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Jean Kleeb: Clavicolors

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  • Artist(s): Jean Kleeb
  • Composer(s): Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg, George Frideric Handel, Jean Kleeb, Johann Sebastian Bach, John Dowland
  • EAN Code: 7.46160911786
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Instrumental
  • Instrumentation: Clavichord
  • Period: Baroque, Classical, Contemporary
  • Publication year: 2020
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Description

The CD Clavicolors tells the story of a historic Iberian clavichord built in Madrid before 1800. Feeling the keys of this clavichord, getting to know its strings, and the soundboard made of fine wood that developed through its long life, this CD is an approach to recreate the history of this instrument. Original instruments are not just museum objects, they should also be played. So we learn about the clarity and abundance of their sounds. Clavichord is a very old stringed European keyboard instrument, which was invented in the early fourteenth century. It was used until the classical era, mostly for composing or for small audiences. Clavichord is not loud and has fascinating timbres, many possibilities of articulation, and a rich dynamic spectrum among the quiet sounds, which are not playable with a piano or a harpsichord. Furthermore, it is possible to change the pitch, which gives the keyboardists new possibilities of playing. Parallel to the desire for the old sounds, there is also the search for the new ones. Some of them, perhaps not heard yet, take the listener to unique and anachronistic musical moments, through different times in the history of music, ending in Jazz, samba, and modern music. The most important impulse for me to produce this CD is the particular and wonderful sound of this Iberian clavichord. (Only two original instruments like this exist in the whole world). About the aesthetics and beauty of the clavichord, it is enough to quote what Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart wrote in 1806 in his book Ideen einer Ästhetik der Tonkunst (Ideas of a musical art aesthetic):
“The clavichord, this lonely, melancholic, and sweet instrument, when made by a master, has advantages over the grand piano and fortepiano. With the pressure of the fingers, the swinging and trembling of the strings, and the strong or soft touching of the keys, special timbres, swelling and dying of the tones, the melting trill breathing out under the fingers, and the portamento, in a word, every trait can be set, of which the feelings consist. Whoever likes his/her heart to be filled with sweet feelings instead of rambling, speeding, and storming, should forget the grand piano and fortepiano and choose a clavichord … . There are many pianists and fortepianists, but very few clavichordists.” (translation: Jean Kleeb)

This CD begins with a piece from the Buxheim Organ Book (1460/1470) Christ is risen combined with jazz. It follows a variation on the well-known secular Italian song Fortuna Desperata, a theme that has been arranged by many composers of the Renaissance era. The improvisation of Sweet love reminds us of the wonderful piece Come again by John Dowland. The Sinfonia for Clavicembalo written by the German composer from the 18th century, Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg, was specially composed for the clavichord, with the typical articulations and phrases of the classic era.
Then the journey goes to South America with samba and baião. Samba rhythms make the clavichord sound transparent and full of light; thanks to the softly articulated polyrhythm, the melody, the chords, and the bass can be heard clearly at the same time. Clavichord fits very well to the samba, imitating the guitar timbres, combined with the very staccato chords that remind us of the rhythms of the samba drums. The old temperaments and timbres of this instrument make the jazz dissonances milder.
The two pieces Changes are composed in modern style. Clavalgada explores the idea of virtuosity like “horse-riding” on the keyboard. Maeandrum develops small atonal meandering movements around the tones.
The next pieces go back to the Brazilian music: bossa nova with Toque de Bossa (feeling of bossa); Samba do Beethoven (Samba of Beethoven), a rhythmic variation on the 3rd movement of the Tempest Sonata by Beethoven; Clavaquinho, an allusion to the cavaquinho, the characteristic Brazilian samba string instrument; at the end of this part the Kyrie in bossa nova style from my Brazilian Mass (originally for soprano, choir, and band).
After the jazzy piece Jazz Courante, I play two pieces by G. F. Handel and by J. S. Bach, both Allemandes in D minor with the typical baroque articulations on the clavichord. At the end, I improvise on a Brazilian folksong of Mato Grosso (West Brazil). The CD ends with free improvisation to represent the experimental characteristic of this album and the free spirit of this instrument.

Album Notes by Jean Kleeb

Artist(s)

Jean Kleeb:

„When it comes to music, Jean Kleeb is a globetrotter. A Brazilian of Swiss and German descent, he has been living in Germany for many years. Traveling the world with his music, he is always seeking new sources of musical inspiration. As a composer, pianist, choral conductor and lecturer, he regularly amazes and entertains his audiences with his boundless musicality and compositional ease. “– Bärenreiter Edition

Jean Kleeb (1964) dedicates his versatile talents to create a dialogue between different cultures and periods. His works written for clavichord, piano, choir, and ensembles range from modern music to world music and have been published by Bärenreiter (Germany) and Helbling (Austria) Editions. He is also an excellent improviser on the clavichord and piano. He devoted himself intensively to the clavichord, discovering new timbres and articulations on this instrument.

His Brazilian Mass (Missa Brasileira), gained rapid popularity in many countries. Among his other sacred works: Magnificat and Luther, a world music oratorio. He composed many internationally acclaimed piano cycles that combine elements of jazz, classic, and world music: Beethoven goes Jazz, Beethoven around the world, Toque de Bossa, Mozart goes Jazz, Classic goes Jazz, Baila Negra, Momentos, and Jazzy Piano.

Kleeb is a musician of love and passion. He gives music workshops worldwide and tours regularly as pianist, clavichordist or with the Trio Viola da Samba (musical crossovers between Renaissance, bossa nova, and samba) with the Soprano Nadine Balbeisi and the viola da gambist Fernando Marín.

Composer(s)

(b Seehof, nr Wendemark, Brandenburg, 21 Nov 1718; d Berlin, 22 May 1795). German critic, journalist, theorist and composer. Gerber claimed that Marpurg had told him that he lived in Paris around 1746; Carl Spazier confirmed this, adding that Marpurg was friendly with Voltaire, D'Alembert and others when he was secretary to a ‘General Bodenburg’. This is generally assumed to refer to Generallieutenant Friedrich Rudolph Graf von Rothenburg, a favourite of Frederick the Great and Prussian emissary to Paris in 1744–5, and the dedicatee of Marpurg's Der critische Musicus an der Spree (1749–50).

From 1749 to 1763 Marpurg devoted himself almost exclusively to writing and editing books and periodicals about music and to composing and editing lieder and works for keyboard. In 1752, at the request of the heirs of J.S. Bach, he wrote a notable preface for a new edition of Die Kunst der Fuge. In 1755 J.G.I. Breitkopf asked him to review the first work printed with Breitkopf's improved system of movable type, and subsequently published many of his works. Their correspondence shows that this was a period of severe financial difficulties for Marpurg, as do various letters from Kirnberger to Forkel. Through Kirnberger's efforts Marpurg obtained a position in the Prussian state lottery in 1763; in 1766 he was appointed director, a post he held until the end of his life. Though there is evidence that he continued to review music and engage in other musical activities after 1763, very little appeared with his signature in his later years.

Marpurg's three periodicals, Der critische Musicus an der Spree (1749–50), Historisch-kritische Beyträge zur Aufnahme der Musik (1754–62, 1778) and Kritische Briefe über die Tonkunst (1760–64), were not only edited but also largely written by him. The intention of the first was to present discussions of the important musical topics of the day, such as the relative merits of French, Italian and German music and performance. Most of these were directed at the middle-class amateur and included several delightful satires on bourgeois musical attitudes. Marpurg also gave his readers a course in elementary music theory and translations of French essays in musical aesthetics such as Grandval's Essai sur le bon goust en musique (1732). The Historisch-kritische Beyträge were more professional in style and content than the Critischer Musicus, including reviews of books about music, short biographies of important musicians, reports on musical inventions and discussions of theoretical questions; an entire issue was devoted to tuning and temperament (1778). The last periodical, the Kritische Briefe, employed the format of a collection of letters composed on behalf of an imaginary society very much like that devised by Addison and Steele for their Spectator. The letters were addressed to various musicians and most were signed with pseudonyms, all of which seem to have represented Marpurg. The contents are similar to those of the Historisch-kritische Beyträge but also include extended polemics with Kirnberger about fugue and with Georg Andreas Sorge over the merits of Rameau's theories, a lengthy series of articles about the composition of recitative, and 59 short musical compositions by contemporaries. In 1786 Marpurg published his Legende einiger Musikheiligen consisting mainly of anecdotes about music and musicians including such contemporaries as Joseph Haydn and the Abbé Vogler. The collection is an imitation of the popular musical almanacs of Forkel and Junker.

At the beginning of his career as a music journalist Marpurg advocated the conventional view that the proper function of art was to move the audience (affective aesthetics) through the imitation of nature. Like most of his German contemporaries he derived his ideas from the works of the early 18th-century French writers on music, including Du Bos, Batteux and Bollioud-Mermet. For example, he doubted the value of purely instrumental music. In time his attitude changed; he accepted and praised modern instrumental music and the focus of his critical concern shifted from the audience to the work itself and even to the composer’s relation to the work in question. This change in critical approach is representative of a general change in the 1760s and 1770s in Germany.

Marpurg's didactic works cover keyboard performance, thoroughbass and composition. They are well organized and well written, but neither forward-looking nor original (in certain cases he admitted his debt to others). Of his theoretical treatises, the Abhandlung von der Fuge (1753–4) is the encyclopedic and authoritative discussion of fugal practice in late Baroque music. It is systematic in the tradition of Fux, though at the same time up to date in describing and discussing the tonal counterpoint of J.S. Bach, and gathers examples from works by composers from Frescobaldi to Telemann. The many quotations from Bach's music and the numerous references to him as the supreme master of counterpoint and fugue in the preface contribute to the work's historical significance. Marpurg's descriptions of small- and large-scale contrapuntal and fugal procedures, based largely on Bach's works, are forerunners of modern textbook descriptions of the classical fugue. Yet in its own day the subject of the Abhandlung was considered old-fashioned: in the preface Marpurg adopted a defensive tone, pleading that fugal technique was as necessary to the galant style as it had been to the strict, and the book underwent only one German edition and one in French (his own translation) in his lifetime. The re-publication of the work several times during the first half of the 19th century coincided with the introduction of the music of J.S. Bach to the general public by Zelter, Mendelssohn and their followers.

Marpurg's translation (1757) of D'Alembert's Elémens de musique was largely responsible for the propagation of Rameau's theories in Germany. Yet his knowledge of these ideas was defective, leaving him at a disadvantage in his controversies over them with Kirnberger and Sorge. Similarly, Marpurg's knowledge of music history was little better than that of most of his contemporaries, making his efforts in that area of little interest. But his recognition of the importance of original sources is demonstrated by his plea to the readers of his periodicals to assist Martin Gerbert in locating and describing extant medieval manuscripts.

Marpurg's compositions consist largely of strophic songs of the kind composed in north Germany in the mid-18th century. He was very active as a compiler and editor of such songs and of keyboard works suited to amateur performers. Most of his surviving compositions appear in these collections; they are competent but not outstanding. In addition he published a set of six sonatas for keyboard (c1755), a collection of fugues (1777) and two collections of chorale preludes. The sonatas are similar to those composed by C.P.E. Bach in the 1740s, the fugues are correct in detail and plan but uninteresting, and the chorale preludes are mostly routine cantus firmus treatments.

George Frideric Handel (b Halle, 23 Feb 1685; d London, 14 April 1759). English composer of German birth. Though consistently acknowledged as one of the greatest composers of his age, his reputation from his death to the early 20th century rested largely on the knowledge of a small number of orchestral works and oratorios, Messiah in particular. In fact, he contributed to every musical genre current in his time, both vocal and instrumental. The composition of operas, mainly on Italian librettos, dominated the earlier part of his career, and are the finest (though not the most typical) of their kind. In his later years his commitment to large-scale vocal works, usually with a strong dramatic element, found a more individual outlet in English oratorio, a genre that he invented and established.

Jean Kleeb

„When it comes to music, Jean Kleeb is a globetrotter. A Brazilian of Swiss and German descent, he has been living in Germany for many years. Traveling the world with his music, he is always seeking new sources of musical inspiration. As a composer, pianist, choral conductor and lecturer, he regularly amazes and entertains his audiences with his boundless musicality and compositional ease. “– Bärenreiter Edition

Jean Kleeb (1964) dedicates his versatile talents to create a dialogue between different cultures and periods. His works written for clavichord, piano, choir, and ensembles range from modern music to world music and have been published by Bärenreiter (Germany) and Helbling (Austria) Editions. He is also an excellent improviser on the clavichord and piano. He devoted himself intensively to the clavichord, discovering new timbres and articulations on this instrument.

His Brazilian Mass (Missa Brasileira), gained rapid popularity in many countries. Among his other sacred works: Magnificat and Luther, a world music oratorio. He composed many internationally acclaimed piano cycles that combine elements of jazz, classic, and world music: Beethoven goes Jazz, Beethoven around the world, Toque de Bossa, Mozart goes Jazz, Classic goes Jazz, Baila Negra, Momentos, and Jazzy Piano.

Kleeb is a musician of love and passion. He gives music workshops worldwide and tours regularly as pianist, clavichordist or with the Trio Viola da Samba (musical crossovers between Renaissance, bossa nova, and samba) with the Soprano Nadine Balbeisi and the viola da gambist Fernando Marín.

Johann Sebastian Bach: (b Eisenach, 21 March 1685, d Leipzig; 28 July 1750). Composer and organist. The most important member of the family, his genius combined outstanding performing musicianship with supreme creative powers in which forceful and original inventiveness, technical mastery and intellectual control are perfectly balanced. While it was in the former capacity, as a keyboard virtuoso, that in his lifetime he acquired an almost legendary fame, it is the latter virtues and accomplishments, as a composer, that by the end of the 18th century earned him a unique historical position. His musical language was distinctive and extraordinarily varied, drawing together and surmounting the techniques, the styles and the general achievements of his own and earlier generations and leading on to new perspectives which later ages have received and understood in a great variety of ways.

The first authentic posthumous account of his life, with a summary catalogue of his works, was put together by his son Carl Philipp Emanuel and his pupil J.F. Agricola soon after his death and certainly before March 1751 (published as Nekrolog, 1754). J.N. Forkel planned a detailed Bach biography in the early 1770s and carefully collected first-hand information on Bach, chiefly from his two eldest sons; the book appeared in 1802, by when the Bach Revival had begun and various projected collected editions of Bach’s works were underway; it continues to serve, together with the 1754 obituary and the other 18th-century documents, as the foundation of Bach biography.

John Dowland (b ?London, 1563; bur. London, 20 Feb 1626). English composer and lutenist. He was one of the finest players of his time, and while his music was soon superseded in England, it had a profound influence on the Continent, where he spent much of his career. He is now recognized as the greatest English composer of lute music and lute songs.

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