Hexachordum Apollinis

Organ solo recital


Friday 30 August at 7pm


‘Hexachordum Apollinis’ is the title of a collection of keyboard music by Johann Pachelbel, published on 1699 and dedicated to two of the most important German masters of the organ: Dieterich Buxtehude (for the Northern school) and Franz Xaver Richter (for the Southest school).


The master of the Central school, Pachelbel, was recognised by his colleagues as one of the most influential composers of organ music of his time. Actually, all of them were deeply influenced by the style of Frescobaldi (1583–1643), with whom they were all related in a one way or another. Froberger was his direct pupil in Rome, while Kerll studied his works through his master Carissimi and Buxtehude was a pupil of Tunder, a direct pupil of Frescobaldi in Florence.


Pachelbel seems to be in an interesting position to be equally distant from all his colleagues, he tried to operate a sort of synthesis of all the styles he knew and studied. This is, perhaps, the reason why his style is less personalised, but is more flexible and open to the most different influences – a feature that will be extremely important in the first half of the 18th century, when the ideal of “goûts réunis” or mixing the styles in the unique European Baroque Style, would become the artistic solution after many years of studies and research.


The program shows all forms of organ music manualiter (i.e. to be played on the keyboard only, without the pedals) of the second half of the 17th century. This fits perfectly for the small, but beautiful instrument of Kretinga. 


The Toccata is, of course, the most important of these forms and the richest in legacy and influences. Its name derives from the Italian word toccare (to touch but also to play) and there are different types of it: the introductory toccata, the multi-sectional toccata, the chromatic toccata devoted to the liturgical moment of the Elevatione, and so on. 


The Battaglia could be considered as a very special form of Toccata, even if less rigorous and more freely conceived. The eternal fight between Good and Evil is symbolically represented in this piece.


Then we find pieces inspired by the art of counterpoint, like Ricercare and Canzona, more meditative the first, more lively the second. In both cases the main subject is treated with all resources of fugal writing and developed through an organic process, showing the inner possibilities of the theme.


The art of variation is well represented by Kerll’s virtuosic Passacaglia and Pachelbel’s more melancholic Ciaccona, both of them based on the continuous repetition of a descending four-notes-pattern (tetracordo ostinato) in the bass line. 


In conclusion, we have to mention the three compositions most strictly devoted to the liturgy of Mass and Vespers, both in the Catholic as well as in the Protestant churches. The plainchant of the Magnificat was a common feature in both cases, while the preludes to the chorales Warum betrübst du dich mein Herz and Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren were typical for the Lutheran liturgy.


Luca Guglielmi




Johann Jacob Froberger (1616–1667)

Toccata II in d (Libro II)
Ricercar I in d (Libro IV)
Toccata VI in g da sonarsi alla Levatione (Libro II)
Capriccio II in g (Libro IV)

Johann Caspar Kerll (1627–1693)
Battaglia in C
Toccata in e Cromatica con durezze e ligature
Canzona IV in e
Passacaglia in d

Johann Pachelbel (1653–1706)
Toccata in g
Warum betrübst du dich mein Herz
Ricercare in g (orig. fis)
Ciacona in g (orig. g)

Dieterich Buxtehude (1637–1707)
Toccata in G BuxWV 164
Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren BuxWV 215
Magnificat noni toni BuxWV 205
Canzona in C BuxWV 166


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