John Collins - Organist, Harpsichordist Iberian Musicologist, Translator

Froberger: Keyboard and organ and works from copied sources V.2

Title:Froberger: Keyboard and organ and works from copied sources V.2

Editor: Siegbert Rampe .

Publisher: Bärenreiter BA9212. £41.50.

Reviewed by John Collins

Volume V of Johann-Jakob Frobergerís keyboard works contains works from copied, ie MSS, sources and is subdivided into two, of which part 1 contained Toccatas, and part 2, the final volume in this new edition of Frobergerís keyboard compositions, (which amounts to 10 volumes; regrettably at the time of writing there is still no news that the autograph MS sold at Sothebyís will be made available for a modern edition) presents his polyphonic works; a further volume will make available his vocal works. The main section of this volume contains some 21 works determined by the editor to be of certain authenticity, of which three full-length pieces are published here for the first time, ten are variants, mainly stand-alone sections of a longer work, which contain varying degrees of reworking, of which three appear here for the first time, and finally eight were included in Howard Schottís edition for Heugel. Additionally a two-voice Fantasia, deemed to be inauthentic, is included for the sake of completion as are two further extracts from the Capriccio in F, considered to be spurious arrangements. Some 23 sources have been consulted, enabling new readings of eleven pieces from the autograph volumes covering some 14 pages, and a few corrections required to volume one, to be included in this volume. The severe style of the Fugas/Ricercars contrasts well with the lighter air of the Capricci.

The three pieces published here for the first time include the Fuga in F, FbWV415, 161 bars and the Fuga in d FbWV416 with 132 bars, its subject being the chromatic fourth. Both feature longer note values, with 414 including quavers, and are in C time throughout. The other piece now available for the first time is the Capriccio in E FbWV519, a multi-sectional work (there are four sections in C, C, 3/2 and 12/8) of 129 bars. A variant of this piece is a somewhat truncated version of the final section.

The pieces previously published in Scottís edition are the Fantasia in G FbWV 207, here including the heavy ornamentation and the fingering from the Duben MS, the Fuga in C FbWB413, with the variant in halved note values from the New Haven MS included here for the first time, the Fuga in d FbWV414 (these two Fugas being entitled Ricercar by Schott), all reflecting a more severe approach, with the lighter style including notevalues down to demisemiquavers, and the Capriccios in G FbWV509, in D FbWV510, in F FbWV512, in E FbWV513 with its subject opening with repeated quavers, and in C FbWV518 all representing the generally less rigidly contrapuntal approach. These are fine multi-sectional works, which make considerable demands on the player.

Of the nine pieces which are basically extracts from longer works, four of them are included amongst the set of 56 versets attributed to Wolfgang Ebner, Frobergerís colleague in Vienna, (FbWV502a, 504a, 509a and 519a), FbWV512a was possibly prepared by Pachelbel and appears here for first time, FbWV509b and 510a were included in this short form in the Mainz print of 1695 (itself a re-issue of the print of 1693), FbWV307 is largely identical to the closing section of the Toccata FbWV119 but has been given a separate number in the catalogue because of the difference in the ending, FbWV505a is a half-note value version of the Capriccio in g FbWV505, here available for the first time.

Variant readings are incorporated into the musical text, in almost all cases without overloading it, although the ending to the Capriccio in FbWV509 needs some visual gymnastics; they are worthy of careful study since they reflect the many possibilities of rhythmic and pitch differences, including application (or not) of accidentals which may have featured in a contemporary performance. The introduction to this volume (in German and English) provides detailed information on only the new sources that have been consulted for the volume at hand, thus necessitating the purchase of earlier volumes for the player who wishes to have the fullest information possible on every source used. There is a detailed description of most of the pieces included in this volume and also a full critical commentary on each piece, which gives source details and variant readings, but this is in German only. Several pages of facsimiles are included. The introductory section on scope and outline of the new edition originally published in volume V.1 has not been included here.

One feature of the MS copy of the toccatas and contrapuntal works made by Gottlieb Muffat that has a most important bearing on performance practice is the addition of elaborate ornamentation. Muffatís own comprehensive table of performance of these ornaments is included in each volume, but a discussion of the transition from the main note start for the trill to the upper note start required by Muffat (and, of course, his contemporaries), is most regrettably not discussed in the preface. His table of ornaments is reproduced only in part 1.

Volume V.2 contains 70 pages in the music section, with a further five pages of doubtful and spurious arrangements, but the quality of the ten substantial pieces plus the short fuga within its covers is uniformly high. Those players who already have the Heugel edition will need to consider paying out for just three previously unpublished pieces, and also many players may feel little inclination to have all the variants, both in the form of textual additions, and also as the stand-alone works. However, for the professional recitalist and teacher as well as for the keenly interested non-professional, comparison of variants will offer invaluable information about how Frobergerís contemporaries, and players of succeeding generations, may have performed his pieces.

It is very much to be wished that these pieces take their place in concerts as well as in church services of all traditions. Not at all easy to play stylishly, a thorough knowledge of performance practice is an essential and indispensable pre-requisite to an informed rendition of these pieces, but the pleasure obtained by both performer and listener will repay the time spent in learning them many times over and will in its own way justify and repay the editor and publishers for having taken on this essential and monumental task and restore Froberger to his rightful position as one of the most innovative and influential keyboard composers of all time.

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© John Collins 2015