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Pachelbel & Mattheson

Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) Organ Works vol. II

Matthew Owens at The Frobenius Organ at Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh

Delphian DCD 34031

This is the first of the series to reach us; it has the huge advantage of a delightful Frobenius organ in Edinburgh with some seductive registrations to ensure variety.

Mainly chorale preludes, with a few short fugues etc, this disc should do a lot to vindicate the notes-writer's claim that Pachelbel (who used to be known for just one piece, his Canon in D) was one of the principal and pioneering composers of his day [Adam Binks]. The presentation is exemplary, filling you in with all you might want to know.

Enjoyed, recommended and looking forward to other volumes.

Johann Mattheson (1681–1764) Harmony's Monument
(first complete recording)

Colin Booth, harpsichords (Booth after Vater & Vaudry)

Soundboard SBCD 208 [http://www.soundboard-records.co.uk/]

If you are waiting for a recording of Mattheson's twelve suites Harmony's Monument, this is your chance ! But Colin Booth, prolific recording artist, indefatigable champion of the harpsichord literature and battler with the BBC on behalf of his instrument, gives little reason in the notes (CB & Douglas Bennett) why, if Mattheson so far had passed you by, you should be.

Johann Mattheson was a friend of Handel's and they both decided not to take up an appointment at Lubeck, the terms of which required the successful candidate to marry Buxtehude's daughter... A nice anecdote, but it gives no clue how the music might be special. A portrait (the same one reproduced three times in the booklet) shows "an extrovert egocentric", but by listening to these suites you'll look in vain for anything to pin him down amongst his contemporaries. The suites are all, I fear, too same-y, even though one of them contains music plagiarised from Böhm and altered "at Mattheson's whim"; that was OK, thought Mattheson, "as a tribute"...

Exploring available literature, my New Grove is fulsome about his importance as an active professional musician and writer, but has little to say about the music per se in a lengthy entry. Wikpedia came to the rescue: [ - - All of [Mattheson's] music, except for one opera, one oratorio, and a few collections of instrumental music, went missing with the spoils of war after World War II, but was given back to Hamburg by Yerevan (Armenia) in 1998 - - The manuscripts are now located at the Staats and Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg, former Hamburg Stadtbibliothek - - ]Mattheson's Brockes Passion is available from Amazon.

One plus point to help keep up the interest is that Booth is playing two of the harpsichords made in his studio. As to the playing, it sounds to us rather 'straight' with little in the way of permissible rubato or expressivity. So the disc(s)* are strictly for collectors of intégrales and "firsts".

The scores of these Harmony's Monument suites, edited by Dr. Hermann Hinsch, are available free at http://www.icking-music-archive.org/ByComposer/Mattheson.php] So I will hope to take time to try out some of the music on my clavichord...

Both these CDs arrived (separately) with broken jewel cases; surely those should be pensioned off as obsolete?

Peter Grahame Woolf

* I have not ascertained whether the Mattheson twofer is priced two-for-the-price-of-one?
And do check out our very positive responses to several of Colin Booth's CDs and his live playing at Greenwich.