Johann & Johann Philipp Krieger.
Complete organ and keyboard works, edited by Siegbert Rampe and Helene Lerch in two volumes.
The brothers Krieger are amongst the most important contemporaries of Pachelbel in S Germany, Johann (1651-1735) being represented by two published collections and some 15 works preserved in MSS, whilst his older brother (1649-1725) has fared far less well, with only three compositions surviving in MSS. It is a great shame that their compositions are rarely heard today, maybe because of the difficulty of obtaining the Denkmäler series, therefore this new edition fills the gap admirably.
The first volume of this new edition contains the compositions from the published collections of Johann, the “Sechs musicalische Partien” of 1697 and the “Anmuthige Clavier-Ubung” of 1699. The first collection opens with an extended Fantasia which includes a tuneful aria-like section that returns frequently, a highly chromatic section, and two-part writing including written-out demisemiquaver tirades. This piece is followed by six partitas that all contain the basic Allemande, Corrente, Sarabande and Gigue, with an extra Menuet being included in nos. 3 and 4. No.6 in Bb is the most extended set, the second Double of the Sarabande having three aria-like variations, with flowing semiquavers; the set concludes with a short Rondeau. There is also a Menuet, Bourée and Gavotte in G, and a Menuet and Bourée in A minor. Several of the Allemandes have an insistent anapaest rhythm (those with repeated notes sound like trumpet calls), and the doubles of the Sarabandes are rich in style brisée. The Giques in D minor and A are in Common Time and markedly fugal, as is the 6/8 example in Bb; the latter requires a fluent technique to play cleanly.
The “Anmuthige Clavier-Ubung” contains 25 pieces of which only the Toccatas in C and D require pedals, although they can be used to good effect in several other pieces. Pairings of Praeludium and Ricercar or Fugue predominate, the former offering enough compositional variety to alleviate the archaic style of many of the contrapuntal works; the edition uses blackened notation in the tripletime sections of the latter. There are two more loose Preludes, of which the chromatic C minor is most effective. The collection finishes with the magnificent Giacona in G minor, with several of the couplets making tremendous technical demands on the player. This piece is a worthy companion to the Passacaglia by Georg Muffat in the same key.
The second volume opens with three pieces by Johann Philipp Krieger. The Passaglia (sic) in D minor retains the original 3/1 notation which may offer initial problems; there are some interesting variants collated. The technical demands are immense. The Aria with 24 variations in Bb is a singularly tuneful work with plenty of variety, and the Toccata in A minor has a more sustained durezze-style central section and finishes with a workmanlike fugue. Johann Krieger’s works from MSS include fragments of Chorale settings, as well as complete settings for manuals only of Herr Christ der Einig gottes Sohn and In dich habe ich gehoffet, Herr, but of greater interest to clavichord players are the series of Preludes. A fine example in C consists of Durezze, Praeludium and a lengthy Thema finishing with a triple time section. The Preludio in D minor opens with massive semibreve chords, some being “connected” by quaver runs, before the piece settles into a more regular movement, Krieger once again demonstrating his affection for chromatic passages. Also in D minor, the Passagaglia (sic) is worth attention, as are the Toccata and Fugue in the same key (nos. 12 & 13) and the Praeludium and Fugue in G minor. Amongst the works of uncertain authenticity, a gigue-like Fantasia in C and Praeludium in C minor stand out. Finally a Praeludium in Bb by Kuhnau is included, which may be coupled with the Fugue no. 18.
The introductory notes give full information in German and English about the composers, their works, the sources and contemporary instruments. There are many works here which are worth the effort of learning, and the Partitas and the Giacona in Volume 1 as well as J P Krieger’s Passaglia and Aria from Volume 2 would grace any clavichord recital; it is time that these so-called minor composers were brought to the attention of the concert-going public. Many of the contrapuntal works would also offer good stepping stones to Bach. The standard of editing is very high, there are only a few misprints and missing accidentals and these can be easily deduced from the context. These two volumes are strongly recommended.
© John Collins, Jul 2011
Back to top