John Collins - Organist, Harpsichordist Iberian Musicologist, Translator

H.O.C.Zinck. Complete keyboard works volumes 2 and 3.

Title: H.O.C.Zinck. Complete keyboard works volumes 2 and 3.

Publisher: Edition HH, HH 241SOL and HH242SOL.

Price:£25.00 and £12.95 respectively.

Reviewed by John Collins

Volume one of the complete keyboard works of Hardenack Otto Conrad Zinck was reviewed in Clavichord International, Volume 15 no. 1, May 2011, and now the remaining two volumes are available.

Volume two contains a further six sonatas, the first four of which appeared in print between 1791 and 1793 in the four volumes of Compositioner for Sangen og Claveret. In general they exhibit less of the Empfindsamkeit of the sonatas in the first volume (although the slow movement to sonata 8 is a highly passionate work recalling Zinck’s teacher C.P.E.Bach) and a greater assimilation of Haydnesque figures, but there are still plenty of notable moments including the first movement of sonata 7 built entirely on dotted or triplet figures, and the central section of that sonata’s final rondo-like movement in which a syncopated figure in octaves covers some 60 bars. Sonata 8 in G minor offers far greater originality verging on the eccentric in its modulations, figurations, and textural and tempo changes in the first movement – indeed there is a passage of arpeggiated triads in sixteenth note triplets that could be the 18th century counterpart to the well-known closing passage of Rossi’s Toccata seven! The closing Presto also makes forays into extraneous keys, its mainly two-note texture being interrupted by full chords in the LH. The first movement of sonata 9 is a moto perpetuo with little respite, the slow movement carries the comment that if the composer had had a good mood and more time he would have composed further and better variations to go with the one printed. The closing Rondo is short, its quaver movement not as taxing as other pieces in this collection. The first movement of Sonata 10 is close to Koželuch, alternating allegro figuration with a cantabile Italianate second subject. Its slow movement also offers contrasts, the central section consisting of semiquaver figuration over quarter notes, and the closing poco a poco presto in 3/8 offers sufficient rhythmic and articulation challenges, and requires a top G.

The remaining two sonatas are taken from a manuscript collection compiled by his brother Bendix and are generally considerably less demanding. The first one opens with an andante, followed by a short Romanze marked lanto and closes with an andantino con (8) variazioni with increasingly lively figuration through to no. 5 and closing with a presto al’Inglese. The opening movement of the second sonata from this MS is built almost entirely on Alberti bass figuration below a cantabile line– one wonders what his teacher would have said! There follows a Grazioso in similar style and the sonata closes with a rondo that is full of a tuneful charm, but more tricky than it appears.

Volume three includes two sets of variations and some twelve short miscellaneous pieces including an untitled piece entitled “stop-gap” taken from Compositioner that is in the style of a polonaise, and form the MS compiled by his brother there are three minuets, a polonaise an Adagio, an Allegretto, a Rondo and three Solfeggii (one being in two versions); of these one is a simple binary from piece mainly in crotchets, the other two having brilliant RH passagework. The other piece is a setting of the song Das Traumschiff, its flowing melodic line over semiquavers approaching Schubert or even the Lieder ohne Wörter of Mendelssohn. The reproduction of the melody and text written onto a ship’s sails is fascinating. Most of these pieces are carefully fingered. The sets of variations comprise seven on the popular song “Lison dormait” taken from the Compositioner collection and specifically directed by the composer towards the younger player, which increase in brilliance, but only the crossed hands passages in no. 5 pose any real problem. The expansive set of 24 variations on the Rundgesang der Kinder in Ludwigslust was published separately in 1787, and its origins are described in the Introduction – suffice it to say that its striking technical demands in the later variations including an extensive cadenza will exercise professional players.

This new edition faithfully carries across the fingering, phrasing and highly detailed articulation markings that make these pieces so suitable for the clavichord. Volume two is ring-bound with a wrap-around cover, volume three, being shorter, is stapled but the pages remain open without any problems. Christopher Hogwood deserves our thanks for disinterring these pieces, in particular the sonatas especially the quirkily original no. 8 in volume 2, from the mausoleum of the “lesser-known” composers; it is for us to bring them to life beneath our fingers and introduce them to a fresh audience.

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© John Collins 2013