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WORKSHOP #8: "Lübeck, Whobeck?"

If you've never played anything by Vincent Lübeck, you're missing out. Lübeck was a contemporary of Bach although 31 years his senior (1654-1740). Lesser-known these days, he was supposedly one of the most prolific composers for organ. Unfortunately, only a handful of his compositions have survived. While not as melodic or harmonically complex as Bach's, Lübeck's works have an energy all their own and serve equally well for recitals and church services. In fact, two that I play rather regularly I played this morning. I played the G Minor Prelude and Fugue as a prelude:

(click link for mp3 file):
http://artists.mp3s.com/artist_song/2898/2898058.html

and the F Major Prelude and Fugue as a postlude:

(click link for mp3 file):
http://artists.mp3s.com/artist_song/1225/1225035.html

I find Lübeck's preludes and fugues especially useful for services because they are generally made up of at least 4 sections, 1-3 minutes in length. I can use isolated sections from among the different pieces for any part of the service and, like Bach's work, they react well to various registration treatments from pp to ff. As an example, for the collection this morning I selected a fugal section from the C Major Prelude and Fugue but could have easily used it as a short prelude or postlude. For identification purposes, the C Major begins like this:

and the fugal section I used from it begins like this:

I ignore the suggested tempo of "half note=76" and instead go for a more stately "quarter note=92." The piece is mostly quarter notes in four voices so at that tempo it's not terribly difficult. Time wise, it comes in at around 2:15. Like most early fugues, it rarely strays beyond restating the subject in the tonic and minor (sometimes major) dominant keys. Still the piece has a momentum that's quite fun.

All of Lübeck's extant works can be found in a single volume. Aside from the pieces I've mentioned there are three other preludes and fugues, as well as three chorale preludes.
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