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Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707)
O fröhliche Stunden, BuxWV 84 [6:05]
O dulcis Jesu, BuxWV 83 [11:52]
Fried- und freudenreiche Hinfahrt, BuxWV 76: Contrapunctus I [1:29]
Was mich auf dieser Welt betrübt, BuxWV 105 [1:29]
Fried- und freudenreiche Hinfahrt, BuxWV 76: Contrapunctus I (Evolutio) [1:32]
Schaff in mir, Gott, BuxWV 95 [7:07]
Fried- und freudenreiche Hinfahrt, BuxWV 76, Teil II: Klag-Lied [7:11]
Gen Himmel zu dem Vater mein, BuxWV 32 [8:15]
Fried- und freudenreiche Hinfahrt, BuxWV 76: Contrapunctus II [1:22]
Singet den Herrn, BuxWV 98 [9:15]
Fried- und freudenreiche Hinfahrt, BuxWV 76: Contrapunctus II (Evolutio) [1:25]
Sicut Moses exaltavit serpentem, BuxWV 38 [4:12]
Emma Kirby (soprano); John Holloway (violin); Manfredo Kraemer (violin); Jaap ter Linden (viola da gamba); Lars Ulrik Mortensen (harpsichord, organ)
rec. 1-4 November 1996, Stokkemarke Church, Denmark
NAXOS 8.557251 [72:18]

Previously issued on Dacapo 8.224062, this is an outstanding celebration of some important aspects of Buxtehude’s very considerable genius. Admirers of Buxtehude – or, indeed, of Emma Kirkby, who don’t already have this CD in their collection should rapidly take the opportunity to acquire it.
Buxtehude’s vocal music, for all its surely undeniable quality and interest, still seems to take second place, in terms of esteem, to his writing for the organ. I have no wish to denigrate the organ music. As a student I once walked seven miles home through the night after listening to a Buxtehude recital which finished after my last bus had left – not quite on a par, I admit, with Bach’s legendary walk of 280 miles from Anstadt to Lübeck to hear Buxtehude play in 1705 (see Kerala J. Snyder’s ‘To Lübeck in the Steps of J. S. Bach’, The Musical Times, Vol. 127, No. 1726, Dec., 1986, pp. 672-677), but very well worth it. The vocal music, at its best, merits a similar degree of devotion and in Emma Kirkby and her accompanists it finds utterly persuasive advocates.
Enough has been said over the years about Kirkby’s voice, and the few listeners who seem to have an aversion to it will doubtless know to steer clear of this. For many of the rest of us, the extraordinary intelligence of Kirkby’s interpretation of text, the way she can bring to life both words and music by the sheer perceptiveness of her ‘reading’ of how the two interact, has been one of the great pleasures of the Early Music revival of recent decades. Here she sings with both her usual clarity and precision and an expressive subtlety that is a joy to listen to, aided as it is – and doubtless stimulated by – the expert work of John Holloway, Manfred Kraemer as solo and duet violinists and the vital and unexcessively colourful continuo work of Jaap ter Linden and Lars Ulrik Mortensen. These are musicians who have often worked together, and their intuitive ease in one another’s company is evident in everything that they do.
All but two of the works performed here are preserved in manuscripts copied at the Swedish royal court and now preserved in the University Library in Uppsala. The many highlights of the disc include the marvellously joyful Easter aria ‘O fröhliche Stunden, / O fröhliche Zeit’ which opens the programme and which ends with an exuberantly florid Amen in which one hears Kirkby at something like her best; the vocal concerto, ‘Gen Himmel zu dem vater mein’, which sets the last two verses of Luther’s chorale ‘Nun freut euch lieben Christen g’mein’, verses on the Ascension of Christ which provoke music of rapturous beauty from Buxtehude, in which voice and violins interact to wonderful effect. ‘O dulcis Jesu, / o amor cordis mei’ is a gorgeous piece, imbued with the spirit of love for Christ, calling for – and getting – a degree of almost Italianate virtuosity from the soloist; ‘Sicut Moses exaltavit serpentem’ is based on the Gospel for Trinity Sunday and gives particular opportunity for the violins of Holloway and Kraemer to hold centre-stage – theatrical metaphors don’t seem out of place for much of this music.
The recorded sound is all that one requires and there are good booklet notes by the Buxtehude Scholar Kerala J. Snyder. Texts and translations are not included, but can be accessed via the Naxos website. So far as I remember a further volume of Buxtehude vocal music by these forces was issued on Da Capo; I look forward to that making its return on Naxos too.
Glyn Pursglove



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