John Collins - Organist, Harpsichordist Iberian Musicologist, Translator

Editions of the keyboard works of Matthias Weckmann: (1616-74) – an overview - Part 2.

Matthias Weckmann: Complete Free Organ and Keyboard Works
Editor: Siegbert Rampe
Published by: Bärenreiter BA8189

This year we commemorate the 400th anniversary of the birth of Matthias Weckmann, one of the generation of North German organists (although he was not born there but in Thuringia) linking the pupils of Sweelinck to Buxtehude. He was a pupil of the notable Sweelinck students Jacob Praetorius and Heinrich Scheidemann, in Hamburg, moved to Dresden and then in 1655 successfully auditioned for the post of organist at the Jacobikirche where he remained until his death 19 years later; his extant compositions for organ comprise nine multi-verse sets of Chorale variations which have been edited by Werner Breig for Bärenreiter as edition BA6211 (A review of this volume was published in The Organ, Feb 2016). Also preserved in MS sources are some 20 non-chorale based pieces, plus one possible attribution and the set of 28 pieces, mainly dances, included in the Hintze MS, some of which are by named composers, but the great majority are anonymous. All of these non-chorale associated pieces have been edited by Siegbert Rampe and published as Complete Free Organ and Keyboard Works by Bärenreiter, edition BA8189. Since they are still little played despite the modern edition having been published some years ago, now would seem to be a good time to remind clavichord players of these pieces. Each of the pieces in this volume is known only from the source in which it has been preserved, seven sources in total having survived, the great majority being held in Lüneburg.

The first 20 free-form pieces comprise a Praeambulum, Fantasia, Fuga, six Toccatas, five Canzonas, six Partitas, ie dance suites. The first three pieces in this volume, a Praeambulum Primi Toni, a Fantasia in D minor and a Fuga ex. D. ped (Aliter) require the pedals, and are therefore not part of the stringed keyboard repertoire, but the next 11 pieces are all for manuals only, although there are many places where the pedals could be used to advantage. The first Toccata in D minor closely resembles Froberger’s style of writing in this genre, with its chordal opening followed by improvisatory passages of scalar runs over chords before a passage in single notes leads abruptly into a section with repeated quaver chords against semiquaver passagework which ends with slow arpeggios and a first inversion tonic seventh before a brief chordal passage closing on the dominant leads into a short coda in semiquavers. The following Toccata vel praeludium 1 Toni opens similarly before a loosely imitative passage marked allegro is resumed in triple time, closing in C time with a sequence of semiquaver figures against held chords. The first Toccata in E minor opens with a chord followed immediately by chords against passagework, a second section with arpeggios against chords opening in the submediant and closing in the tonic major. This is followed by a fugal section, the subject making much use of repeated notes and long written out trills, opening in C time and concluding with a shorter setion in triple time, which dissolves into single-note figures over a held note in the bass, a rest preparing the return to a final cadence. The second Toccata in E minor opens with a bold series of E minor chords with increasingly ascending top notes (up to treble B) over held 1-5-8 chords in bass before arpeggio triplets sweep down the keyboard and after more arpeggiated chords some dramatic writing of arpeggiated semiquavers over held notes, punctuated by augmented chords leads to a section with a dotted rhythm in the left hand against crotchets or quaver chords in the right hand. A brief reversal of this idea merges into a coda with arpeggiated flourishes over a dominant pedal before the concluding chord. The Toccata in A minor is another dramatic piece which, after an opening arpeggiated chord, includes single-note passages, chordal passages with and without inner rhythmic activity, semiquaver passages in each hand together in contrary motion and arpeggiated figures against held chords which lead abruptly to an augmented chord followed by a chordal passage which soon yields to a passage which bristles with sequential figures. The final section returns to the improvisatory feel of the opening with passages against held chords, sometimes built up slowly before a slow chordal conclusion. This highly dramatic piece still surprises today with its bold rhetorical gestures and dissonances. Broadly similar is the final Toccata dal 12 Tuono (ie C), which contains rather more sequential passages in semiquavers, sometimes in two voices, sometimes in three. Noteworthy is the long written-out alto trill against a dotted left hand passage filling the whole of bar 56 and the shorter written out mordent in the treble covering the second half of bar 59. The conclusion is relatively sudden in comparison with the preceding pieces.

The Canzonas offer a combination of contrapuntal writing with toccata-like episodes clearly derived from Frescobaldi’s examples in his second book of Toccatas via Froberger. The first Canzona, in C (headed "Dall istesso Tuono" – in the same key ie as the preceding Toccata may imply a pairing in performance) opens with a figure covering a fifth, with repeated notes and sequences covering a triad, building to four voices before passagework in just two voices leads to a section in triple time with a subject in semiquavers loosely derived from the opening subject, frequently presented against two or three-voice crotchet chords before more two-voice passagework concludes with ascending then descending scales in contrary motion leading to a chordal coda. The second Canzona, in C minor with two flats in key signature, is a far more intense piece with repeated notes in the quaver subject and in the central 12/8 section that also uses the same subject. After this closes in the dominant the final section in C time commences with the opening subject and includes more semiquaver passages against the quavers. A short flourish brings this quite subdued piece to a close. The Canzona in D minor is a far more lively piece with a longer subject in semiquavers covering three bars combining repeated notes and sequences repeated a tone lower in a style which was much copied in the later 17th century; it is also in three sections with a central triple time closing in the tonic before recommencing with quaver passagework which leads into the predominantly two-voice final section. The fourth Canzona, in C, opens with a figure ascending a fourth in a dotted rhythm, this scheme being taken up in the triple time section which leads via a toccata-like passage to the dotted figure in inversion, descending a fifth. After sequential writing the piece concludes with a short coda including arpeggios against held chords. The subject of the final Canzona, in G, moves by thirds and fifths until the concluding written-out slide of a third drops to the leading note in a diminished fifth. A secondary subject of a descending fourth appears and the two combine before a coda of held right hand chords against vigorous left hand demisemiquaver figures. The triple time section has passages in crotchet thirds in the right hand. The final section in C time has a short variant of the opening subject as its theme, before two-voice toccata-like writing beings the piece to a close. The editor suggests that the MS in which the great majority of these pieces (nos. 5-20 of this edition) occur, Lüneburg KN147 written in staff notation and a partial autograph, may well have been written by Weckmann using Froberger’s autographs of 1649 and 1656 as a model, with pieces in the different genres grouped in sixes, in which case some pieces must be assumed lost.

The following six Partitas are all in minor keys. Number one, in D minor (without a key signature), contains an Allemand, Courant, Sarabanda, and Gigue in 12/8, number two in C minor (key signature of two flats, B and E) an Allemanda (sic), Gigue in 6/8, Courant and Saraband, with Le Double, number three in B minor opens with a short Prelude (two sharps, F♯ and C♯) with some exciting dissonances and syncopations followed by an Allemanda, Courante, Saraband and Gigue in C6/4, with notes grouped here as 12/8, (all with key signature of three sharps, F♯, C♯ and G♯) number four in E minor (key signature of one sharp) contains only an Allemand, Gigue and Saraband, number five in A minor (with a key signature of one sharp, F♯) opens with an Allemanda, followed by a Gigue in 6/8 (although printed in 12/8) and closes with a Saraband. The Allemandes move primarily in semiquavers, with some slower movement, with the Allemande in the B minor Partita being the exception moving mainly in quavers. The Courantes all flow in quavers, with dotted rhythms also being prominent. The Sarabandes move mainly in crotchets, with quaver passages, nos. 2 and 4 beginning with upbeats, indeed no. 4 looks closer to a Courant at first glance. There is rhythmic variety, with much use of crotchet-dotted crotchet-quaver patterns, and a greater use of broken chords appears in the D minor piece, while the C minor Sarabande includes a five bar coda after the repeat of the second section with two bars of syncopated writing. The Gigues offer a pleasing variety of writing, predominantly in quavers, within a loosely imitative framework; no. 2 is a restless piece with dotted rhythms in each hand rarely coinciding. The C minor piece is in dotted rhythms throughout and the E minor piece makes much of a quaver-semiquaver-semiquaver-quaver figure in the first section. Textures in each movement are varied with much use of broken chords or Style Brisé. Final chords are most frequently minor, and in no. 3 the F♯ chords at the close of the first section lack the sharp before the third. These highly expressive pieces offer a range of challenges to the player and are well worth the time spent in studying them.

The final Partita in A minor (no key signature) is a set of four variations on the song Die Lieblichen Blicke, printed before the variations in the form of treble and figured bass only. The opening variation in 3/4, printed as 6/4, moves in quavers with just a few passing semiquavers, with texture ranging from single notes to four parts, the second, also in 3/4, introduces semiquaver passages in a varied texture, the third, in 9/8, is mainly in quavers in three voices for most of its course but also with two and four-voice writing, and the closing variation, returning to 3/4, returns to semiquaver passages with a varied texture and some writing in contrary as well as parallel motion. The parallels with Froberger’s Partita no. 6 in G from the 1656 manuscript, FbWV606, which is primarily a set of variations on the song Auf die Mayerin, are quite obvious.

There are two Appendices, of which the first is two variations on Lucidor einss hütt der schaf, which is attributed to M.W. in the source (Lynar A 1). Rampe discusses the Ms and the possible authorship of these variations in considerable detail in the introduction. The second variation in particular contains rhythmic variety and also some virtuosic semiquaver writing in the right hand over longer notes in the left hand.

Appendix II presents the pieces in the Hintze MS (so-called because it once belonged to a certain Fritz Hintze), now accepted as being a Weckmann autograph of ca. 1650 as detailed in the introduction (the title Franzosche Art Instrument Stücklein –Harpsichord pieces in French style – is from Weckmann’s hand); it contains 28 pieces, of which 11 are attributed to composers of either a German or French provenance, with one more, no. 3, plausibly ascribed by Siegbert Rampe. It has been suggested that parts of this Ms have been lost, which seems plausible, given the comments added to no. 5 – see below. The collection opens with an Allemande Plörant and a Courante in E minor by Jonas Tresor (Tresure), with the following Sarabande, also in E minor, attributed to him by the editor. This composer is surmised to have worked in England in the mis 17th century, with several dances ascribed to him being preserved in libraries in France, England, Sweden and United States, although some pieces have also been attributed to La Barre and Gibbons. These attractive pieces are followed by a Toccata in G by Johann Caspar Kerll, which includes many written out trills in demisemiquavers and semiquaversextuplets bas well as other sequential figures in demisemiquavers, a sequential section in semiquavers providing some relief. The next piece is considered to be the only reliable source of the Meditation faist sur ma Mort future by Froberger, which was used as a variant opening movement to the Partita in D FbWV611 from the Ms of 1656 and is also found in FbWV 620; for a detailed discussion of the different versions of this Partita see page XXXI, volume II of the complete works of Froberger edited by Siegbert Rampe for Bärenreiter (The versions of FbWV620 can be found in volumes III pt. 2 and VI Part 2.) The piece is followed by the comment that the Gigue, Courant and Saraband will follow later in the book, but unfortunately only the Courante has survived, as no. 22 of this Ms. There follows the first of three pieces by Balthasar Erben (1626-86), a short (16 bars of 3/2) Passagaglia Aus Sivers buch, based on C-Bb-A-G, a loose parody of the Passacagli added by Frescobaldi to the 1637 re-issue of his first book of Toccatas etc. Three anonymous short pieces comprising a Gavotte Royale in C, Triscottes de Paris in G minor and Triscottes de Blois in D minor are all in binary form in crotchets and minims; the second half of the Gavotte includes conjunct quaver passages in dotted rhythms for the player to ponder over. No. 10 is a setting of Amarillis in triple time in binary form (a nice parallel to the setting by Gisbert Steenwick in the Anna Maria van Eyl book of ca. 1671-4), no. 11 is a Courant in D minor by La Barre, possibly Pierre from this family, nos. 12-13 are a Courante and a Sarabande in A minor by Erben, the Courante concluding with a short Coda after the repeat. Nos. 14-16 present a group of three pieces in C, opening with an anonymous Allemande with some fussy dotted rhythms including both quavers and semiquavers, and syncopations is followed by the Courante by Chambonnières identified as Iris from numerous MSS and the printed source of the French composer’s pieces dated 1670 and an anonymous piece also with dotted rhythms including crotchet-dotted crotchet quaver, and dotted crotchet-quaver-crotchet, clearly a Sarabande, entitled La Altesse.

No. 17, an anonymous piece in D minor entitled La Duchesse, which is also to be found with one variation in MS569 at the Biblioteca Apostolica, the Vatican, where it is ascribed to Pietro Arnò, is presented in the two versions which appear in the MS., with noticeably different texts in places. It is in three sections, the first in triple time closes in F major, the second section modulates to C at which point the metre changes to cut C for the rest of the section and the third section; these sections are based on dotted crotchet-quaver rhythm. No. 18, also in D minor, is a Sarabande, although the writing including an upbeat quaver is stylistically closer to a Courante. 19-21 are all anonymous and comprise an Allemande which makes much use of dotted rhythms throughout, a Courant, and a Sarabande including much use of style brisé, which concludes with a short Coda.

Nos. 22-27 are all in D major, opening with a Courante by Froberger (also found in Suite V FbWV611 of his MS. of 1656, see comments to no. 5 of this Ms.) followed by an anonymous Sarabande which introduces more quaver movement in the right hand in the second section. No. 24 is entitled Petite Boureè (sic), the composer identified named as Artus, who has been conjecturally identified as Arthur aux Cousteax. The quavers are in a dotted rhythm and the piece concludes with a 2-bar coda. The following three pieces are all anonymous Courantes, of which the first two conclude with a short coda. No. 27 contains a larger number of grouped quavers in the right hand. The final piece in the MS. is entitled Ballo di Mantova; in C time and in D minor it mixes dotted with equal quavers, with a few semiquaver groups. There is a similarly entitled piece in A minor with two variations from MS569 at the Biblioteca Apostolica, the Vatican, by G. B. Ferrini, who worked in Rome. This version, and two versions in D minor are also included in the Ms. in the city library, Ancona with further versions in MS Z. 121 at the Biblioteca Vallicelliana in Rome. In binary form, the opening section of four bars, which finishes in the tonic also concludes the second section.

The introduction provides a concise overview of Weckmann’s contribution to the keyboard literature of the 17th century, biographical notes with information on Weckmann’s contacts with Froberger, a detailed discussion of the sources and the possible identity of the scribes including the composer himself, and the authenticity of the works in the volume. The specification of the four-manual organ in the Jacobikirche is included, and there is also an overview of keyboard instruments in use at the time of the composer. Essential reading are the very useful comments on performance practice including ornamentation and possible application of Frescobaldi’s comments about performance of Toccatas to Weckmann’s sometimes very dramatic and exciting essays in this genre. The critical commentary includes the few corrections deemed necessary by the editor. With up to six systems to the landscape page, at times the printing is on the small side. Several ornaments are marked in the pieces, and, given that Froberger is known to have sent Weckmann a MS of his pieces with ornaments marked (a), there is scope for at least further trills and mordents to be added to the free-form pieces as well as to the dance movements, particularly in the repeats. Some facsimiles are included. The editor has provided an interpretation of the signs used in the free-form pieces, as well as a table relevant to the dance movements in the Partitas and Hintze MS; careful perusal of these suggestions will assist greatly in unravelling these signs, not infrequently compound. A short octave keyboard is called for in a few pieces. Considered as an equal of Buxtehude by no less an authority than Johann Mattheson (b), it is very much to be wished that Weckmann’s keyboard pieces take their place in concerts; not easy to bring off successfully, with some of the free-form pieces also placing at times quite extensive technical demands on the player, the generally high quality of his compositions will make learning them a worthwhile task. (a): ‘Johann Mattheson, Grundlage einer Ehren-Pforte, Hamburg, 1740, p. 395 (b): ‘Johann Mattheson, Der volkommene Capellmeister, Hamburg, 1739, p. 130

Contents of the Hintze MS

No. in MSPage in MSTitleComposerKeyTime SigLengthNotes
11Allemande PlörantJonas Tresor (Jonas Tresure 17th century)eC34
22Cour(ante) Jo.Tr.(Jonas Tresure)e332 (1)-1
33Sarabande(Jonas Tresure?)e324 (1)
44-7Toccata : J.C.K.(Johann Kasper Kerll 1627-93)G (lacks sharp)C59
5Meditation faist sur ma Mort futvre la quelle se joue lentement avec discretion: di Gio: Gia: Fro(berger)(Johann Jacob Froberger 1616-67)DC40Partita in D (FbWV 611) and also FbWV 620
610Passagaglia. Balth. Erben: Aus Sivers BuchBalthasar Erben 1626-86 CC316
710Gavotte RoyaleAnonymousCCut C16
811Triscottes (Sic) de ParisAnonymousg (b flat only)Cut C18
911Tricottes (Sic) de BloisAnonymousd (lacks flat)Cut C18Starts on 1st beat of bar ie no upbeat
1011AmarillisAnonymousd (lacks flat)316
1112Covrant ((Pierre?) La Barre ca. 1634-1710)d (lacks flat)372 (2)
1212-13Courante. B. ErbenBalthasar Erben 1626-86 aC345 (3)
1314Sarabande d'ErbenBalthasar Erben 1626-86 a336 (4)See B. Gustafson French Harpsichord Music of the 17th Century Vol. II, p.51. Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1977/9.
1415-16AllemandeAnonymousCCut C48
1516Courante (Iris)(Jacques Champion de Chambonnières ca. 1602-72)C332 (1)(Suite 2) Livre Premier 1670
1617La Altesse (Sarabande)AnonymousC326 (5)
1717-18La DuchesseAnonymousd (lacks flat)3and C(6)Attributed to Pietro Arnò in MS 569 at the Biblioteca Apostolicana Vatican.
1818-19SarabandeAnonymousd(3)38 (4)
1920-21AllemandeAnonymousG (lacks sharp)Cut C40
2021CourantAnonymousG (lack sharp)326 (1)
2122SarabandeAnonymousG (lacks sharp)318 (6)
2223Courante Frob(erger)(Johann Jacob Froberger 1616-67)D328 (1)Suite V (FbWV 611)
2324SarabandeAnonymousD328 (1)
2424Petite Boureè(Artus(Arthur aux Cousteaux? 1656))DCut C17 (7)
2525Cour(ante)AnonymousD330 (8)
2626CouranteAnonymousD330 (8)See B. Gustafson French Harpsichord Music of the 17th Century Vol. II, p.53. Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1977/9.
2828Ballo di MantovaAnonymousd (lacks flat)C28Attributed to G.B.Ferrini in MS 569 at the Biblioteca Apostolicana Vatican.Also found anonymously in the City Library, Ancona and in MS. Z. 121 at the Biblioteca Vallicelliana in Rome

* signature noted where different from modern practice
** total length of pieces which are in binary form
(1) all bars of double length ie 6 beats to a bar
(2) all but first two bars (which have 3 beats each) of double length
(3) all bars of double length, and 2nd time includes coda of 3 extra bars
(4) all bars of double length and includes petite reprise of 2 bars at end of second half each time
(5) all bars of double length and includes petite reprise of 2 bars suggested by editor as being played 2nd time only
(6) opens in 3 time with 6 double length bars modulating to F (repeated) followed by 9 bars before a further 4 bars in cut C time and a close in F (repeated).
Final section is in cut C time and consists of 8 bars concluding in d, which are repeated plus a petite reprise of the final 4 bars after the second repeat
(7) all bars of double length and extra bar added at end of second section on second time
(8) all bars of double length, and 2nd time includes coda of 2 extra bars

Miscellaneous pieces

No. in editionTitleKeySourceTime Sig.Length
1Praeambulum Primi Toni a 5d (lacks flat)Lüneburg KN207/15 f.30v-31r(cut C) bars 1-53, cut C./3 bars 54-73, cut C bars 74-76 76
2Fantasia ex. Dd (lacks flat)Lüneburg KN209 p. 192-5(C) bars 1-43, 3/4 bars 44-102, cut C bars 103-111 111
3Fuga ex D, Ped primi Tonod (lacks flat)Leipzig Ms.II.2 p. 50-55(C) bars 1-47, 3/2 bars 48-118, cut C bars 119-151 151
4Toccatad (lacks flat)Lüneburg KN207/22(C) 56
5Toccata vel Praeludium 1mi. Tonid (lacks flat)Lüneburg KN147 f.1r-3vC bars 1-20, 3/4 bars 21-27 (bars double length), C bars 28-40 40
6ToccataeLüneburg KN147 f.4r-8vC bars 1-51, 3/4 bars 52-69, C bars 70-71 71
7ToccataeLüneburg KN147 f.9r-13rC (bars 1-2 double length) 58
8ToccataaLüneburg KN147 f.14v-19rC bars 11-13, 6/8 bars 14-33, C bars 34-78 78
9ToccataCLüneburg KN147 f.19v-24rC66
10Canzon Dall stesso TuonoCLüneburg KN147 f.25r-28vC bars 1-18, 3/4 bars 19-47, C bars 48-51 51
11Canzonc ( b flat and e flat)Lüneburg KN147 f.33r-38vC bars 1-41, 12/8 bars 42-63, (C) bars 64-97 97
12Canzond (lacks flat)Lüneburg KN147 f.39r-43vC bars 1-24, 3/4 bars 25-48 (d/l apart from 48), C bars 49-71 71
13CanzonCLüneburg KN147 f.47r-50vC bars 1-22, 3/4 bars 23-40, C 41-64 64
14CanzonG (lacks sharp)Lüneburg KN147 f.51r-54vC bars 1-19, 3/2 bars 20-39 (d/l until b39, C bars 40-53 53
15(Partita) A-C-S-Gd (lacks flat)Lüneburg KN147 f.29r-32vC, 3 (bars double length), 3 (bars double length), 12/8 28,26,16,24
16(Partita) A-G-C-S + Doublec (b flat and e flat)Lüneburg KN147 f.66v-70vC, 6/8, 3 (bars double length), 3 (bars double length) see (1) 28,32,24,8,23
17(Partita) Praeludium-A-(C)-S-Gb**Lüneburg KN147 f.71r-75rsee (2) 7,16,32,16,30
18(Partita) A-G-S eLüneburg KN147 f.75v-77vC, 12/8, 3 (bars double length)
19(Partita) A-G-C-S a (f sharp)Lüneburg KN147 f.55r-58vC, 6/8, 3 (bars double length), 3 (bars double length) 38,28,24,16
20(Partita) Die Lieblichen Blicke; 4 (Variatios)aLüneburg KN147 f.595-665C 3/4 variatio 1 (bars double lengths) and 2, 9/8 v3 and 3/4 v. 4 21,29,40,40
App.1 Lucidor einst hütt der schafd (lacks flat)Lynar A 1C20 bars (double length in each variation)

* signature noted where different from modern practice
** Praeludium: f sharp and c sharp, remaining movements f sharp, c sharp and g sharp.
(1) Le Double consists of 5 bars repeated (1-4 double length) bars 6-9 repeated, all of double length, followed by a coda of 5 bars
(2) C (bars double length), C, 3 (bars double length), 3 (bars double length), C6/4 (barred as 12/8)

Back to Publications.

© John Collins 2016