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Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707)

Lauda anima me Dominum BuxWV 67 [7:16]
Herr, auf dich traue ich BuxWV 35 [10:08]
O clemens, o mitis, o coelestis Pater BuxWV 82 [6:39]
Eintreisst euch, meine Sinnen BuxWV 25 [6:05]
Schönster Jesu, liebstes Leben BuxWV 8 [5:03]
Contrapunctus I and II, on ‘Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin’ BuxWV 76 [2:07]
Was mich auf dieser Welt betrübt BuxWV 105 [3:05]
O Gottes Stadt, o güldnes Licht BuxWV 87 [9:20]
Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied BuxWV 98 [8:08]
Also hat Gott die Wely geliebet BuxWV 5 [7:17]
Barbara Christina Steude (soprano); Lautten Compagney: Birgit Schnurpfeil, Anne von Hoff (violin); Ulrike Paetz (viola); Ulrike Becker (viola da gamba, violone); Annette Reheinfurth (violone, contrabass); Christine Tschirge (harpsichord, positive organ); Hans-Werner Apel (theorbo, baroque guitar); Wolfgang Katchner (theorbo) / Wolfgang Katschner
rec. 9-12 October, 2006, Produktionsstätte Gärtnerstrasse, Deutschlandradio Kultur, Berlin
CARUS 83.192 [66:09]


 

 

It is perhaps a measure of the relative neglect of Buxtehude’s vocal music that this CD should include four pieces (BWV 8, 35, 67 and 82) which are said to be world premiere recordings. Of Buxtehude’s writing for the solo voice, there is more for soprano than for any other voice type. In early performances of this music, those soprano voices were presumably provided by the boys of St. Katherine’s School in Lübeck. Their must have been some fine singers amongst them, given the technical demands made by some of this music.

Barbara Christina Steude – here making her recording debut as a soloist – has an agile voice, with some charm and a nice range of colours. Just occasionally notes seem to disappear a little quickly and there are one or two odd fragmentations of longer phrases, but these are minor blemishes and don’t detract from an attractive and rewarding programme. The instrumental forces supporting Steude are impressive; their playing is rhythmically sophisticated and elegant, the sound colours various and rich without ever being cloying.

The programme begins with a numinous setting of verses from Psalm 146, in which Buxtehude’s music beautifully complements the text, without any recourse to simple word-painting. The Psalmist’s words are matched by music of genuine radiance, both in the almost ecstatic opening and in the more sober middle section (‘Put not your trust in princes…’). Steude’s voice is heard at its most subtly beautiful in such passages; in the more rhapsodic sections she seems just a bit contained, a little short on sheer excitement. In ‘Herr, auf dich traue Ich’. A more consistently meditative setting of verses from Psalm 31, Steude is very impressive indeed, and is beautifully complemented by the work of the Lautten Compagney, directed by Wolfgang Katschner. ‘O Clemens, o mitis, o coelestis Pater’ is very fine too.

Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied’ is one of the more substantial works here, and one that has had previous recordings. Emma Kirkby’s 1996 recording, with John Holloway, Jaap ter Linen and others was recently reissued on Naxos (see review by myself and review by Mark Sealey). Kirkby’s performance is a fraction slower, but there is both a greater fluidity in her runs and a more rapt sense of wonder and joy. In both cases there is some fine solo violin playing to be heard – from John Holloway with Kirkby and, I presume, from Birgit Schnurpfeil with Steude.

There is much else to savour here – on the tercentenary of Buxtehude’s death this is a fitting tribute. Steude is clearly a very promising talent and I hope we shall hear a good deal more of her. She lets no one down on this debut recording. The work of her instrumental accompanists can be given unqualified praise; indeed I find them at least as satisfying, and in some respects more exciting, than the more famous accompanists who appear with Kirkby. All in all, this makes a valuable and thoroughly enjoyable addition to the slowly growing library of Buxtehude’s vocal works. This will be boosted by Tom Koopman’s planned Buxtehude series on Challenge Classics.

Glyn Pursglove

 


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