John Barnett

Sweelinck: Complete Harpsichord and Organ Music – Keyboard CD review

1:25, 1st July 2020

Sweelinck: Complete Harpsichord and Organ Music

Daniele Boccaccio on organs by Anon. (c.1550), Scherer (1612/13), and Schnitger (1678); harpsichord by Sebastiano Cali (2017, after Couchet 1679)

Brilliant Classics 95643 (6CDs) [68:16; 63:49; 62:38; 67:44; 63:13; 63:46]


This is an outstanding release of music by one of the most famous late 16th-/early 17th-century organist-composers. Sweelinck’s keyboard music is generally only known by a few works, so to have this complete overview from a player of such ability and understanding, on four superb and appropriate instruments is a real pleasure. Daniele Boccaccio has a natural affinity with this music, an understanding of the musical and technical demands, and uses predominantly early fingering, which matches the figurations in this music so well. The three organs are perfect for this repertoire, with all the variety of colour that Sweelinck would have had at his command in Amsterdam, and all the instruments tuned to meantone, which is so important for the harmonic colour of the music. The very first work in this set illustrates this perfectly, the Fantasia Crommatica giving an immediate sense of the differently-sized semitones in the descending scale. This complex work is brilliantly executed, a standard of performance which is maintained throughout this set …


The full review will appear in Choir & Organ‘s September/October edition.

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