Aude Heurtematte plays the organ built in 1981 by Jürgen Ahrend at the
former monastery church of the Augustinians (a museum since the early
19th century) in Toulouse, France. In early north German baroque style, the organ is ideal for the works of Sweelinck and Scheidt. As well, the organ is one of only two built in France by the famous and well-respected German organbuilder, Ahrend.
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1552-1621):
Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr
Onder een linde groen
Fantasia No. 4
Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654):
Cantio Sacra "Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz"
Variationen über eine Gagliarda von John Dowland
Magnificat IX toni
Modus ludendi pleno organo pedaliter
The Organ and the Building
The famous restorer and builder of organs in the North German/Dutch baroque style, Jürgen Ahrend (born 28 April 1930 in Treuenhagen near Göttingen, Germany), built in 1981 the organ heard on this CD, recorded by Aude Heurtematte just 10 years after the organ was built. Released in 1994, the CD received the Grand Prix du Disque.
Ahrend’s reputation was established by his mechanical and tonal success in restoring or reconstructing important baroque organs, including at least five built by Arp Schnitger (1648-1719), as well as building new organs. Ahrend founded his firm at age 24 in 1954 with Gerhard Brunzema (1927–1992) in Leer-Loga, Germany (East Friesland), where many significant, extant Baroque organs were available for study. Before Brunzema left in 1971 to work in Canada, the firm had built or restored 74 organs. Between 1972 and 2004, Jürgen Ahrend and his employees built, reconstructed or restored 90 more organs, earning worldwide accolades.
Ahrend built only two organs in France: the first in 1974 for the religious community in Taizé (the organ was relocated ca. 1980 to the cathedral in Lyon); the second organ, recorded on this CD, was created in 1981 for the Toulouse convent church built by the Augustinian Hermits and consecrated in 1504 to replace one destroyed by fire in 1463 (it dated from the 13th century). Following the French Revolution (1787-1799), the state took ownership of the monastery and its buildings became a museum early in the 19th century. Since its creation, the museum has housed a large collection of Roman sculptures, Gothic remnants from 12th-century cloisters destoyed during the Revolution and thereafter, and 14th- to 19th-century paintings.
Impetus to build the organ in the museum/ former monastery church was initiated by Xavier Darasse (1934-1992), who had been appointed professor of organ at the Toulouse Conservatory in 1965. The project was embraced by Denis Milhaud, chief curator of the museum, and Pierre Baudis, the mayor of Toulouse. The organ is designed to render music of the Dutch and German Baroque, primarily. The organ case, built by Ahrend’s firm, was decorated by Pierre Bellin.
Jürgen Ahrend organ, 1981
Museum in the former Convent Church of the Augustinians, Toulouse, France
3 manuals, pedal, 33 stops, 46 ranks, 54-note manuals, 30-note pedal
I. Rückpositiv, C–f3
II. Hauptwerk, C–f3
Mixtur IV–VI, 1
III. Brustwerk, C–f3
Mixtur IV 2’
HW / Ped
Temperament after Werckmeister III, modified by Jürgen Ahrend
Wind Pressure: 77 mm (3 inches)
Sweelinck and Scheidt Music for the Organ
Acknowledged in his own time as a maker of organists, Sweelinck is nowadays considered to be the father not only of several generations of German composers but also of a new era in musical thought that was emerging at the dawn of modem times. There is, however, something paradoxical to this. First, although he was born a Roman Catholic, the young organist of the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam became a Calvinist at the age of sixteen when the Low Countries embraced the Reformation (1578). Each denomination had its own musical practices, and the Calvinists required only hymns with a plain organ accompaniment. Nevertheless, the man who was to become the “Orpheus of Amsterdam” and the “Prince of Musicians,” as he was called, was employed by the town of Amsterdam to give daily concerts of sacred music (as opposed to music for religious services). Moreover, although he was a man of settled habits (he remained faithful to his post as organist for 44 years) he was familiar with every musical innovation that came into being throughout Europe. He was acquainted with Bull and the English virginalists, with Gabrieli as well as Cabezón, and he took great advantage of their music, even though he did not emulate their taste for the merely agreeable or for sheer brilliance. The Dutch composer also had a definite influence in Germanic countries and among Lutheran circles. Indeed, his numerous pupils who came to work with him as houseguests had North and Central German origins. Foremost among them was Samuel Scheidt.
Only hand-written copies of Sweelinck’s known works are extant, and it is likely that they form only a small part of his total production. There are about seventy pieces for keyboard in all, including pieces in “free” style (fantasias and toccatas) and variations (on hymn tunes or song and dance tunes). Those without obbligato pedal parts are playable interchangeably on the organ, virginal or harpsichord. There is, however, a common denominator, and though large in scope and diverse in their forms, these pieces draw their unity from a single founding principle: a subject enhanced by a strict but varied rhythmic and contrapuntal development. The fugue is foreshadowed here as well as the forms that were the basis of 17th-century music, accurately reflected in the selections on this recording.
Samuel Scheidt spent the greatest part of affliction-ridden life, thwarted as it was by the terrible storm of the Thirty Years War, in Halle in the very heart of Saxony. Nevertheless, like his Saxon contemporaries Schütz and Schein, the hardness of the times did not prevent him from leading an active life as a Kapellmeister, concert organizer, organist and composer. He won early fame through the publication of numerous collections of vocal music, but his influence in the field of organ music was due to his colossal collection in three parts which he published in Hamburg in 1624 under the title Tabulatura Nova, thus pointing out that he had adopted the system of writing on five-line staves, which was an innovation in Germany.
1624 is a key date in the history of music. In the space of a few years, a whole generation of composers died (Sweelinck, M. Praetorius, Gibbons, Cornet and Bull) and at the same time the collections of music which were to be the foundations of the new European school of keyboard music were being published in Portugal (Rodrigues Coelho’s Flores de musica in 1620), in France (Titelouze’s Hymnes in 1623), in ltaly (Frescobaldi’s Capricci in 1624 and 1627) and in Spain (Correa de Arauxo’s Facultad organica, in 1626). In Germany, Scheidt collected the largest corpus of the whole century in his Tabulatura Nova of 800 pages. It contains 59 pieces including variations, fantasias, verses on chorale tunes and on the Magnficat, revealing what he owed to the years he had spent as a pupil of Sweelinck. Like his master, he favored the unifying principle which gives coherence to his grand musical developments. However, in his German chorales in particular, unlike Sweelinck the concert organist, Scheidt, the liturgical organist, was concerned with maintaining the hymn tune in its original linear form and setting it in tight contrapuntal material. He rejected the enchanting colours that his Mediterranean and English contemporaries revelled in, and marked all German music to come with the seal of gravity.
— Gilles Cantagrel, Translated by François Heurtematte
Aude Heurtematte is titulaire (holder of the post of organist) of the Church of Saint-Gervais in Paris where eight generations of the Couperin family preceded her as titulaire and played all or parts of the same organ she plays. The organ is essentially intact as completed with five manuals in 1768 by François-Henri Clicquot. It contains tonal material dating to the two-manual organ built in 1601 by Matthijs Langhedul, the 1628 enlargement of it to three manuals by Pierre Pescheur, and the further enlargement of 1676-1714 by Alexandre and François Thierry. Her recording of François Couperin’s Masses for the Convents and for the Parishes on this organ (Raven OAR-153), composed ca. 1690 while he was titulaire of Saint-Gervais, receives superlative reviews from all who hear it as well as the music press.