Froberger: complete Fantasias and Canzonas

Charlston, T. (2020) Froberger: complete Fantasias and Canzonas. [Audio]


The fantasias and canzonas of Johann Jacob Froberger (1616–1667) are amongst his most beautifully crafted yet most neglected works. Six fantasias (FbWV 201–206) and six canzonas (FbWV 301–306) survive together with toccatas and partitas in a meticulously written autograph manuscript, the Libro Secondo, dated 19 September 1649 (A-Wn Mus.Hs.18706). Two additional fantasias (FbWV 207 and 208) are included in the recording. This corpus of fugues, like Froberger’s other contrapuntal music and keyboard music in general, have been selectively performed and recorded in recent times on organ and harpsichord, but hardly at all on the clavichord. This recording is the first complete recording of the fantasias and canzonas on the clavichord. This recording uses a reconstruction of a south German clavichord now in the Berlin Musical Instrument Museum (catalogue number MIM 2160) and was made by the Berlin instrument maker and artist Andreas Hermert in 2009. The instrument is both musically and historically apt for this music. This unique instrument creates a new and very different aural experience of Froberger’s music, and through this recording provides strong, practical evidence supporting the performance of seventeenth-century counterpoint on clavichords, and fretted clavichords in particular. The reconstruction of MIM 2160 has been arrived at by meticulous study (the original was radically altered in the 18th century or later) to achieve as sound as close to its original, 17th-century state as is reasonably possible. The reconstruction’s wide dynamic nuance and expressive range, lute-like qualities, distinct timbral changes across its compass, and greater overall clarity form strong arguments in favour of playing complex contrapuntal music on the clavichord as opposed to the ubiquitous modern-day practice of using only harpsichord and organ.

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