Dieterich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707)
Opera Omnia XIV: Vocal Works - Volume 5
Je hoher du bist BuxWV 55 [14:44]
Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe (II) BuxWV 39 [10:14]
Ich bin die Auferstehung und das Leben BuxWV 44 [5:42]
Herr, wenn ich nur dich hab (I) BuxWV 38 [3:12]
Bedenke Mensch das Ende BuxWV 9 [10:42]
Ich bin eine Blume zu Saron BuxWV 45 [10:06]
Jesu, komm, mein Trost und Lachen BuxWV 58 [8:05]
Jesu, dulcis memoria II - Ciacona BuxWV 57 [8:31]
Miriam Meyer (soprano); Siri Karoline Thornhill (soprano); Bettina
Pahn (soprano); Dorothee Wohlgemuth (soprano); Bogna Bartosz (alto);
Jörg Dürmüller (tenor); Klaus Martens (bass); Amsterdam Baroque
rec. 2007, 2008, 2011, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Netherlands. DDD
CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72253 [71:19]
Ton Koopman's survey of the entire works of Buxtehude seems
to be getting more enjoyable and exciting with each release.
Here we are at what must be (just under) about two-thirds of
the way through - volume 14, the fifth in the series of the
composer's vocal works. The five high soloists and a tenor and
bass are lively, confident, sensitive - the dialogue in Bedenke
Mensch das Ende [tr.5] is a good example of real, studied
drama - and technically brilliant (listen to the ensemble singing
and pacing towards the end of Jesu, komm, mein Trost und
Lachen [tr.7], for instance). They infuse their performances
with joy, depth, clarity, devotion and the other emotions required
by the glorious - yet almost unknown - writing of Buxtehude
… essentially Germanic but with the inevitable influence of
Italy in general and Monteverdi in particular also much in evidence.
Some of the works on this CD were recorded as long ago as 2007
and 2008; the booklet is unusually unforthcoming about which
and where. This suggests that Koopman may be 'collecting' from
Buxtehude's œuvre at this stage in the project. But there is
nothing about the collection on this generous and amply-recorded
CD to make us think we're experiencing the 'also-rans' or dregs.
This is music of great exactness: penetrating, striking and
original. Buxtehude's gift for melody, structure and the creation
of complex, subtle yet highly meaningful textures is in evidence
from first note to last.
Only three or four of the works presented here are otherwise
available - in compilations and on DVD, for example. So there
is every reason to acquire this CD without hesitation - even
were its performances not of the extremely high calibre that
they are. Each of the soloists has something definite, communicative
and enriching to offer. The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra is also
on typically excellent form.
The new impetus given to music after the devastation of the
Thirty Years War (1618-1648) by the evolving Geistliches
Konzert (sacred concerto) is also responsible for much of
the measured yet unmistakable vivacity of Buxtehude's choral
writing here … usually a short instrumental introduction, an
impactful, self-contained and focused Biblical phrase or section
of text is explored by one or more soloists - with instrumental
'support' rather than intricate comment in its own right. A
true point of departure for and from the church cantata. The
musicians involved in this excellent CD from Challenge thoroughly
understand the idiom of the Geistliches Konzert.
This CD has other forms which are as striking by their then
innovative nature at Buxtehude's time as by their 'stability'
and overseeing command of the blend of musical form and idea
with text are to us now. These include the strophic arias and
ciacconne; and the concerto-aria cantatas (Je hoher
du bist [tr.1] and Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe [tr.2]).
One senses Buxtehude's delight at the freedom of expression
which these forms afford him. And the performers' responsiveness
and involvement … Buxtehude was laying all sorts of ground for
others - not least Bach. But he was also writing devotional
music for local 'consumption' and probably specific occasions
in Lübeck. So the singers need to steer a fairly narrow course
between emphasising the historical moment in which the music
was written; and its more general meaning. They do. At the same
time, their singing and playing have a modern touch … it's immediate,
'edgy' almost, the singers' articulation of the all-important
texts are crystalline, liquid, limpid - without ever being florid.
The acoustic is clean, though perhaps a touch too dry for the
not ostentatious but peacefully declamatory nature of some of
the music. The booklet with notes by Christoph Wolff is highly
informative and has the texts in German (and Latin for Jesu,
dulcis memoria) and English. If you're already collecting
this cycle, don't hesitate for a second. If you want to sample
historically significant and beautiful music from the under-performed
Buxtehude, this is a great place to start.