Sons of the organist Isaak Hassler, Hans Leo and Jacob Hassler were born in Nuremberg, where they received their initial musical training from their father. Both went to study in Italy, we know that Andrea Gabrieli would become Hans Leo's teacher. On returning, they entered the service of the Fugger family in Augsburg. Later on, Hans Leo became Kapellmeister to the Prince Elector of Saxony Christian II, and Jacob was appointed chamber organist at the Court chapel of Emperor Rudolph II in Prague.
This CD presents six of the extant keyboard compositions by Jacob Hassler as well as Hans Leo Hassler's Variations on Ich gieng einmal spatieren — a remarkable piece which comes close to Bach's Goldberg variations, regarding its extent and diversity.
The Fugger family owned several instruments by Franciscus Patavinus, superbly worked, decorated with gold and ivory ornamentation, and with a broad, full sound. It is more than probable that both Hans Leo and Jacob Hassler played these instruments while in the service of the Fuggers in Augsburg. For this reason the Patavinus harpsichord, part of the collection of the Deutsches Museum in Munich since 1910, was used for the present recording. It closely resembles an instrument listed in the Fuggers' inventory, and could actually be the one described. The original signature on the name board, according to the purchase documents, was »Francisci Patavini Dicti Ongaro, 1561«, making it one of the few surviving harpsichords from the 16th century. The magnificent instrument is largely in its original state.
LÉON BERBEN was born in 1970 in Heerlen, The Netherlands. He studied organ and harpsichord in The Hague and Amsterdam with Ton Koopman, Bob van Asperen, Rienk Jiskoot and Gustav Leonhardt. Since March 2000 he has been solo and continuo harpsichordist of Musica Antiqua Köln (Reinhard Goebel), with whom he has performed all over Europe, North and South America, and Asia. Before he became a regular member of Musica Antiqua Köln, he performed with theAmsterdam Baroque Orchestra, the Freiburger Barockorchester, and Musica ad Rhenum. As harpsichord soloist, and particularly as organist, he plays almost exclusively on historic instruments. He has made several recordings for Deutsche Grammophon / Archiv with Musica Antiqua Köln, and his solo CDs have received many prizes from, among others, Le Monde de la Musique, Diapason, and the Deutsche Schallplattenkritik (trimestral prize in 2004).