Photo: Carpe Diem Records
Good taste has always been important to cultured people, but never was it more vociferously espoused than in the baroque period. Johann Jacob Froberger was a wanderer, visiting the important musical capitals of his day – Rome, Dresden, Amsterdam, Paris and more – to absorb current ideas of good taste. His music reflects his experience of performances of virtuosi such as Girolamo Frescobaldi, Giacomo Carissimi, Denis Gaultier and Louis Couperin, all of whom he heard on his travels.
The most important composer of keyboard music in mid-17th century Germany, Froberger’s music contains elements of the German, French and Italian styles, and is also programmatic, dwelling on personal distress, dangerous situations, and his own awareness of mortality, though always, of course, in a very tasteful way.
In 2012, Carpe Diem Records issued a CD of suites and toccatas of Froberger performed by the Romanian harpsichordist Alina Rotaru. She plays on a Ruckers harpsichord built in 1623 and reconstructed in 1745 that may have once belonged to Marie Antoinette. Here is an excerpt from the Gigue of Suite XIX in c minor. The attentive listener will notice how the tuning of the harpsichord strongly affects the flavor of the music.