First recordings galore on the most comprehensive collection ever issued of an overlooked master of the early German Baroque.
Born around 1570, Christian Erbach apparently pursued the career of a musician from his earliest years. By his early 30s he had taken over organist positions in Augsburg previously held by the better known Hans Leo Hassler (the subject of another unrivalled compendium by Manuel Tomadin on Brilliant Classics, 95331).
Like Hassler, Erbach was evidently influenced as a composer by Italian and in particular Venetian flavours of polychoral and effervescent writing even in his instrumental output. The predominant forms in this set are toccatas, canzonas and ricercars, as well as instrumental‘settings’ of the Magnificat and the Ordinary of the Mass for liturgical use.
Erbach himself must have been an organist of tremendous flourish and with an ear for liturgical theatre, to judge from the colourful array of textures he demands in his music. Both his music and his renown as a teacher exercised a formative influence over the next two generations of German organ music – from which eventually emerged its own dominant figure, Johann Sebastian Bach (who also looked over to the other side of the Alps for stylistic inspiration).
In an extensive booklet introduction to Erbach’s life and works, the organist Manuel Tomadin makes available much research otherwise unavailable in English. He has chosen to make this comprehensive set on a selection of organs in northern Italy and Austria, all of them equipped with the registral possibilities to make the composer’s music sing in its own language, and several of them dating from Erlebach’s own time, based in Bologna, Mantova, Pistoia and farther afield. All the instruments are illustrated in the booklet with colour photographs and a detailed registration plan, making the set invaluable for both organ buffs and any listener with a broader interest in the German Baroque.
· Christian Erbach’s exact date of birth is unknown, but he was probably born between 1568 and 1573. For most of his life he worked as assistant and then resident organist in Augsburg (Germany). His assignments included the teaching of music composition and organ playing to selected students from the choral school of the Cathedral. He was a highly regarded teacher and his good credit attracted both Catholic (like him) and Protestant students from many other cities.
· Christian Erbach can be considered the most important music teacher of his time, together with J.P. Sweelinck from Amsterdam. The works he composed for keyboards are usually Fugues, Ricercari, Magnificats and Canzonas, and also Introitos, and Versos for the liturgical use. His Toccatas, above all, strongly influenced the organ composition style of Southern Germany, thanks to their virtuoso style. The composition style is reminiscent of the works of Gabrieli of the Venetian School, in the employment of some of the most majestic and sumptuous Italian instruments of his time, that are, luckily, still working and suitable to be used for these recordings. For example, the twenty-four feet organ placed in San Petronio in Bologna sounds absolutely majestic: this instrument is capable of highlighting both the low and the high frequencies, paying the righteous tribute to the high composition level of Erbach’s works.
· Manuel Tomadin plays a variety of organs for this set, several of which are historical and date from the time of composition. Each organ is described in the extensive liner notes.
· Tomadin is one of the foremost Italian organists of today, a scholar and passionate musician, with an impressive discography to his name: Husumer Organ Book, Alberti Complete Keyboard Works, Van Noordt, Krebs, Lübeck, Hassler, Martini and other North German organ masters.