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Dieterich BUXTEHUDE (c.1637-1707)
Organ Music Vol. 7

Praeambulum in A minor, BuxWV 158 [05:37]
Praeludium in C major, BuxWV 138 [05:03]
Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ, Fantasia, BuxWV 188 [10:13]
Canzona in G minor, BuxWV 173  [2:31]
Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren, BuxWV 214 [03:59]
Canzonetta in C major, BuxWV 167 [1:34]
Aria with 3 variations in A minor, BuxWV 249 [6:39]
Ich dank dir schon durch deinen Sohn, BuxWV 195  [6:13]
Courant zimble with 8 variations, BuxWV 245 [10:18]
Praeludium in F major, BuxWV 144 [4:00]
Praeludium in B flat major (fragment), BuxWV 154 [1:44]
Canzona in G major, BuxWV 170 [4:28]
Praeludium in G minor, BuxWV 163 [10:14] 
Julia Brown (organ)
rec. St Cecilia Cathedral, Omaha, Nebraska, USA, 18-20 September 2006. DDD
NAXOS 8.570312 [72:33]

Experience Classicsonline


Julia Brown continues the Naxos Buxtehude series with this new volume, once again recorded on Martin Pasi’s remarkable dual-temperament instrument at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Cecilia in Omaha, Nebraska.

I have to say that I have warmed to Brown’s Buxtehude playing since her first volume, featuring the Brombaugh organ in Eugene, where the playing didn’t entirely convince me. Here I find her feeling for affect (rhetorically conceived), rhythmic freedoms, beautiful touch and exquisite attention to details of articulation highly beautiful. Once again, though, I am left bemused by certain registration choices. The prominent quint in the second fugue of BuxWV 158, (is it really just 8’and 3’?) and the gap registration with the sesquialtera (again no 4’ I think) at the beginning of ‘Gelobet seist du’ are, in my opinion, really wrong. The unusual registrations employed in the Canzonas are perhaps less clear cut. The relationship between registration and affect is always subjective, and, looking at it from that point of view, I can understand the use of the Praestant 8’ with tremulant in BuxWV 173, and even the trumpet registration in BuxWV 167. The Italianate stylistic roots of such compositions have led to the use of the 4’ flute becoming almost cliché after all, (it makes its ‘expected’ appearance in BuxWV 170). The aforementioned registration in BuxWV 173 seems, naturally, more appropriate for durezze e ligature than for a canzona. But, perhaps most importantly, Brown’s way of playing in both these pieces is intelligently ‘keyed in’ to the registration she chooses.

The disc also features two lengthy sets of variations which are obviously harpsichord pieces. It seems curious to include them, but Brown uses them to show off the organ and the experience is far from unpleasant. BuxWV 163 is also a harpsichord piece, I think, but is more often played on the organ.

The star, of course, is the organ itself. I have written here before about my growing fascination for this instrument, it is surely among the finest modern organs in the world. The opening bars of the disc, played on a sole 8’ Praestant leads the listener to a sound world which could literally belong to any of the great surviving Northern European masterpieces of the 17th and early 18th centuries. The reeds are astoundingly beautiful. Both the meantone and ‘well’ temperaments are employed on the disc. I am in awe of such an obviously modern instrument (in conception at least) with such an immense expressive potential. Can anyone in Europe claim anything similar?

Whatever my subjective feelings about some of Brown’s musical choices, I can’t help admitting that I have enjoyed her recent discs more than any of the other new Buxtehude recordings to emerge during the Buxtehude year.

Chris Bragg

see also Review by Brian Wilson


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