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British Clavichord Society Newsletter

David Griffel

February 2011




H. O. Zinck, Complete Keyboard Works, Vol. 1: Six sonatas from 1783, edited by Christopher Hogwood. Edition HH, No. HH 240.SOL, price £25
Joseph Haydn, Differentes Petites Pièces, edited by Christopher Hogwood. Edition HH, No. 231.SOL, price £10.95

Hardenack Otto Conrad Zinck (1746-1832) was born in Holstein and studied with C.P.E. Bach in Hamburg. These sonatas were written in Schwerin, near Hamburg, where Zinck had his first post, and published in 1783; a facsimile can be downloaded from http://imslp.org. The publication was very well received, and the long list of subscribers (from all over Germany) includes E. W. Wolf, Hassler, Türk and other clavichord composers.

In a long and enthusiastic review in the Magazin der Musik (1783), the critic C. F. Cramer noted that the sonatas are strongly influenced by C. P. E. Bach, but none the worse for that: Zinck ‘follows in [Bach’s] footsteps even as he himself follows in the footsteps of nature’. The sonatas do indeed have the energy, inventiveness, and sometimes the abruptness of C. P. E. Bach; fine music, and well suited to the clavichord. They are not easy, and Cramer approved of that: ‘nothing is more harmful ... than the perpetual obsession with being easy ... avoiding anything that requires an effort...’

In Zinck’s preface to these sonatas he says that each piece started from a certain mood, and then: ‘I tiptoed or hopped or thundered around the keyboard under the influence of that emotion’ producing the theme for the piece. Sonata 6, he says, emerged from a fit of violent anger. It is pure Sturm und Drang, an Allegro con brio followed by an Adagio con espressione, and a magnificent Presto e furioso. It is followed by a song intended as a continuation of the sonata; it depicts Cain in an agony of remorse and terror after killing Abel, and is highly melodramatic: ‘Woe! Woe! ... my brother’s blood thunders in the raging waves ... in the deepest depths of horror Cramer did not think much of the song. I agree with him.

Hogwood reproduces Zinck’s detailed dynamics, ornaments, articulation marks and fingerings quite carefully. Zincks preface and Cramer’s review are reproduced in facsimile and translated into English, and there is a valuable introduction and critical notes. It is well produced, wirebound so that it lies flat, and is an excellent start to the planned three-volume Complete Keyboard Works.


Haydn’s Differentes Petites Pièces are described on the title page of the first edition (Artaria, 1786) as faciles et agreables; they are indeed short, easy, and enjoyable. Most of the pieces are arrangements of excerpts from popular symphonies, quartets and the opera La Vera Costanza. Collections of this kind were very popular at the time and still are, as witness It’s Easy to Play Mozart(1) which includes excerpts from the Clarinet Concerto and Ave Verum Corpus. Differentes Petites Pièces costs £1 more than the It’s Easy to Play series, is an interesting historical document, and, like the Zinck, is very well edited and produced. All praise to Edition HH and Christopher Hogwood for these admirable publications.


1. In the same series as It’s Easy to Play Beethoven and It’s Easy to Play Lady Gaga (Wise Publications).

We are grateful to David Griffel
and to the editor of the British Clavichord Society Newsletter for permission to reproduce this review.
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