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Playing Georg Muffat by Dr. Wolfram Syré

2018-10-05 - Playing and Pieces

Playing Georg Muffat

Georg Muffat was born in 1653 at Megève (Savoyen). He studied in Paris (1663-1669) and in Rome (1680) with Bernardo Pasquini. Among his friends were Jean-Baptiste, Lully, Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber and Arcangelo Corelli. I suppose that Muffat knew the organ compositions of Nicolas Le Bègue. Muffat was cathedral organist in Salzburg, and later "Capellmeister" in Passau. He died in 1704 at Passau.
He published in 1690 a collection of organ pieces which he called "Apparatus musico-organisticus" (twelf Toccatas,  Ciacona, Passacaglia). This book has a strong relationship to Girolamo Frescobaldi's two books of Toccatas. Muffat's way of handling the organ follows Italian and South German traditions, but his style of composition is a mixture of French and Italian elements. Muffat's Toccatas are Suites containing very different movements. He was a genious in finding musical forms, performing themes and using harmonies. Many organists of the Baroque period knew his music and estimated it.

Toccata Prima
This piece is not the best of Muffat's Toccatas. It is in a way an experiment to try composing a Toccata. The opening follows the pattern of "Durezze e ligature". After that we find many ideas from a French Dialogue. Two short interludes follow a Prologue and a virtuos Fugato. The harmonies and the ornaments are French, but we find at the end of the piece also an Italian Ribatutta.

Toccata Secunda
The opening is very close to Frescobaldi's Toccata Seconda from "Il Secondo Libro di Toccate". After that becomes the piece a little more French and ends with a Dialogue.

Toccata Tertia
The most remarkable items are here an episode in the Lombardic rhythm and the Ribatuttas at the end of the piece.

Toccata Quarta
The ornaments are French and we find here also a "Port de voix". The Ricercare at the final is a very fine and melancholic movement.

Toccata Quinta
This piece is very French. Muffat performes here structures on one Manual which the French organists played on two or more Manuals.

Toccata Sexta
This Toccata opens the serie of Muffats master pieces. The Prologue is a large section in the "Durezze-e-ligature"-style. It is followed by an Italian "Canzona alla francese". The next movemnt - one of Muffat's best - is an Elevazione "sopra i Pedali" with Ribatuttas; its form is a Dialogue - a splendid mixture of French an Italian elements. The answer to it is another Dialogue with further "Points d'Orgue". The final is a Gigue with many hemioles and a short Toccata conclusion.

Toccata Septima
We start here with a French Overture. After two Dialogues with flutes follows an Elevazione. The next complex of Fugues starts with a Ricercare of two sections, the first on a chromatic theme, second on another theme with the ornament Accicatura. The next and last Triple-Fugue performes at the end also the two themes from before.

Toccata Octava
The "Durezze-e-ligature"-Prologue is succeded by a movement with a Cu=Cu-theme which is combinated with chromatic notes. Muffat used here sometimes the French ornament "Tierce coulée". We find here and in the following movements many parallels to Johann Capar Kerll's music (Capriccio Cu=Cu and Toccata in C "Tutta de Salti"). The piece is in the same way difficult to play as Frecobaldi's Toccata Nona from "Il Secondo Libro di Toccate". Also Muffat's remark at the end of the piece "Dii laboribus omnia vendunt" is simular to Frecobaldi's remark at the end of his piece.

Toccata Nona
The piece starts with a Dialogue and a Fugue followed by an Elevazione. After that we have two Perpetuum-mobile movements, a "Dialogue des Flûtes" and a Fugue. Which I said before about the relationship to Frescobaldi's Toccata Nona can we also find here even Muffat wrote no remark to this piece.

Toccata Decima
The Toccata begins with a French Overture à Nicolas Le Bègue which includes a midlle part in forme of a "Canzona alla francese". After that follows a Gigue which changes to a movement in Tempus imperfectum. Muffat has here negelected the normal development from Tempus Imperfectum to Tempus Perfectum. After a short Elevazione-section we find a virtuos Dialogue as final.

Toccata Undecima
Now becomes it very French: A Prélude and a Dubble-Fugue. Next comes a beautiful Adagio "des Flûtes". The next Dubble-Fugue is written in Tempo Rubato. The last Fugue ends with a "Piont d'Orgue" with "Durezze-e-ligature"-elements.

Toccata Duodecima
Another very virtuos composition which has not so much new specials of style  except the final Gigue which gets the piece disappear on one note.

Ciacona & Passacaglia
With this couple of compositions shows Muffat again that he is able to write in the Italian and in the French style. The Ciacona follows the Italian forme. The profile of the piece is Pachelbel-like, but the style (rhythm and ornaments, e. g. Port de voix) is French. The Passacaglia has a more Italian or South German rhythm, the harmonies and accents are those of a Sarabande, the ornaments are French and the forme is a French "Passacaille en rondeau". At the end of the Passacaglia writes Muffat "Summa Deo gloria".

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