Benedict Schultheiss Keyboard Music

Benedict Schultheiss (c1653-1693) spent his life in Nuremberg. He published two volumes of keyboard music in 1679 and 1680. Schultheiss himself etched the music on copper plates.

Richard Hudson has edited these pieces in the CEKM series, volume 21. He says "I have prepared the present volume with the feeling that his works are significant not inly in the history of the German keyboard suite, but also as pieces of music that can still give pleasure to the performer and listener today".

The pieces make up the earliest published German keyboard suites; there are eight of them. Apel does not appear to be over-impressed. He says that they are fairly average for the time, similar to the level of suites by Buxtehude, Bohm, Krieger or Pachelbel. "To hear something really fine we have to turn to France - to d'Anglebert, or wait for Bach".

The pieces were for clavichord or harpsichord. As for playing them on the piano, I don't agree with Apel. It's fine music, and the suites transfer successfully and fit under the hands well. There are a few places where the tonality seems a little uncertain and the return to the home key is rather abrupt, but the problem disappears by altering an occasional accidental.

The most noteworthy feature of the suites is the variety shown by the gigues, which have unusual time signatures and figurations. No trace here of the commonplace 6/8 movements used by so many later writers to get their suites finished. It's a pleasure to work at these and get them right.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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