sábado, 10 de enero de 2015

The Choir Project al día | 03-I-2015

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck [Deventer, ?May 1562-Amsterdam, 16 Oct 1621]: Ab oriente venerunt Magi a 5.
Huelgas Ensemble | Paul Van Nevel.
Music for Epiphany.

     Randall H. Tollefsen and Pieter Dirksen wrote aboyt Sweelinck:
«I. Life.

    Sweelinck was the elder son of Peter Swybbertszoon and his wife Elske Sweeling. Swybbertszoon, Sweelinck and Sweelinck’s son Dirck were successively organists of the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, almost uninterruptedly from about 1564 to 1652, and Sweelinck’s paternal grandfather and uncle were also organists. For as yet unknown reasons Sweelinck adopted the family name of his mother, first using it on the title-page of his Chansons of 1594. From his early youth until his death he lived in Amsterdam. He never left the Low Countries and was never away from Amsterdam for longer than a few days at a time (except perhaps for a stay in Haarlem for study); the oft-repeated tale of his study in Venice with Zarlino, first related by Mattheson in 1740, is without foundation. His early general education was in the hands of Jacob Buyck, pastor at the Oude Kerk, and came to an end with the Reformation of Amsterdam in 1578. Besides his father, who probably gave him his first music lessons but who died when he was 11, his only known music teacher was Jan Willemszoon Lossy, a countertenor and shawm player at Haarlem, of whom little is known. Lossy was not an organist but may have taught Sweelinck composition. Cornelis Boskoop, briefly his father’s successor at the Oude Kerk in 1573, may have been among his organ teachers, and if Sweelinck indeed studied at Haarlem he would certainly have heard, and may have studied with, the organists Claas Albrechtszoon van Wieringen (active 1529–75) or the well-known Floris van Adrichem (organist 1575–8), both of whom improvised daily in the Bavokerk there.

     Cornelis Plemp, a pupil and friend of Sweelinck, stated that his master was an organist for a period of 44 years. If this is true he would have started in 1577 at the age of 15. His tenure of the position at the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, can, however, be traced only from 1580, although it may have begun earlier, as the church records from 1577 to 1580 are lacking. His initial salary of 100 florins was doubled in 1586 (the year after his widowed mother died, when he took upon himself the care of his younger brother and sister). In 1590 his salary was raised to 300 florins, with the provision that, should he marry, it would be raised by another 100 or he could live rent-free; later that year he married and chose the latter. His last rise, to 360 florins, came in 1607; he still lived rent-free. Contrary to tradition, he was not engaged as both organist and carillonneur (the latter post was entrusted to the organ builder Artus Gheerdinck). Nor did his duties include the supplying of music for the regular ceremonial and social occasions of the city magistrate, as was the case in many other cities at that time, although he did provide this music on a few special occasions. This seemingly conscious restriction of his duties has been seen as an attempt by him to keep enough free time for his extensive work as a teacher, for which he became celebrated (see §2 below). But one must not underestimate the demands of his post. Since the Calvinists saw the organ as a worldly instrument and forbade its use during services, Sweelinck was actually a civil servant employed by the city of Amsterdam (which in any case owned the organs). His contract does not survive, but, on the evidence of various second-hand reports and contracts of organists in other important Dutch cities of the period, it is generally assumed that his duties were to provide music twice daily in the church – an hour in the morning and in the evening. When there was a service this musical hour came before and/or after it. Sweelinck was known for his organ and harpsichord improvisations: more than once the proud city authorities brought important visitors to the church to hear the ‘Orpheus of Amsterdam’. The instruments at his disposal in the Oude Kerk were a large organ with three manuals and pedal built originally by Hendrik Niehoff in 1539–45, and a small one with two manuals and pedal built in 1544–5 by Niehoff and Jasper Johanszoon (they are described by C.H. Edskes in Curtis, 1969; see also J. van Biezen, 1995).

    Sweelinck led an uneventful, well-regulated life. His few documented absences from Amsterdam (except for his marriage) were entirely in conjunction with his professional activities. He inspected new organs at Haarlem (1594, with Philip Janszoon van Velsen and Willem Aertszoon), Middelburg (1603), Nijmegen (1605, with Van Velsen) and Dordrecht (1614, with H.J. Speuy) and the restored or repaired organs at Harderwijk (1608) – where he also wrote a canon for the mayor – Delft (1610), Dordrecht (1614), Deventer (1616) – his birthplace, which he had also visited in 1595, perhaps to give advice about the forthcoming restoration of the organ – Haarlem (1620) and Enkhuizen (1621). In 1610 he was at Rotterdam to act as adviser for planned improvements to the organ in the Laurenskerk, and he played the organ at Rhenen in 1616 during an informal visit with the organ builder Kiespenninck, who had restored the instrument five years earlier. His longest journey was in 1604 to Antwerp, where he purchased a harpsichord (possibly by Ruckers) for the city of Amsterdam.

Sweelinck was buried in the Oude Kerk. He was survived by his wife and five of his six children, of whom only the eldest, Dirck Janszoon Sweelinck, was a musician. John Bull, who was probably a personal friend, wrote a fantasia on one of his themes shortly after his death (see MB, xiv, 1960, rev. 2/1971, p.12). There are two portraits of him. One, a painting of 1606 (in NL-DHgm), is attributed to his brother Gerrit Pietersz, a talented painter and the teacher of Pieter Lastman, who in turn taught Rembrandt. The other is an engraving made in 1624 (see fig.1); its model is lost.

II. Sweelinck as teacher.

    Sweelinck’s gifts as a teacher, for which he was famous throughout northern Europe, are an essential part of his importance for music history, for the founders of the so-called north German organ school of the 17th century (culminating in Bach) were among his pupils. His local pupils included talented dilettantes as well as a number of young professional musicians. The most important of the latter were Cornelis Janszoon Helmbreecker and his own son Dirck; others were Pieter Alewijnszoon de Vois, Jan Pieterszoon van Reynsburch, Willem Janszoon Lossy (son of his Haarlem teacher) and Claude Bernardt. After the turn of the century his reputation attracted pupils from Germany. These included Andreas Düben, Samuel and Gottfried Scheidt, Melchior Schildt and Paul Siefert, as well as Ulrich Cernitz, Jacob Praetorius (ii), Johannes Praetorius and Heinrich Scheidemann, who later held the four principal organists’ posts at Hamburg – hence the description of Sweelinck as ‘hamburgischen Organistenmacher’ (see Mattheson). The pupils of ‘Master Jan Pieterszoon of Amsterdam’ were seen as musicians against whom other organists were measured, and it was for this reason that talented young men were sent to study with him at the expense of their city councils. The costs included room and board at his house, as well as instruction, and may have totalled 200 florins a year per student. A notable by-product of Sweelinck’s pedagogical activities is his translation and adaptation of large sections from the third part of Zarlina’s Le istitutioni harmoniche (3/1573), which was preserved in a German version through the work of his Hamburg pupils.

III. Works: introduction.

     As well as being one of the most famous organists and teachers of his time, Sweelinck was the last and most important composer of the musically rich golden era of the Netherlanders. Research into this period as a whole has brought his music and influence into better focus. He is no longer seen as the lone north European giant of his time but rather as a gifted craftsman and musician who was the equal of his European contemporaries. His influence, however, cannot be said to have extended beyond about 1650, whereas that of Frescobaldi, for instance, lasted until the end of the century. His keyboard music is now seen to be less the work of an innovator than of one who perfected forms derived from, among others, the English virginalists and transmitted them through his pupils to north Germany. His immediate influence can be seen in the music of Samuel Scheidt and Anthoni van Noordt. His surviving output amounts to 254 vocal works, including 33 chansons, 19 madrigals, 39 motets and 153 psalms (three existing in two versions), as well as about 70 keyboard works, principally in the form of fantasias, echo fantasias, toccatas and variations. Only four pieces, all canons, are known in autograph sources. All his vocal works were printed, and one can assume that he himself corrected most of the proofs. On the other hand, none of his keyboard works was published during his lifetime; however, manuscript sources are surprisingly numerous and transmit mostly reliable texts.

IV. Vocal works.

      In none of Sweelinck’s vocal works, which predominate in his output, is there a setting of a text in his native language – they are for the most part in French – and none of those on sacred texts was written for performance during public worship services. Most are for five voices. Although the performance of one or more vocal parts by instruments is suggested only on the title-page of the Chansons, this is not to say that the rest of his vocal music is to be sung a cappella: one or more voices of the Rimes, for instance, lend themselves well to instrumental performance.

     Sweelinck’s first publications were of chansons: the collection of 1594 (the year 1584 after the dedication is a typographical error) contains 18 five-part chansons, to which were added four by Cornelis Verdonck. There may have been two further collections (1592–3). Sweelinck published 12 chansons and 15 madrigals in Rimes françoises et italiennes (1612). They have an elegance and transparency – inherent in two- and three-part writing – not found in the earlier chansons, and they often include long canonic sections. At least five of the madrigals are modelled on works by Domenico Maria Ferrabosco, Andrea Gabrieli, Macque and Marenzio.

    Sweelinck’s polyphonic setting of the Psalter has been justifiably called a monument of Netherlandish music unequalled in the sphere of sacred polyphony. From the outset he intended to set the entire Psalter, and the publication of his music for it spanned the whole of his creative life: his first two psalm settings appeared anonymously in a collection of 1597, his first book of psalms was published in 1604 (fig.2), and the fourth and final book appeared shortly after his death. The texts are from the French metrical Psalter of Marot and Bèze, not the Dutch version of Datheen (1566) used in most Dutch churches until 1773. This was probably because the psalms were not intended for use in public Calvinist services but rather within a circle of well-to-do musical amateurs among whom French was the preferred language. This supposition is strengthened by the dedications of the first and second books respectively to the burgomasters and aldermen of Amsterdam and to a number of Calvinist merchants of the city, the latter probably being members of the ‘compagnie des nourissons, disciples, fauteurs et amateurs de la douce et saincte musique’ of which Sweelinck was the leader. In style and technique the psalms follow in the tradition of Clemens non Papa, Goudimel and their Venetian contemporaries. Homophony appears alongside strict counterpoint, with imitation in all voices; both the strict motet and madrigal style and the lighter chanson and villanella style can be found. Although Sweelinck explored all harmonic possibilities, chromaticism appears only sporadically. The cantus firmi – the melodies of the Genevan Psalter – provide the unifying element in each psalm. Most of the settings fall into one of three general categories: the ‘cantus firmus psalm’, where each line of the melody (in superius and/or tenor), separated by related interludes, is accompanied by a rhythmically altered form of the melody in the other voices; the ‘lied psalm’, where the uninterrupted melody appears in the superius; and the ‘echo psalm’, where the full cantus firmus is found in two separate voices, often in canon.

     Sweelinck’s other important vocal collection, the Cantiones sacrae (1619), is the musical and religious antithesis of the psalms. It comprises 37 motets on texts from the Catholic liturgy and is dedicated to his young Catholic friend and pupil Cornelis Plemp; it thus raises the question as to whether Sweelinck remained a Catholic in the service of the ruling Calvinist minority. These motets show that in his compositional technique he kept abreast of the music of his time. The lack of a cantus firmus tends to make them more compact, but at the same time they have lost the transparency and vitality of the psalms. Several modern techniques are used: for example, there is more chromaticism, and the counterpoint is more harmonic and ornamental; but the basso continuo is more accurately termed a basso seguente (this is the only time that Sweelinck called for a separate instrumental part in a vocal collection). 14 of the motets have codas on the word ‘Alleluia’, some of them quite extended.»

      This is the new album by Huelgas Ensemble | Paul Van Nevel, called «Mirabile Mysterium» and published by Deutsche Harmonia Mundi. It's a wonderful compilation of Christmas pieces.
As usual, the performance of Huelgas is really amazing: beauty, impressive sonority and very expressive.
An essential album, perfect as a gift at this time.

No hay comentarios: