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Dieterich BUXTEHUDE (c1637-1707)
Complete works for organ Vol. 5

Praeludium in D major BuxWV 139 [5:38]
Danket dem Herrn BuxWV 181 [3:20]
Ich dank dir, Lieber Herre BuxWV 194 [4:49]
Magnificat noni toni BuxWV 205 [3:10]
Magnificat primi toni BuxWV 203 [7:57]
Praeludium in F sharp minor BuxWV 146 [8:02]
Te Deum Laudamus BuxWV 218 [13:59]
Ach Gott und Herr BuxWV 177 [2:34]
Ich dank dir schon BuxWV 195 [5:06]
Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren BuxWV 213 [6:19]
Praeludium in D minor BuxWV 140 [6:12]
Bine Bryndorf (organ)
rec. St Jacobi Church, Hamburg, May 2006. DDD
DACAPO 6.220520 [67:11]

The fifth disc in Bine Bryndorf’s continuing series surveying the complete organ works of Buxtehude takes her to Hamburg, a city with which the composer had strong contacts. In fact he is now thought to have studied with Heinrich Scheidemann, the famous organist of the Katharinekirche. That organ still awaits its reconstruction which may yet be completed before the end of the decade. In the meantime the Hamburg organ mecca remains St Jacobi, the largest surviving instrument of Arp Schnitger. Since Ahrend’s 1993 restoration the organ has been no stranger to Buxtehude’s music, indeed, one of the first recordings made on it was the final CD in Harald Vogel’s still legendary cycle for MD&G. 

Interestingly, Bryndorf records several of the same pieces as Vogel. Interesting to note that while Vogel transposes the BuxWV 139 Praeludium, presumably to avoid the dissonances caused by the curious 1/5th comma meantone tuning in bars 87-90, Bryndorf doesn’t seem bothered about it. Frankly the moment passes so quickly that I don’t mind it either. Her well considered reading of the f# minor Praeludium is however presented in g minor. This is logical, but should be acknowledged in the booklet!

Bryndorf seems to have rather shaken off the ‘stylus-Vogeliensis’ accelerandi at the beginning of the free works, which I’m glad about. Listening to Vogel’s recording however reminds me how much more monumental the organ, and Buxtehude’s music in general, can sound than Bryndorf sometimes allows it to here, especially in the context of the free works. Her stunning technique and attention to detail (her vocabulary of articulation is a model of sophistication) is to my mind slightly compromised by her occasional tendency towards the too brisk and breezy. The result for me occasionally causes something of a quandary between perceived affect and musical content. This is especially true of the second section of the Te Deum where the first line of the cantus firmus is presented; the setting begins with just two voices and grows in stature to the monumental conclusion, double pedal and all. Bryndorf’s rather light registration and way of playing is, in my opinion, a pity. Vogel by contrast even adds the 32’ reed at the end. The chorale fantasia which follows it (Pleni sunt coeli) would also have benefited from being a notch slower and more considered. 

This is not to say that Bryndorf’s approach to the proportio in the free works and the affect suggested by the time signatures is illogical, indeed she is one of the few interpreters of the music whose approach demonstrates a highly accurate reflection of the notation. She even, inadvertently, corrects the programme notes of Kerala Snyder who refers to the second fugue of BuxWV 140 as being in ¾. In older editions this was the case, however, in the now standard Belotti edition in which BuxWV 140 is based on the Thuringian manuscript ‘Pittsburgh Ms/2’ the fugue is notated in 3/2, and Bryndorf plays it as such. 

Given her exceptional accuracy in such matters, it is then strange to have to report a small rhythmic inaccuracy in BuxWV 140. The second fugue begins with a single crotchet, followed by a rest and 3 semiquavers (abruptio). In bar 55 Bryndorf shortens the opening crotchet to a quaver, resulting in the same rhythmic notation as the second fugue of BuxWV 146, but leading to a moment of rhythmic crisis. 

Bine Bryndorf has preserved in her recordings something of the registrational style of Harald Vogel. Her use of the organ is less complicated, though personally I prefer an even more stable solution in the free works, even given the organ’s four manuals. The Magnificat primi toni is for me especially over-fussy. Her ear for colour, particularly in her use of the reeds, in the shorter chorale based works is, however, highly effective.

The interpretation of Buxtehude’s works is a highly subjective area, and I admire Bryndorf for her sheer musicality, brilliant technique and straightforward way of playing, even if I prefer a more weighty approach in general. The Hamburg organ sounds exceptional of course, and is very well recorded. Among the current batch of new Buxtehude recordings Bryndorf’s discs remain recommendable.

Chris Bragg




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