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Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707)
Sacred Works
Benedicam Dominum (BuxWV 113) [12:06]
Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott (BuxWV 78) [12:58]
Ich bin die Auferstehung und das Leben (BuxWV 44) [06:09]
Herr, wenn ich nur dich hab (BuxWV 38) [03:36]
An filius non est Dei (BuxWV 6) [11:37]
Alles, was ihr tut (BuxWV 4) [11:57]
Göteborg Baroque/Magnus Kjellson
rec. November 2006, Örgryte nya kirka, Göteborg, Sweden. DDD
FOOTPRINT RECORDS FRCD033 [58:28] 
Experience Classicsonline


The commemoration of the death of Dietrich Buxtehude in 2007 has resulted in a respectable number of new recordings of his works. Fortunately much attention has been paid to his vocal works, a still relatively little-known quantity which was not really explored during the commemoration of his birth in 1987. Considering the fact that so many recordings of Buxtehude's sacred music have been released in or around 2007 it is a bit of a shame that this disc contains six works most of which are pretty well known. An opportunity to bring some of the lesser-known compositions to people's attention has been missed. Having said that I must say that the programme of this disc is attractive - all the pieces are first rate. And the differences in content and form guarantee a maximum of variety.
 

The first item is without any doubt Buxtehude's most spectacular piece. 'Benedicam Dominum' is a motet in 24 parts, divided over six choirs. His predecessor, Franz Tunder, had at his disposal four small balconies in the Marienkirche in Lübeck. When Buxtehude was appointed as his successor, he managed to find sponsors for the building of two additional, larger balconies in the church. He made good use of them in this motet. Two of the choirs are vocal: one consists of soloists, the second is ‘a cappella’ which joins the soloists to single out certain passages. The performance is very impressive, not only because of the level of singing and playing, but also because here - as in the other pieces - a large organ is used in the basso continuo. 

'Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott' is introduced by an instrumental Sinfonia. This concerto is based on a hymn which written by Martin Moller in 1584. It reflects the hardship of his time: "Take from us, Lord, thou true God, the heavy punishment and great chastisement, which we have so deserved for our innumerable sins. Protect us in times of war and famine, of plague, fire and great sorrow". The chorale melody is present in every section, but strongly altered; the last stanza is most close to the original. Here the vocal lines are prepared by the strings. Buxtehude effectively uses harmony to depict the penitential character of this hymn. The dissonances are enhanced by the use of mean-tone temperament. The piece ends with a lively polyphonic setting of "Amen". The last line of the second stanza is set to staccato chords, impressively performed by the ensemble. The words 'List und Mord' (wiles and murderous assaults) are given a maximum of expression. 

'Ich bin die Auferstehung' is written for bass solo with an ensemble of strings, cornetts and trombones with bc. It is a piece for Easter in which the joy is reflected in lively rhythms, which are suddenly interrupted by a passage in slow speed on the words 'der wird leben, ob er gleich stürbe" (though he may die, he shall live). Jan H. Börjesson sings it rather well, although his singing suffers from rough patches. 

'Herr, wenn ich nur dich hab' is another composition for a solo voice, this time a soprano, with just two violins and bc. We find some good examples of text expression here, in particular the steep ascending figure on "so frag ich nichts nach Himmel". Anna Jobrant Dalnäs gives a very fine performance of this piece. 

'An filius non est Dei' is written on a text of a pietistic nature. In content it comes close to the famous cycle 'Membra Jesu nostri'. This is what the fourth stanza says: "O noble wound, o sweetest vein! Let me kiss thee and mend wounded hearts for ever". It is written for three voices - alto, tenor and bass - with three low instruments, either viole da gamba or trombones. Here the latter option has been chosen, and the trombones are played very well, but the articulation could have been better. The soloists leave nothing to be desired here. 

The last work is probably the best-known and most popular of all Buxtehude's sacred works, often performed by amateur choirs. It is an example of the so-called 'concerto-aria-cantata' which combines biblical text, free poetry and a chorale. It receives a wonderfully expressive performance in which Göteborg Baroque shows its strength as an ensemble and the capabilities of its members as soloists. 

The choice of repertoire may well be restricted to better-known compositions by Buxtehude but what it lacks in originality of programming it makes up for in quality of performance. Even those who already have a number of discs with sacred music by Buxtehude in their collection should look for this recording.

Johan van Veen


 


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