Scheidt

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COMPOSERS: Scheidt
LABELS: MDG Scene
WORKS: Tabulatura nova, Vol. 1
PERFORMER: Christina Landshamer (soprano)Franz Raml (organ, harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 614 1155-2
Samuel Scheidt’s three-volume Tabulatura nova – so-called because it was written in open score rather than in the then conventional keyboard tablature or on six-line staves – is one of the most important collections of keyboard music of the early 17th century, its contents devoted for the most part to variations of one kind or another, both sacred and secular. The 13 works do not always make for the easiest listen, but keyboard player Franz Raml fairly rejoices in Scheidt’s resourceful, sometimes flamboyant approach to his themes. What’s more, this is for its time unprecedentedly idiomatic music, designed to explore the possibilities of the keyboard rather than something purely abstract.

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Raml plays the sacred music on the lovely Arp Schnitger organ of 1682/3 (based on an instrument by Antonius Wilde built in 1598 and rebuilt, with minor additions, by Jürgen Ahrend in 1981/2) in a none-too-resonant church in Lüdingworth, Germany, and chooses for his harpsichord a sonorous-sounding early 17th-century example by the German builder Bernhard von Tucher. Though sometimes he can’t quite cope with the mechanics of the instrument – occasionally the pedal part lags behind the keyboard part – his fingerwork, especially in the harpsichord pieces, is dazzling. Soprano Christina Landshamer sings some of the verses in the chorale variations with an apt lack of obtrusiveness. Stephen Pettitt