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Breathtaking brevity

Music by Sweelinck
and his pupils -
reviewed by

'... a brilliant performance ...'

The Orpheus of Amsterdam. Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and his Pupils. © 2005 Cala Records Ltd

This package of disc and programme notes might well be called 'Sweelinck for Beginners'. The music is played by Gail Archer, an American organist and musicologist who also wrote the words. Sweelinck was a teenage prodigy within an Amsterdam dynasty and he irreversibly influenced the evolution of music in northern Europe including England. He taught many pupils composition and keyboard performance and himself composed for organ and/or harpsichord. When Sweelinck's students left Amsterdam for their home countries they took with them manuscript copies of the great man's organ works with the result that over seventy pieces survive today.

Organist Gail Archer identifies three strands in Sweelinck's keyboard works; a) toccatas, fantasias, and 'distinctive echo fantasies suitable for harpsichord or organ'; b) idiomatic settings of chorale melodies linked to a prelude, and c) secular songs and dances designed as themes with variations.

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Copyright © 28 August 2005 George Balcombe, London UK


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