Harmonische Seelenlust 1722
In 1725 Johann Mattheson’review Critica Musica carried an announcement for a treatise by Kauffmann (never printed and since lost) with the title Introduzione alla musica antica et moderna, das ist: Eine ausführliche Einleitung zur alten und neuen Wissenschaft der edlen Music, in which there would be a exposition of the “general and special rules of composition in the old and new style”.
The coexistence of pieces, whose writing go back to the austerity of the late rinascimentale countrapuntal (old style), and of others, with a light and mostly melodic plot, scatter with galant gestures, such as sighing or triplets figures (“neue Gusto”), is a characteristic of the serial publication (the lasts posthumous) that, from 1733 on, would have constituted the Harmonische Seelenlust, Präludien über den bekanntensten Corallieder, i.e. the first collection of chorale preludes for organ to appear in print since Scheidt’s Tabulatura nova of 1624.
The same distinction between old and new in the work’s preface. By describing the content and the style, Kauffmann speaks from “short, but elaborated with particular invention and pleasing style” pieces, in which two kind of contrapuntal can be identified “Factus&floridus”. The first one tends to be something serious, but lively, while the second one tends to be exuberant but not wild.
The influence of the so-called “galant” style, light and pleasant, characterised by the search of “préciosité” is obvious. The taste of the “galanterie”, which was clearly imported from France, permeated since some decades the customs of certain classes of the German society. Already in 1687 in fact, Christian Thomasius, law professor at the Lepzig university, deplored the fact that the word “galant” was improperly used in order to describe dogs, cats, slippers, tables and chairs.
Amongst the 98 chorales preludes of the collection they are represented every type, including duets, fughettas and a variety of cantus firmus settings.
In some of them the chorale melody has to be “played à part on the oboe”. According to the work’s preface, this was the “most appreciated and the most fashionable way at the Mersenburg court Chapel”. The mix of the two sounds turns out to be especially happy if, following Kauffmann’s performance directions, the “oboe is placed in order to give the impression that it is a organ’s stop”.
Kauffmann’s collection furnished to the performer unusually careful performance directions: ornaments, tempo markings and, above all, detailed and original suggestions for registration, often aiming to imitate orchestral sounds.
Registrations of the Harmonische Seelenlust are based on Kauffmann’s strument in Mersenburg, which was constructed by Zacharias Thyssner. Today the appearance of this instrument is completely transformed. However, the extraordinary organ of Grauhof used in this recording has allows us recreating Kauffmann’s colourful palette, following his recommendation that “(the registration) is fixed according to the own instrument with Judicium, so that other registers can be experimented, while the specified registers will serve from examples”.
Maurizio Croci, all’organo Treutmann (1737) della Stiftskirche di Grauhof (D)
Kerstin Kramp, oboe
CD STRADIVARIUS STR 33704