Johann Krieger (1652-1735) won the esteem of Handel, no less, for the skill of his counterpoint and the inventive power of his organ music. For the theorist Mattheson, Krieger was likewise the pre-eminent exponent of complex counterpoint in his generation. Yet music-lovers have hitherto been able to sample Krieger’s work only in excerpted compilations. The present album occupies a unique place in the catalogue as by far the most extensive survey of Krieger on disc, containing his two published collections of keyboard music.
CD1 is filled with the six harpsichord suites which were published in 1697 in Krieger’s home town of Nürnberg, though by then the composer himself was employed as an organist in the Saxon town of Zittau: a post he filled for 54 years until his death. The Suites are themselves prefaced by an elaborate fantasia, and they contain the standard sequence of dance numbers – allemandes, courantes, sarabandes and gigues.
Published two years later, the Anmuthige Clavier-Übung was probably written earlier, and functions as a small library of preludes, ricercares, fugues, fantasias, toccatas and a chaconne, which are not grouped together by key. Both collections make clear that Krieger deserves to rank with Fischer, Kuhnau and Pachelbel as one of the outstanding German keyboard composers of the generation before Bach.
The Seville-born keyboard player Alejandro Casal has worked with many luminaries of the early-music world such as Gustav Leonhardt, Alan Curtis and Giuliano Carmignola. For his debut on Brilliant Classics he made the first recording of the complete ricercars, fugues and sonatas by Sebastián de Albero (95187). ‘Casal performs this sometimes odd music with a forceful and vibrant manner. He is often very direct in his use of the keyboards and strict rhythms, but he doesn’t miss a note of the often strange harmonies, allowing them to appear in just an abrupt a fashion as the composer intended… Casal brings to life Albero’s music in a new and vibrant manner.’ Fanfare magazine, November 2016.
Johann Krieger (1652-1735) was an important composer of the German keyboard school, and together with Buxtehude, Böhm, Muffat, Pachelbel, Kuhnau and Lübeck he paved the way for the great Johann Sebastian Bach.
Krieger was for most part of his life the organist of Zittau in Saxony. Two printed collections of his keyboard music survive: Sechs musicalische Partien (1697), containing six partitas for the harpsichord, and Anmuthige Clavier-Übung (1699), with nine preludes, five ricercares, seven fugues, a fantasy, two toccatas and a chaconne. Mattheson confirmed Johann Krieger’s reputation in Der Vollkommene Capellmeister (Hamburg, 1739): “This man merits being remembered at the forefront of the best and most thorough contrapunctists of the century”.
Alejandro Casal plays on a copy of a Christian Vater (1738) harpsichord. The organ pieces were recorded at Faro Cathedral (Portugal). The organ was built by Johann Heinrich Hulenkampf, disciple of famous Arp Schnitger, and was devised in the way of the North of Germany, around 1715-16. It was remodelled in 1767 by Pasquale Gaetano Oldovini, who enlarged it. Daniele Boccaccio is one of Italy’s foremost keyboard players. A scholar as well, he did extensive research into historic sources. He plays 3 different historic organs and a copy of a Flemish harpsichord.
Alejandro Casal already made an impressive recording of keyboard works by Sebastián de Albero for Brilliant Classics.