Organ music from late renaissance and early baroque.
Ricercar (from Italian ricercare = search) is an instrumental composition from the time of the late Renaissance and early baroque. The task of Ricercar was to select various variants and derivative forms of a theme by means of improvisation and imitation. Ricercar was a precursor from which more complex forms developed. Ricercar, and some research, is also an important theme of this CD. Ricercar offered itself as an ideal unified idea in the search for a name, which somehow unified the program of this CD, based on the period of creation of most works as well as their musical forms. But not only that. Just as a composer seeks, tries, improvises, until finally he finds a definite "solution", we are also always searching in life. A philosopher searches for the meaning of life, a believer for God, a physician for the right diagnosis, a traveler for the destination of his journey ... and the way towards this can be straight, winding and long, until ultimately the joy comes from the search for the meaning of life, the right diagnosis and the destination of the journey. Please allow me a few notes with which I would like to accompany you on the way to the development of this CD ...as well as listening to it.
In the heart of Vienna, on the lively Kärntnerstraße, there is the almost unimpressive Maltese Church. While I was studying in Vienna, I often went to visit this Church to find peace and God`s presence, and to fill me up with some peace of mind. One day in 2004, an advertisement appeared at our school (University of Music and the Performing Arts), that an organist was asked to accompany the liturgy in the Maltese Church. On the same day, I called the telephone number, and so I met Father Christoph Martin. Since then, I played the organ in the Maltese Church regularly every Sunday at Vespers as well as Holy Masses and other events until my illness in 2007. Father Martin was also the Pastor of the church at the Mailberg castle, which also belongs to the Order of Malta. In 2008 the organ there was restored, built by the famous organ builders Silberbauer in 1793. He suggested to me to come to Mailberg one day to play the organ. When finally my health allowed me to travel, I discovered the splendid historical instrument in a wonderful environment in Mailberg. Under the influence of my professor Roman Summereder, I discovered at that time, the beauty of the historic South German organ. So, I asked Father Martin, if we can make a recording in Mailberg.
Because of the characteristic structure of the organ (short octave, 12-tone pedal), it was necessary to select appropriate works. For example, the organ works of the genius Johann Sebastian Bach were almost impossible. Fortunately, the South German and Italian old masters, in spite of the "technical" limitations of the instrument, left enormous wealth of very colorful and imaginative organ compositions. Therefore, the first part of the program includes compositions by Italian masters. At the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, new stylistic trends and currents developed in Italy, spreading throughout the whole of Europe and shaping the music of the Baroque. The instrumental music became independent, which began with the intavolation of mainly vocal music, as well as the first attempts at original instrumental compositions (Preambulum, Intonation) for the organ, until finally the new contrapuntal (Ricercar, Canzoni), improvisation (Toccata, Fantasia) and variation-forms (Partita, Ciaconna, Passacaglia) developed.
When I visited Venice with my wife Majka in 2014, we were fortunate enough to attend the Holy Mass in the beautiful St. Mark's Basilica where the works of ancient masters of the Renaissance were sung. It was an incredible experience and I immediately knew I had to integrate the music of these masters into the programme. St. Mark´s Basilica was an important Centre in the 16th and 17th centuries, where among others Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli worked. Andrea Gabrieli worked at St. Mark's Basilica from 1564 until his death as an organist. As a composer, he contributed significantly to the development of the Venetian polychoral style (spatially separate choirs singing in alternation), which arose on the site of this church and from which a later concerto style developed. In addition to Ricercars, his organ compositions include different genres of organ music: Canzonas, Toccatas, Intavolations, Intonations and Organ Masses. Andrea Gabrieli's organ work was given to us thanks to his nephew Giovanni Gabrieli, who recorded it and published it only after his death. Similarly to Andrea, Giovanni studied music during his youth with Orlando di Lasso in Munich. In 1585, he was appointed as organist to San Marco as successor of Claudio Merulo. In addition to his duties as an organist, he composed solemn liturgical music. His most important works are the vocal instrumental collection Sacrae Symphoniae from the year 1597 and the Symphoniae sacrae, which was published posthumously by his pupils (the most important was Heinrich Schütz) in 1615. These symphonies represent the climax of the early baroque concerto principle. Compared to the extensive vocal and instrumental music, the corpus of organ compositions looks rather modest. Also, Canzon detta “la Spiritata" was originally composed for an ensemble consisting of tines or violins and trombones. The nickname "la Spiritata" points to the spirited temperament of canzoni.
The creation of the Gabrielis was followed by Girolamo Frescobaldi, who together with the Dutchman Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck laid the foundations for Baroque organ music. Frescobaldi came from Ferrara, but from 1604 he worked almost continuously until his death as an organist in Rome (among others in St. Peter's Basilica). In 1607, he travelled to Flanders in the service of Cardinal Bentivoglia, where he became familiar with the work of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck. Thousands came to hear Frescobaldi's unique performance and he was a coveted teacher. The focus of his compositions is in the music for keyboard instruments. His work Fiori musicali (Musical Flowers) published in 1635 in Venice is a collection of liturgical organ music for use in Catholic worship. For almost two centuries the collection belonged to basic materials for composition theory and a transcript was also owned by Johann Sebastian Bach. It contains three Masses: Messa della Domenica, Messa delli Apostoli and Messa della Madonna. Each Mass contains short polyphonic works by Gregorian Kyrie, alternated with the singing of the Schola by organists, as well as free forms, which took place instead of the proper songs. Toccata per l'Elevatione represents a special type of toccata that was played during and after the consecration. This is characterized by its slow tempo with ligatures and dissonances and the absence of a virtuosic passages typical of a toccata, which created a mystical atmosphere during the climax of the Mass. Although the organ in Mailberg does not have the register combination of Principal and Voce humana (or Fiffaro) usually used in a toccata per l'elevatione, I decided to integrate it into the programme anyway, because I often played this toccata during and after the consecration of the Holy Masses celebrated by Father Martin, similar to the times of Frescobaldi, which gave an incredibly deep spiritual and mystical atmosphere.
In the summer of 2011 I visited with Majka an organ concert at the historic organ in the tiny mountain village Mon in the Swiss Alps. When I heard the end of Toccata settima by Michelangelo Rossi, I was completely overwhelmed. Rossi was probably a pupil of Frescobaldi, and he was well-known in his time as a renowned violinist and composer of operas and madrigals. His chromaticism was similar to the experimental works of Carlo Gesualdo. Today he is known mainly for his toccatas for keyboard instruments. His toccatas are linked to Frescobaldi and are strongly influenced by him. On the other hand, they contain extensive imitative sections similar to the Ricercar sections in the toccatas of the Venetian Claudio Merulo, as well as harmonious extremes. An example of such an avant-garde is also the highly chromatic conclusion of the Toccata settima, which creates a tremendous tension as if the composer could not find the exit from the devil's circle, until finally he reaches the dominant point and a relaxation takes place in the tonic.
The last representative of the Italian Masters in our program is Domenico Zipoli, who came from the Tuscan Prato. He received musical training among others from Domenico Scarlatti in Naples and later from Bernardo Pasquini in Rome, where he worked as an organist until 1716. In the same year, he entered the religious congregation of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in Seville, Spain. At his own request, he went to South America as a missionary, where he worked in Cordoba (Argentina) until his death. He composed church music and compositions for organ and harpsichord. His most famous work is the collection Sonata d'Intavolatura per Organo e Cimbalo, which he published in Rome in early 1716. From this collection comes the joyous Toccata all'post communio, which was played after Holy Communion as well as Pastorale, which brings a little Christmas spirit into our programme.
With the music of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, who worked as an organist almost all his life in Amsterdam, we are leaving Italy and we are getting to the region of nowadays Netherlands and Germany. Sweelinck also composed vocal music, but the focus of his work consisted of works for keyboard instruments. Sweelinck was a master of variation and since he had many pupils mainly from Germany, his variation technique later influenced the entire German area and reached its climax in Johann Sebastian Bach. Information that Sweelinck visited Venice and was even a student of Giovanni Gabrieli were not confirmed. Surely, he knew the works of Andrea Gabrieli, which were published during his life, because the theme for his Ricercar del nono tono was inspired by Gabrieli´s Ricercar primo tono. With Ricercar, Sweelinck deliberately chose an unusual name for him, where he wanted to point out to the Italian tradition. In reality, it is a Fantasia in which, based on a theme, he showed his mastery of variation composition technique.
One of the pupils of Sweelinck was Samuel Scheidt. Except for about three years spent in Amsterdam during his studies, he spent his whole life in Halle. His collection Tabulatura Nova from 1624 contains fantasies, fugues, echoes, song variations, arrangements of Latin and German chorales and other liturgical works. His Echo ad manual duplex clearly reflects the school and compositional style of his teacher Sweelinck.
With works by Christian Erbach we return to Italian roots. Nothing is known about his youth and studies. Since 1596, however, he has worked as a composer and organist in Augsburg. Here he was initially an organist with the Fugger family and from 1625 until his death he was an organist in Augsburg Cathedral. Erbach composed vocal works and works for organ inspired by the Venetian masters especially Andrea Gabrieli. However, Erbach used several contrasting themes in his ricercars.
Johann Kaspar Kerll was born in Adorf as the son of an organist and organ builder. He studied music with Giovanni Valentini in Vienna and Giacomo Carissimi and probably Frescobaldi in Rome. In the years 1656 - 1674 he was head of the Hofkapelle in Munich. Since 1674 he worked at the Imperial Court in Vienna and probably also as an organist in St. Stephen's Cathedral. Shortly before his death he returned to Munich. He was recognized as an excellent composer during his lifetime. In addition to his works for keyboard instruments, he composed sacred vocal works and operas. Capriccio sopra il Cucu is based on imitation of the cuckoo call and the motif sounds in its Capriccio more than 200 times. Passacaglia represents an ostinato composition. Kerll's Passacaglia consists of 40 variations on the well-known Tetrachord d-c-B-A.
At the end of our musical journey the Toccata secunda by Georg Muffat appears. Although Muffat is considered a southern German composer, his music represents a synthesis of German, French and Italian styles and forms of the late 17th century. Muffat was born in Savoy, in the intersection of France, Germany and Italy. His father was of Scottish descent and his mother was French. Muffat studied in Paris with Jean Baptist Lully and later in Rome with Bernardo Pasquini and Arcangelo Corelli. His musical career led him through Alsace, Vienna, Prague, Salzburg to Passau, where he worked until his death. Muffat mainly composed suites for orchestra and music for keyboard instruments. The latter was published in 1690 in the collection Apparatus musico organisticus.
At the end, I would like to thank God first for the grace that this CD could be created at all. I would also like to thank the following : my family and friends for their support and prayers, Father Christoph Martin, Sister Louise, Kamil Irbis and all who contributed to the creation of this CD. A special word of thanks to Peter Lobotka, who worked with me and put a lot of effort into the recording, but especially for the final processing of the record. Finally, I would like to thank my wife Majka, to whom I would like to dedicate this CD.
Andrej Harinek was born in 1981 in Bánovce nad Bebravou, Slovakia. He graduated from the St.Ursula´s Gymnasium in Bratislava and Medical Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava in general medicine. His first organ teachers were M. Gazdikova and S. Šurin. He studied church music at Diocesan Conservatory for Church Music in Vienna, organ with W. Zessar and organ music at University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna with G. Mayer and R. Summereder. He took part in courses for organ interpretation and improvisation with J. Guillou, P. Planyavsky, R. Lehrbaumer, M. Böcker, P. D. Peretti. In 1994-2015 he was an organist at the “Triumph of the Cross” Church in Bratislava and in 2004-2007 in the Maltese Church in Vienna. In 2011-2015 he worked as an assistant at the Institut for physiology at Comenius University in Bratislava. Since 2015 he works as the assistant doctor at neurological clinic in Landshut, Germany.