Dieterich BUXTEHUDE (c.1637-1707)
VII Suonate for violin, viola da gamba & harpsichord op.2
I in B flat, BuxWV 259 [7:24]
II in D, BuxWV 260 [11:56]
III in G minor, BuxWV 261 [10:35]
IV in C minor, BuxWV 262 [7:11]
V in A, BuxWV 263 [8:45]
VI in E, BuxWV 264 [9:17]
VII in F, BuxWV 265 [7:41]
The Purcell Quartet (Catherine Mackintosh (violin); Catherine Weiss (violin); Richard Boothby (viola da gamba); Robert Woolley (harpsichord))
rec. All Saints' Church, East Finchley, 21-23 February 2011. DDD

This is the follow-up to the Purcell Quartet's disc of Buxtehude's seven op.1 Suonate (BuxWV 252-258), released in 2010 (Chaconne 0766) and well received (see Brian Wilson’s download roundup). The Quartet's remarkable discography on Chandos, with the same crew almost throughout, has been growing at the rate of two a year since 1987, beginning with their acclaimed recordings on three CDs of Purcell's own Sonnatas - now deleted but still available from Chandos as downloads (see review) - and including, more recently, a splendid account of Biber's Mensa Sonora (review).

Buxtehude's trio Sonatas for violin and viola da gamba, with harpsichord continuo, though formally conservative, are typically lively and diverse. They are inventive to the point of fantastical - now jig-like, now soigné, contrapuntally twisting and turning, rhythmically strolling and spurting, emotionally whimsical and wistful. The listener is never entirely sure what Buxtehude's imagination will come up with next.
These are as always period instrument performances by the Purcells, and their customary professionalism should appeal to most ears. However, there is a certain amount of almost regal restraint in their playing that makes Buxtehude sound more like Purcell. This is no bad thing but it’s not entirely Buxtehude, whose quirky fertility may benefit from a more unbuttoned treatment.
These interpretations compare well with the competition on Naxos (8.557249) - a good budget choice, nevertheless - and L'Estravagante on Arts, equally impressive and the only choice for SACD fans (review). The op.2 Suonate as played by Ton Koopman and friends are on Challenge Classics in April 2012, volume 15 of their complete works of Buxtehude (CC 72254). Those initially tempted by the Purcell Quartet may prefer to compare before committing cash.
Sound quality is very good, although the rumble of traffic, inescapable in London, does intrude frequently, albeit at low levels. The booklet is attractively designed, the English-German-French notes by Peter Holman intelligent and well written, if biased towards the historical. Chandos give Buxtehude's first name in the commonest modern German spelling, 'Dietrich', but the composer himself generally used the form given above - that is to say, after he Germanised his name, probably having been given the Danish form Diderich (now Diderik) at birth.
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Inventive to the point of fantastical - now jig-like, now soigné.