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Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

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Archaic Torso of Apollo:
This Dutch* composer seems to be one of those figures who looms large in musical history, but seldom gets performed (at least anywhere I happen to be).

My only experience with him consists of some keyboard pieces played on a modern piano (!), including the semi-famous Variations on "Mein junges Leben hat ein End." Lately I've been eyeing a disc of his choral music on Harmonia Mundi.

I'd like to get some opinions on his oeuvre. Any fans out there?

* Note: I do not wish to get into a dispute about his "true" nationality  ;)

Why don't you try this, and yes I am a admirer.

I really like Sweelinck but only really his keyboard/organ works both on period and modern instruments. His choral works don't do it for me. My impression (and admittedly this is only based on the Hyperion 2 disc set of complete sacred works) is that they are harmonically a little dull with not enough vertical variety or flavor to maintain any horizontal movement or interest. Having said that, I did come very close to buying the Glossa set Harry recommended as that is one label that has changed my mind about a number of composers.

For Organ and other Keyboard music, take a look at Herrick's 2-CD set on Hyperion:

Very enjoyable music. AFAIK, Sweelinck is considered one of the fathers of the North-German organ school which culminated in masters like Buxtehude and Bruhns - and Bach, of course ;D

Archaic Torso of Apollo:
Listening update

I've been listening to this Naxos of Sweelinck's harpsichord music, played by Glen Wilson, a protege of Gustav Leonhardt:

A lot of this music is complex, and it will take a while to evaluate it. However, based on this and some other listening, I think Sweelinck will wind up high in my personal ranking of early keyboard composers. I find his output more compelling that what I've heard from Frescobaldi and Froberger, though maybe not quite as outstanding as Byrd. I'm not the best judge of harpsichords, but performance and recording quality seem pretty good. Recommended.


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