Known as the “Orpheus of Amsterdam,” Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck was the greatest single influence on the succeeding generation of north European organists and composers, including H. Scheidemann, J. Praetorius II, M. Schildt, and both Samuel and Gottfried Scheidt. Jonathan Dimmock brings these influential works to life on three landmark mean-tone organs in Holland and Sweden.
This two-disc set is devoted primarily to music of Sweelinck, but also contains works of Heinrich Scheidemann, William Byrd, and an anonymous composer of works found in the Susanne van Soldt Notebook of 1599. Jonathan’s performances are exemplary, combining scholarly performance practice and solid technique with vital aural communication.
The program mixes sacred and secular works. The choice between harpsichord and organ for Sweelinck’s folksong variations was quite flexible at this period, and Jonathan makes a convincing case for the possibility – not the necessity – of playing works like Onder een linde groen and Mein junges Leben hat ein End on a brightly-voiced organ. The three Fantasias included here do profit from the sustained pipe sound, as do the two Psalm settings. …The chorale variations, as with those Pachelbel, may have been conceived for home devotional use, hence for harpsichord or spinet, but their charm is evident in these organ performances. We may think of dance pieces as harpsichord or clavichord works, but the three anonymous selections here represent some of what Sweelinck may well have included in his civic concerts, which is where organ music (banned in Dutch Calvinist worship) was widely heard. And they do dance along on the vibrant one-manual organ of the Andreaskerk in Hattem, the Netherlands.”
– The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians