Another labour of love from the Italian organist Manuel Tomadin, adding to his much-praised catalogue of collections by masters of the German and Italian Baroque.
Born in Nuremberg in 1564 within a musical family, Hassler received his formative musical instruction from his father and quickly developed into a keyboard player of formidable gifts: in the dedication to his 1591 Cantiones sacrae he noted that he was ‘from a tender age more talkative with the fingers than with the tongue’. In 1584 Hassler left Nuremberg to continue his education in Venice, becoming one of the first in a long line of German musicians who journeyed south of the Alps for study in Italian musical centres.
While his motets and other vocal works were widely disseminated during his lifetime and have attracted recordings by period-instrument luminaries such as Philippe Herreweghe, his output for organ and harpsichord has received much less than its fair share of attention. One probable cause is that none of it was published during his lifetime, and yet Manuel Tomadin demonstrates that across its range there is no reason for music of this invention and lively originality to be hid under a bushel.
In a 1593 portrait, Hassler is described as a ‘most esteemed organist’, and a single-manual chamber organ with pedal is prominently included in the frame. After moving back to Germany, taking a succession of prestigious posts in musical centres across central and southern Germany including his home city, he became known as an expert in organ design, and his own music for the instrument exploits every possible technical and colouristic refinement of the new instruments of his age. Hassler died in 1612.
On this set, Manuel Tomadin plays a collection of historically appropriate instruments in Italian churches, and the collection is highly attractive as a gallery of Italian organ-building in its own right. The formal weight of Hassler’s output falls on instrumental paraphrases and elaborations of the Magnificat hymn, complemented as in Frescobaldi with ornate and harmonically adventurous ricercars and more lyrical canzonas.
Critical praise for Manuel Tomadin on Brilliant Classics
‘The phrasing is precise and convincing, and Tomadin has a positive knack for making the simplest of lines and lyrical themes interesting and listenable. He will have done a tremendous service to the world of music in this recording… Highly recommended.’ Fanfare (Alberti, 95161)
‘Wonderfully vibrant and spirited, including one of the finest renditions of the BWV 577 I’ve ever heard—it practically has one skipping about the room in delight.’ Fanfare (Bach/Buxtehude, 95941)
‘Scholarly and well-researched performances… I particularly enjoyed his inégales in some of the harpsichord performances.’ Early Music Review (Lübeck, 95453)
- Hans Leo Hassler was born in Nuremberg where his first music teacher was his father, Isaac Hassler, who was an organist. Nuremberg had important trade and musical relations with Venice at that time and thanks to this fact, in 1584, Hassler moved to the Italian city, probably the first well known German composer to move to Italy for study purposes. At that time the Venetian school was at its climax with the magnificence of the polyphonic style, which was about to spread and to become popular throughout Europe. Hassler became friends with Giovanni Gabrieli, both studying organ and composition with Giovanni’s uncle, Andrea Gabrieli. He also got to know the organists Zarlino and Merulo. After Andrea Gabrieli’s death, Hassler left Venice and was appointed chamber organist by Ottaviano Fugger II In Augsburg starting from January 1586, where he became well known both as an organist and composer. From 1600 until 1604 he worked as organist of the Frauenkirche in Nuremberg. He spent his later years in in Ulm where he married in 1604, and from 1608 in Dresden where he became chamber organist at the court of Christian II, Elector of Saxony. Unfortunately he fell ill of tuberculosis and prematurely died in 1612.
- In adopting the new Italian style of the “stile concertato", the polychoral music and the typical emotional expressivity of the Venetian school, Hassler was the first protagonist of the Baroque outside Italy.
- This new recording presents the complete organ music by Hassler, a collection of toccatas, canzonas, ricercares, mass settings, Magnificat settings and variation sets, music of great originality, contrapuntal fluency and melodic inventiveness.
- Played on a variety of historic Italian organs from the 16th and 17th century by Manuel Tomadin, 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 and other North German organ masters.