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Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707)
O Gottes Stadt, o güldnes Licht
Lauda anima mea 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]
Entreißt euch, meine Sinnen BuxWV 25 [6:05]
Schönster Jesu, liebstes Leben BuxWV 8 [5:03]
Contrapunctus I & II Bux WV 76 [2:07]
Was mich auf dieser Welt betrübt BuxWV105 [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 Welt geliebt BuxWV 5 [7:17]
Barbara Christina Steude (soprano)
Lautten Compagney/Wolfgang Katschner
rec. Produktionsstätte Gärtnerstraße, Deustschlandradio Kultur, Berlin, October 2006
CARUS 83.192 [66:09]
 

 

Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707)
Dein edles Herz, der Liebe Thron
Nun danket alle Gott BuxWV 79 [10:14]
Wo soll ich fliehen hin BuxWV 112 [17:05]
Befiehl dem Engel, dass er komm BuxWV 10 [4:41]
Dein edles Herz, der Liebe Thron BuxWV 14 [9:42]
Jesu, meine Freude BuxWV 60 [9:48]
Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort BuxWV27 [4:52]
Eins bitte ich vom Herrn BuxWV 24 [17:45]
Capella Angelica
Lautten Compagney/Wolfgang Katschner
rec. Freylinghausensaal, Halle, January 2007
CARUS 83.193 [75:01]

Experience Classicsonline


Too often, in view of the younger composer’s admiration for him, Buxtehude can be seen as Bach-light. Until recently Buxtehude’s main claim to fame was that Bach once walked more than 200 miles to hear him play the organ at Lübeck, while very little of his music was known. His tercentenary in 2007 passed almost unnoticed by the major record labels and concert promoters. More and more, however, we are seeing Buxtehude as a genius in his own right, and these discs should continue that process of discovery. They contain a wide variety of church cantatas in excellent performances, including seven works that have never been recorded before. They take the listener on a most rewarding journey.
 
It is well known that Buxtehude spent most of his working life as organist of St Mary’s Church, Lübeck, which was famous for its outstanding church music. Much of his vast output of organ music stems from his Sunday service duties. Not the works presented here, however, as it was not the organist’s job to provide vocal music. It is likely that the cantatas gathered together here were written for Lübeck’s celebrated Abendmusiken, or evening music recitals. These were sacred concerts in church which took place after the main services on Sunday, containing large-scale oratorios but also mixed programmes of smaller pieces such as those presented here. The two discs showcase two different kinds of cantata: O Gottes Stadt, o güldnes Licht features cantatas written for the solo soprano voice, while Dein edles Herz, der Liebe Thron contains works for a smaller choir and some dialogue cantatas, a form which Bach was to make famous. Both are accompanied by a small instrumental group, and it is this group which provides the chiefest pleasure. Lautten Compagney clearly has this music in its blood. It has been said that the most successful period sound is that which does not draw attention to itself. That is most certainly the case here. This small ensemble has an impeccable awareness of the correct style to deploy. Their textures are lean, their playing supple and the poise they show is remarkable throughout. One can well imagine this sound being produced in the Baroque churches of Lübeck; they are a joy to listen to, and if the sound is a little sinewy then this only adds to the experience.
 
The singing is first rate also. The soprano soloist on the first disc is Barbara Christina Steude; she also sings in the Capella Angelica choir on the second disc. Her command of technique is excellent throughout. She shows secure coloratura during the fanfare-like Lauda anima mea Dominum and is tenderly affecting for the supplication of O clemens, o mitis. The strophic arias on this disc (Entreißt euch, meine Sinnen and Schönster Jesu, liebstes Leben) are flexible and never dull, while the larger-scale title track is solemn and imposing, expressing the soul’s longing for the heavenly city. Perhaps there are times when Steude can reach up to the top notes rather than sit on top of them, but the purity of her tone is never in doubt and the ensemble playing complements her stylishly.
 
There is even more pleasure to be had in the second disc, however. There is more variety here, and thus more colour. The orchestra adds trumpets and flutes for some numbers and the vocal fare is more varied too. The first and last works on the disc have the most layered textures. Nun danket alle Gott - nothing to do with the Lutheran chorale - is a triumphant song of thanks, while Eins bitte ich vom Herrn is effectively an elaborate strophic song for full chorus, with some interpolations to vary the texture. The ten members of Capella Angelica, who never all sing in any one number, know this music backwards. Their technical accomplishment is consistently impressive and the frequent solo contributions are distinguished. These larger choral items sit next to smaller ones, such as the cantata Jesu, meine Freude, which uses the same chorale theme as Bach in his motet of the same name. Most interesting, however, is the dialogue cantata Wo soll ich fliehen hin which presents a dialogue between Jesus and the soul, as the soul seeks rest from the pains of the world and Jesus reassures her that it can only be found in him. Each section is neatly contrasted with the one before, and the two soloists inhabit their roles convincingly. The instrumental contributions are marvellous throughout.
 
The whole is held together by the expert direction of Wolfgang Katschner, who is making a name for himself as one of our leading exponents of Buxtehude’s music. His scholarly approach never reverts to dry academia, and he always keeps the argument moving so that our attention never flags. This combination of musicians have already recorded an acclaimed Membra Jesu Nostri and if their standards remain this high then we can only look forward to more recordings which reveal a Buxtehude we barely know.
 
Simon Thompson

see also reviews by Jonathan Woolf and Brian Wilson of Dein edles Herz (83.193) and Glyn Pursglove of O Gottes Stadt (83.192) 

 


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