Vincent Lubeck
Complete works for Keyboard, volume 1
Review by John Collins

Vincent Lübeck. Complete Organ and keyboard works vol I. Edited by Siegbert Rampe. Bärenreiter Urtext BA 8449.

The long-lived Vincent Lübeck (1654-1740) was highly regarded in his day, becoming organist at St Nicholas Hamburg in 1702, the post passing upon his death to his son also named Vincent. Siegbert Rampe has collected all the known works by the two Vincents for publication in two volumes. This first volume includes obligato pedal pieces intended primarily for organ, (3 Praeludia in C, C minor and D minor and a lengthy chorale fantasia on Ich ruf zu Dir) although of course those who are fortunate enough to own a pedal clavichord will enjoy the challenges posed by the multi-section Praeludia.

Of far greater interest to other clavichordists will be the set of 45 pieces included in the MS SMG 1691 finally published here for the first time. This collection of mainly short pieces contains primarily dances (several in Da Capo form) and aria settings, comparable to the Anna Magdalena Bach notebook in its extent. Most of the pieces are anonymous, but a few are ascribed to the two Lübecks, of which the most substantial are a Prelude and Ciaconne with 12 variations (the last containing almost exclusively written out trills commencing on the main note) which display much compositional variety, and a suite in A minor which contains the normal 4 movements, the Allemande and Courante containing unusual harmonic progressions. The Gigue is homophonic, and far less demanding than the complex examples of Reincken and Buxtehude. Two variations on Folie d’Espagne are quietly attractive whilst dynamic markings of f and p in the Air no. 23 and Menuet no. 43 may well imply that the collection was indeed intended for clavichord. An interesting comment in the introduction informs us that clavichords in Hamburg c 1700 cost only 10-15% of the price of a harpsichord! The pieces were clearly intended for amateurs, and, , may well have been used for teaching; they would fulfil this function admirably today, providing many examples to illustrate technical points. Their charm and simple yet melodic inventiveness also makes them a pleasure to play. It is a great pity that no further examples of keyboard suites by the Lübecks outside of the one in this collection and the one published by the father in 1728 have come to light.

The scholarly introduction contains a full discussion and description of the sources as well as performance practice including ornamentation, the trill in Hamburg c1710 apparently still commencing with the main note, the upper auxiliary being indicated by an appoggiatura. Siegbert Rampe continues to offer scholarly texts of the highest quality and this particular example should be a welcome addition to the library of teachers and players.

© John Collins

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