Harpsichord Music Vol. III
Suite in A Major [8.18]
Canzonetta in D minor [4.37]
Suite in F Major [7.26]
Prelude in G Major [5.41]
Aria: "La Capricciosa" in G Major [15.59]
Lars Ulrik Mortensen,
Rec: September 1998
DA CAPO 8.224118
Da Capo has, so far, released 3 CDs of Buxtehude's harpsichord works, all
performed excellently by Lars Ulrik Mortensen. This is the third volume of
The two suites on this recording are both in major keys. The Suite in A Major
is a bright, happy work, which sounds very much like the tone of Bach's French
Suites. The music here is playful and gay, and Mortensen's performance and
ornamentation is ideal. Even the slow movements, the allemande and sarabande,
The F major suite is more restrained, less extroverted than the A Major suite.
Yet, it is, like all of Buxtehude's suites, a beautiful series of movements
that develop the themes from the opening allemande. Once again, this suite
recalls the music of Louis Couperin.
The Canzonetta in D minor is an attractive contrapuntal work. It is a rich
fugue based on a pensive theme, and develops a series of variations around
this theme. Buxtehude decidedly liked variations.
The high point of this recording is the Aria: "La Capricciosa" in G Major.
Buxtehude's grandest keyboard work, at over 28 minutes long, this as a series
of 32 variations on a theme, part of which is from the popular song "Kraut
und Rüben". What is especially interesting about this work is that Bach
also used this tune in the final variation of his masterpiece the Goldberg
Variations; it appears in the 30th variation, the quodlibet. In this amazing
work, Buxtehude did something similar to Bach - starting from a basic subject,
he developed an astounding series of variations, changing the theme into
different styles, forms, rhythms, and doing so with total mastery. Bach's
work is different, though. Bach used the bass line of the aria as the recurring
theme; Buxtehude uses the melody itself.
The first exposition of the theme is a beautiful, almost dainty French-style
movement. Light and airy, this theme is simple, and the first part of the
work is relatively unassuming. Yet, throughout these variations, we hear
the melody being changed, adapted, ornamented, and reworked in a variety
of ways, with the original theme always recognisable. Buxtehude also uses
many different dance forms in these variations - from the initial Bergamesca,
he moves through gigues, sarabandes and minuets. The movements in this work
range from simple, melodic pieces to more virtuosic sections, covering the
entire range of Buxtehude's varied compositional repertory. This work is,
quite simply, one of the high points of baroque harpsichord music.
This recording is perhaps the most essential of the three discs so far released
in this series. The Aria: "La Capricciosa" is undoubtedly Buxtehude's
masterpiece, and probably a model for Bach's Goldberg Variations. Another
excellent recording that all lovers of harpsichord music should own.