Vincent Lübeck was appointed organist at the St. Cosmae church in Stade when he was 20 years old. He then experienced the completion of the new Huss/Schnitger organ, which Arp Schnitger later added to. This CD presents Joseph Kelemen performing Vincent Lübeck’s organ works on this very same instrument, which after a series of changes was returned to its historical condition
by Jürgen Ahrend in 1975. During his time in Stade, Vincent Lübeck became a close friend of organ builder Arp Schnitger. In 1687 he inspected the famous organ at the St. Nicolai church in Hamburg, where he was later to work as organist
until his retirement in 1734.
Joseph Kelemen, who is represented on OehmsClassics with a number of highly acclaimed recordings of works by Johann Caspar Kerll and Georg Muffat, obtained his training in Budapest, Basel and Bremen and is considered to be an expert on 17th century German organ music as well as the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. An active church musician, Kelemen is organist at St. Johann Baptist in Neu-Ulm, Germany.
Vincent Lübeck (1654–1740)
Vincent Lübeck was born in 1654 – probably in Padingbüttel, in the vicinity of Bremerhaven, Germany – as the youngest child of the eponymous
organist. Lübeck’s father evidently died that same year, and the boy received organ instruction from his stepfather Caspar Förckelrath
– the only teacher he ever had. Förckelrath,
like the young Vincent’s father, held the position of organist at St. Marien’s in Flensburg
until his death in 1683.
In 1674, when Vincent Lübeck was 20 years old, he was appointed organist at St. Cosmae in Stade, where he quickly became an acknowledged
teacher and authority on the organ. In this latter capacity he came in contact with the most important organ builder of the time, Arp Schnitger (1648–1719). During the following
decades, the acquaintanceship developed into a close friendship. In a letter to an official in Zwolle, Lübeck later reports having inspected circa twenty Schnitger organs1, including important
ones such as that in St. Nicolai (1687)2 or St. Jacobi (1693)3 in Hamburg. “Lübeck and Schnitger had such a trusted relationship that Lübeck was evidently authorized to accept payments
in Schnitger’s name.”4 Schnitger himself was very pleased with Lübeck’s judgement as an organ authority.5
In 1702, Vincent Lübeck became the organist
at the St. Nicolai church in Hamburg, whose Schnitger organ he had once inspected. With 67 stops, four manuals and pedal, this organ was the largest in Hamburg – as well as in the rest of the world. It was destroyed by a fire in 1842. Lübeck remained at this post until his retirement in 1734; his son, Vincent Lübeck Jr. (1684–1755) succeeded him after his death in 1740.
The first documented record of an organ originates
from the year 1493 and refers to an instrument
built in the 13th century church Ss. Cosmae
et Damiani. Later, the best organ builders of the time, such as Hans Scherer Sr. (1591) und Hans Scherer Jr. (1635) worked on this organ.
After the destruction of the instrument in a fire in 1659, organ builder Behrendt Huss (?-1676) of Glückstadt was asked to rebuild it. He constructed an organ with three manuals and pedal between 1668 and 1675. Beginning in 1666,
Huss’s nephew Arp Schnitger was employed as a journeyman in Huss’s shop; Schnitger was highly involved in creating the organ’s sound. In particular, the organ in St. Cosmae gives us valuable insights into Schnitger’s development as an organ builder: the Hauptwerk lies on a springchest, the type of windchest typical for Huss’s day; in all other works in Stade as well as all his later organs, Schnitger uses slider chests. The Stade prospectus shows the unmistakable signature of Schnitger’s mature period. The organ
was first inspected in 1673; it seems to have been completed in 1675, which we see by the fact that payments for the instrument were made until this year.
In 1674, Vincent Lübeck became the organist
at St. Cosmae; due to his efforts, an expansion of the organ through Arp Schnitger was begun in 1688. This expansion included incorporation of the Cimbel and 16’ Trompete in the Oberwerk, the 8’ Krumphorn and the 4’ Schalmey in the Brustwerk and the 8’ Trechter
Regal in the Rückpositiv. The 16’ Trompete, which added more weight to the sound, was a particular accomplishment.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, a number of workshops (Georg Wilhelm Wilhelmy, his son Georg Wilhelm, Johann Hinrich Röver) undertook measures that changed the original
sound of the Schnitger organs. In 1917, the tin front pipes in the positive had to be removed for the war effort. The front pipes in the Rückpositiv did not meet this fate as they were hidden behind the main housing during reconstruction.
In 1975, the organ was restored by the Jürgen
Ahrend workshop (Leer-Loga) according to historical principles and rebuilt to its 1688 specifications. After extensive renovation of the church, the instrument was subjected to further restoration in 1993–94 by Jürgen Ahrend, to improve its sound yet again. Today, the Huss/Schnitger organ in St. Cosmae is considered
to be one of the most significant 17th century historic organs in Northern Germany, especially due to its eight original reeds.6
Lübeck’s organ works for St. Cosmae
Due to the many works which were plundered during the war by the former Soviet Union and which have only recently reemerged7, the selection
of pieces for this recording was an essential
question. The newly rediscovered compositions
were probably meant more for didactic
purposes, as they do not show signs of great musical imagination. Many of them are primarily
for the harpsichord, just as the pieces in the Clavier Uebung, the only collection of Lübeck’s published during his lifetime. The present recording
thus presents Lübeck’s seven preludes as well as two chorale preludes.
Another problem that arose during the recording
in St. Cosmae was the actual keys of some of the pieces (e.g. E Major), which was not possible to realize due to the organ’s meantone temperament.8 Lübeck’s 1710 discussion with organ maker Johann Heinrich Gloger, when the former inspected the Harburg instrument9, reveals
that Lübeck pleaded for a modified meantone
temperament which would enable the use of many more distant keys. The desired type of modification, however, is not further taken up in Lübeck’s report. The Baumeister organ, built in 1737 in Mahingen (Ries)10, in Southern Germany,
provides us with an eloquent example of an instrument with an originally modified meantone
temperament. This raises the question of whether modified meantone temperament may also have been present in North German organs towards the end of the 17th century – seeing as how the works of composers in that region used a much greater modulatory radius than their colleagues in the south. To realize all of Lübeck’s works on the St. Cosmae instrument, we decided – based on a widely used baroque practice – to transpose two pieces: the chorale fantasia Ich ruff zu dir Herr Jesu Christ  was transposed down one key from the original
E Minor, to D Minor, and the Praeambulum E-Dur  was transposed down to C Major.
Due to the transposition, some passages had to be shifted up or down, which in turn affected the voice-leading. These kinds of changes are often found in the baroque: the upper tones in mm. 313–314 of Johann Sebastian
Bach’s (1685–1750) Toccata in F Major, BWV 540 are written an octave lower because
the keyboard ends, so to speak, before the melody does; in the sixth verse of Matthias Weckmann’s (c.1619–1674) Es ist das Heyl uns kommen her, the soprano voice should logically go to a high d’’’ in m. 144, which Weckmann changes to a b’’ out of necessity. In Bach’s Concerto in G Major (BWV 592, mm. 25–26 of the Presto), the C#-c#° octave jump in the pedal is moved up an octave because the only organ Bach apparently had at his disposal had no low C#. But the practice of
moving notes up or down is not only found in the baroque, as we see in the soprano voice of Franz Schubert’s (1797-1828) Agnus Dei of his Mass in G Major. In the third Agnus Dei (m. 36), the soprano voice should actually go from an a’’ to a c’’’, in order to be analogous to the first Agnus Dei (m. 8). Schubert does not want to expect this of singers, however, and moves the soprano from a’’ down to c’’ in m. 36.
The galante features of some of Lübeck’s works11, such as the Praeambulum in E Major , distinguishes these clearly from works of the previous epoch. This is done justice to here by different means of ornamentation. The trills improvised by the performer (i.e. the four-three appoggiatura) do not begin on the main note – as usual in 17th century Northern German repertoire – but with the upper appoggiatura,
as in the ornamentation practice of the high baroque.
Lübeck’s use of the pedal also differs from the norms of the day: although it was often up to the 17th century performer to distribute the bass voice in the pedal or manual as desired (because no pedal instructions were given), Lübeck precisely notates where he wants pedal. Often, this usage – as in the first fugue of the Praeludium in C Major (1) – is necessary for reasons of fingering. But it is interesting to see Lübeck’s note “manuahl” – in the second fugue of this prelude, which reinforces the fact that he does not wish the pedal to be used.
It has often been assumed that Lübeck wrote his works when he was working in Hamburg.12 But the chromatic pedalboard in the organ in St. Nikolai doesn’t support this assumption, because Lübeck’s entire corpus of organ works studiously avoids the low C# and E-flat in the pedal. It is just these tones that are missing on the St. Cosmae organ. This suggests that the Huss/Schnitger organ has great significance for any authentic performance
of Lübeck’s organ works.
The works and their interpretation
This program begins with the powerful Praeludium
in C Major : a typically festive Northern
German organ prelude that commences with a thundering pedal solo. Three fugues follow – each very different from the other; the third takes up the festive character of the prelude once again.
The pedal solo is a special feature of the Northern German style; we find it in two further works on this recording: in the Preambulum in F Major  and the Praeambulum in G Major , although the Praeludium in D Minor  also includes a lengthy pedal solo after a short opening figure on the manual. As a rule, pedal solos are registrated with the Plenum, as at the beginning of this CD. Because Lübeck would not have written his works to be played one after the other (i.e. corresponding to a performance of complete works), the pedal solos here use not only the majestic Plenum sound (with reeds and mixture), but include more delicate stops as well, as in the Preambulum in F Major , registrated
using a chamber-musical sound. This prelude lives from its improvisatory temperament
and is followed by a canzona-style fugue. The 4’ Rohr Flöt of the Oberwerk underscores the playfulness of the fugue before the piece returns to the 8’ level of the beginning. 16’ stops are not used here at all.
A characteristic feature of the Praelambulum
in C Minor  is the c-C octave leap in the subject, which appears three times in m. 3 and closes the first musical idea. The passionate
prelude is emphasized by the dominance of reeds; in reference to the prelude, the fugue is registrated with the coupled reed choir. The 4’ Schalmey of the Brustwerk dominates; this is the sop that Lübeck highly valued in his organ inspection reports. The work comes to a halt shortly before it actually should end – suspended
on the dominant! This interpretation takes the liberty of adding three additional measures that return the piece back to the tonic.
The chorale prelude Nun Last uns Gott den Herren , written as a set of variations, has a pleasant character to it which is reinforced
here with such stops as a Sesquialtera (Rückpositiv,
verse 1) and a 1½’ Nassat Quint and 1’ Sedetz (Brustwerk, verse 2). In verse 4, Lübeck uses the typical Northern German echo device,
in which a rapid change between manuals
takes place. At the end of verse 6, the indication
“¾” suggests the piece’s continuation, a promise which is not kept, however. In this recording, an improvised chorale movement in ¾ time follows verse 6 to bring the series of variations to a conceivable close.
The Praeludium in G Minor , a singular work in all of the Northern German repertoire, is the central composition of this program. The solemn prelude is followed by a five-part fugue – both with double pedal. The density of Lübeck’s compositional style in this fugue is reminiscent of Bach’s six-voice chorale prelude
Aus tiefer Not schreie ich zu dir (BWV 686, also with double pedal). Only in the concluding
third fugue does Lübeck’s writing thin out somewhat. But corresponding to the seriousness
of the work, this prelude uses a 16’ registration
except for the short durezze e ligature passage (mm. 104–113), paying tribute to the extended 16’ register of the Huss/Schnitger organ, which in addition to its flues, also has two 16’ reeds in the pedal as well as one each in the Oberwerk and Rückpositiv.
The chorale fantasia is an important Northern
German contribution to organ music which was first made possible by the large Northern German organs. This shows how closely organ
composition and organ construction go hand in hand. In his only chorale fantasia Ich ruff zu dir Herr Jesu Christ , Lübeck follows
the chorale text. In addition to artfully ornamenting the chorale melody, Lübeck’s contrapuntal refinement, demonstrated by his fugal technique, strettos, and transfer of the melody to the bass, is noteworthy. The chorale melody is first given a silvery flue mixture that changes in later lines to the more powerful Sesquialtera of the Rückpositiv. The first part of the work ends in an epilog (m. 94ff) which uses the echo effects typical for chorale fantasias,
registrated here with two contrasting reeds (Trechter Regal in the Rückpositiv and Krumphorn in the Brustwerk).
In the second part (m. 107ff), the musical flow accelerates – in the pedal as well. Beginning in m. 140, we hear a slow, “wailing” chorale line, the emotional low point of the work, registrated with a Krumphorn mixture in the Brustwerk. The next part of the work (m. 201ff) – which now moves somewhat more quickly – uses the majestic 16’ register, before we reach the apotheosis characteristic for chorale fantasias. The musical weight of Lübeck’s fantasia Ich ruff zu dir Herr Jesu Christ  puts it in class with other great chorale fantasias of the epoch, including
Johann Adam Reinken’s (1640?–1722) An Wasserflüssen Babylon, Weckmann’s sixth verse from Es ist das Heyl uns kommen her and Dietrich Buxtehude’s (1637–1707) Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein (BuxWV 210).
In the Praeambulum in E Major , we find – as in the Praeludium in C Major  – a number of toccata-like passages and three subsequent fugues, although here, the opening part – in contrast to the C Major prelude – is interrupted twice by durezze e ligature passages. The power of the Rückpositiv Plenum (comprised solely of three stops), which accompanies the prelude’s introductory motoric, is striking.
The Praeambulum in G Major  begins with a pedal solo and is dominated by the bell-like Cimbel of the Oberwerk, which is normally used for solos. It is followed by two fugues separated by a short interlude (m. 67, stopped with the soft 8’ Rohr Flöt of the Rückpositiv). To represent its compositional style (consort style), the first fugue uses the identical disposition
for manual and pedal (8’ Trompete and 4’ Octav), using the 8’ Trompete to highlight the signal character of the fugue subject. The lively second fugue in 12/8 brings the piece to a cheerful conclusion.
In its bipartite structure (prelude and fugue), the Praeludium in D Minor  already corresponds to the stylized high baroque model. The toccata-like prelude is followed by one of the longest fugues in the Northern German
literature, and its subject consists of the percussive eighth-note repetitions typical for Lübeck. The strict pulse of the fugue dissolves in m. 128, leading into a virtuoso toccata-like section that leads to a highly effective finish.
Translation: Elizabeth Gahbler
1 Gustav Fock, Arp Schnitger und seine Schule, Kassel 1974, p. 248.
2 Fock, op.cit., pp. 50–51.
3 Wolfram Syré, Vincent Lübeck. Leben und Werk, Europäische Hochschulschriften, Reihe XXXVI Bd. 205, Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt 2000, p. 37.
4 Syré, op.cit., p. 87.
5 “Vincent Lübecken Organist bey der St: Nicolaj Kirchen Hamburg, der hat albereits über 20 und Mehr große wercke, und zwar die Größte in Teutschlandt, Geexaminiret und probiret der verstehet die Sache recht auß dem grunde.” Letter by Arp Schnitger to an official of the city of Tangermünde, quoted in Syré, op. cit., p. 386.
6 A thorough documentation of the organ can be found in: Martin Böcker & Peter Golon, Die Orgel-Stadt Stade, Orgelakademie Stade Bd. 1, 2004, pp. 49–57.
7 Published with commentary – together with the works found on this recording – in: Vincent Lübeck, Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Orgel- und Clavierwerke, Bärenreiter, Kassel 2003, publ. Siegbert Rampe.
8 For information on the problematic, see Harald Vogel, Mitteltönig – Wohltemperiert. Der Wandel der Stimmungsästhetik im norddeutschen Orgelbau
und Orgelrepertoire des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts,
in: Jahrbuch Alte Musik, Bd. l, publ. Thomas Albert & Gisela Jaacks, Wilhelmshaven 1989, pp. 119–151.; Siegbert Rampe, Abendmusik oder Gottesdienst?, Manuskript aus Schütz-Jahrbuch 27 (2005), Bärenreiter Kassel.
9 Liselotte Seile, Die Orgelbauerfamilie Gloger (1), Acta organologica, Bd, 4, Berlin 1970, pp. 92–95.
10 Klemens Schnorr, Musikalische Temperierung als Restaurierungsgegenstand, in: Die Barockorgel der Maihinger Klosterkirche, publ. Dr. Michael Petzet, München 1991, p. 108.
11 “Seine Musik…, die sich durch Noblesse und Eleganz auszeichnet”. Syré, op.cit., p. 129.
12 Syré, op.cit., p. 156ff.