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Since the music around 1600 owed its existence to counterpoint, quite appropriately, the recording technique of this disc is to make the composers' contrapuntal ingenuity loud and clear. But this has been done at the expense of an aural sensation of three-dimensional space. Reverberation is doubtless the enemy of contrapuntal clarity. An organ is not only the instrument itself but also the acoustics of the architecture around it.

Surely Sweelinck and his pupils, who went from him to play fine organs in beautiful churches across the whole of northern Germany and beyond, during the metamorphosis of Renaissance music into the Baroque, would have been among the first to agree that the magnificence of the organ derives from its own sound heard in the context of the built space around it. Deprived of that space the music sounds sparse. However, Gail Archer, with this method of recording, is consistent in the emphasis on the counterpoint. She gives a brilliant performance culminating in the astounding outburst at the end of the recital with Sweelinck's Ricecar [listen -- track 20, 10:30-11:33].

Copyright © 28 August 2005 George Balcombe, London UK


The Orpheus of Amsterdam - Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and his Pupils

CACD88043 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 50'36" 2005 Cala Records Ltd

Gail Archer, organ (Charles B Fisk Organ at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, USA)

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621): Toccata in C; Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654): Echo ad manuale duplex, forte & lene; Heinrich Scheidemann (c1595-1663): Magnificat VII toni; Sweelinck: Malle Sijmen; Scheidt: Est-ce Mars; Sweelinck: Ricercar


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