Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

Onder een linde groen (Unter der Linden grüne), variations for keyboard (2 versions). SwWV 325

    Description by Timothy Dickey

    Though his righteous Protestant employers, the town council of Reformation Amsterdam, might shudder at the comparison, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck's musical job resembled that of a lounge pianist in our own day. The town engaged him to improvise keyboard music at specified times every day, for a public that could file in and out at will and conduct their own business. He could improvise music based upon free flights of his own imagination or upon popular songs of the day, and even upon classical or religious pieces; he needed to show off his musical prowess while keeping the underlying melody audibly present. He did need to perform this concert of music in the Cathedral. It did not stop him, apparently, from executing lush arrangements of popular love songs, such as his surviving set of four variations on the tune of Unter der Linden grüne (Oner een linde groen).

    The clear and repetitive phrase structure of Sweelinck's model song allows for quite a bit of elegant ornamentation, even in the first variation. Each half of the song repeats, and already in the first time through the keyboard artist varies his material a bit in those repeats: he adds fluid passing notes to the repeat of the first half, and a stark set of repeated chords to each iteration of the upwards melodic sequence just before the close. The light two-voiced imitation with which the second variation begins sets the tone, and throughout the variation the listener must pay attention to where melodic fragments next appear. Several such imitative motives stand out by their striking rhythmic character; at least once the emphasis on imitation even leads Sweelinck into chromatic notes that would have been extremely colorful in the tuning of his day. The bass voice closes this variation with a flood of quicker notes, setting the pace for the third variation, which proceeds in nearly relentless motor rhythms. The fourth and final variation becomes a catalog of contrapuntal devices, flitting between parallel and contrary motion, insistent rhythmic motives, and more fluid elaborations, syncopations, arpeggiations, and imitations. Sweelinck makes like Art Tatum.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2015 Glossa GCD 922410
    2015 Priory Records PRCD 1130
    2014 Ayros AYR 3013
    2013 Oehms Classics OC 846
    2012 Brilliant Classics 94313
    2012 Globe GLO 5253
    2010 Carpe Diem / Carpe Diem 16281
    2009 Chandos 0758
    2008 Loft Recordings 1105
    2008 Naxos 8558118
    2008 Loft Recordings / Loft Recordings 1106
    2008 Linn Records 310
    2007 Bridge 9216
    2007 Argo 4144962
    2007 Organ Historical Society 2
    2006 Globe 6013
    2006 Aeolus Music 10201
    2005 MDG 3411256
    2005 NM Classics 92119
    2005 Hungaroton 32382
    2004 Naxos 8557218
    2003 Hyperion 67421/2
    2003 NM Classics 92119
    2002 Priory Records 689
    2001 Tactus 510002
    2001 Pro Organo 7082
    1998 Columbia River Entertainment Group 1170
    1996 Urtext 2003
    1996 Globe 6035
    1996 Berlin Classics 0031682
    1995 K 617 7048
    1995 Naxos 550904
    Calig 50966