comparison would be his ‘In dich hab ich gehoffett’, with its slower pace and lighter feel, but here there is no feel of it being played on a lute, this is clearly a keyboard work and the greater creativity shines through. The following ‘Courante’ is lovely, its mix of stateliness and gaiety being just right. The title piece, ‘Cantilena Anglica Fortunae’, with its wonderful set of variations on the English lute song ‘Fortune my Foe’, the best known version of which is by John Dowland, deserves its place on the cover of this disc, it shows a composer happy to work with a simple tune and weave around it complex and imaginative variants.
Whilst the musicianship of Samuel Scheidt shines forth here, Heinrich Scheidemann has an important role on this disc and in the history and development of German music especially for the keyboard; without both of these composers the face of German music might have been totally different. We know that Sweelinck was an influence, especially on J S Bach, and it was through the likes of Scheidt and Scheidemann, who learned at the great man’s knee, that this influence was first felt. This is touched upon in the excellent booklet essay by Jérôme Lejeune as he clearly identifies their position in the history of music, whilst also discussing their music and each of the pieces performed here. The booklet also includes a short postscript by Yoann Moulin in which he discusses the idea behind the recording of these works. Yoann Moulin plays a modern copy of a Rückers instrument from 1615, towards the end of Sweelinck’s life and contemporary to the composition of these pieces. His playing is excellent throughout, his use of the instrument to get the best from this music is exemplary. From the pieces that display the lute-like character of the instrument to those which show it as an instrument for the keyboard virtuoso, his touch is perfect, as he colours each of the pieces well. This is an interesting and historically important issue as well as a very enjoyable and welcome addition to my collection.
1 Praeambulum in G minor (WV41) [3:49]
2 Also geht’s, also steht’s [7:02]
3 Pavana Lachrymae in D minor [7:08]
4 Gagliarda in D [3:52]
5 Praeludium in D minor, WV36 [2:26]
6 In dich hab ich gehoffett, SSWV208 [5:11]
7 Courante [2:09]
8 Cantilena Anglica Fortunae [5:44]
9 Fuga in D minor [2:16]
10 Praeambulum in D, WV 34 [3:05]
11 O Gott, wir danken deiner güt [1:43]
12 Praeambulum in E minor, WV 37[1:32]
13 Fantasia super lo son ferito lasso [9:36]