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Georg Böhm

The complete organ works of Georg Böhm on CD 

GEORG BÖHM (1661 - 1733) 

The year 2011 marked the 350th anniversary of the birth of Georg Böhm (166I-1733). Until today, hardly any complete recordings of Böhm's organ works have been available. Organists usually play only a small selection of his pieces. Not one autograph of the organ works has been recovered; much of his music survives in a type of harpsichord notation by copyists. 

Böhm's ideal was a large organ. From his appointment as organist of the Johanniskirche in Lüneburg, in 1698, he unfailingly endeavoured to have the Netherlands organ by Hendrick Niehoff entirely rebuilt in the Hamburg style, and in 1712 he was finally successful.
Little is known of the composer, and we must rely on external sources for information on many aspects of his music. In preparing this recording, Stef Tuinstra has attempted to find answers to many questions concerning Böhm and his music.
Georg Böhm lived and worked in a period of transition. In the first quarter of the eighteenth century, classical seventeenth-century North German and Thuringian organ and church music fell under galant influence, particularly through the introduction of Italian and French opera. This development is reflected in Böhm's music: the forms employed in his free works are much more compact than in his illustrious elder colleagues Buxtehude and Reincken. The introduction in North Germany of the Pachelbel-style chorale partita, and the chorale cycle, was also relatively recent. Both can be viewed as a sort of 'organ' cantata, featuring a range of affects. When we add to this the fusion of German-Italian and French performance practice, it is clear that an entirely new style emerged. This was the style that Handel, Telemann and Bach developed to such heights, which in turn could explain why the pioneer Böhm died in relative obscurity.

On the CD recording, Stef Tuinstra has realised a facet of Baroque performance practice that is still not widely cultivated, namely the addition of improvised elements to existing compositions. These include the use of basso continuo and other added notes to fill in chords, in keeping with the style of Böhm's cantatas. From the days of Michael Praetorius (1619), an ideal of organ playing was to imitate a complete orchestra and choir. Johann Mattheson lamented the fact that, in his time, this ideal had not been widely pursued, apparently because it was so difficult to put into practice. 

Stef Tuinstra has recorded most of Böhm's organ works in the St. Jacobikirche in Hamburg, where the four-manual instrument by Arp Schnitger (1689-1693) was restored and reconstructed around 1990 by Jürgen Ahrend. Böhm was a member of the congregation there for six years, at the time when this instrument was built. Several organ works have been recorded not only in Hamburg but also on the Hinsz organ (1731) at Zandeweer. 

Read all about the history of both instruments here: Chronicles & stoplists 

Several compositions not written for a specific type of keyboard instrument have been recorded on a harpsichord made by Christian Zell in 1728, now in the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg. 

The 3 CD-album – included an extended booklet – has been released on 15th. December 2011.
Costs € 33,95, shipping excluded (Europe € 6,80, Worldwide € 10,54).
See in the webshop top left at Organ CD’s. 

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