Buxtehude: ‘Ein Starken Music…’: Cantatas

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COMPOSERS: Buxtehude
LABELS: Channel
WORKS: ‘Ein Starken Music…’: Cantatas
PERFORMER: Claron McFadden, Franciska Dukel (sop), Jonathan Peter Kenny (alto), Marius van Altena (tenor), Stephan MacLeod (bass); Collegium Vocale, Orchestra Anima Eterna, Royal Consort/Jos van Immerseel
Buxtehude’s organ music has been well investigated by recording companies. His sacred cantatas, by and large, have not. Now these two discs, one of them promisingly headed Volume I, suggest that the imbalance is about to be redressed. The cantatas embrace elements of sonata, concertato, aria and chorale and provided Bach with significant models. Both discs enliven Buxtehude’s often intensely expressive music with stylish singing and period-instrument playing. The USA-based Sarum Consort and Chamber Choir of St Peter’s in the Great Valley, under the direction of Martha Johnson, perhaps offer less polished performances than their Belgian rivals under Jos van Immerseel, but what they lack in finesse they compensate for in expressive spontaneity. Both discs contain attractive samples of Buxtehude’s varied approach to cantata writing, ranging from the vigorous Erfreue dich, Erde! with brass and timpani (Sarum Consort) to the profoundly contemplative Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott, and Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin which Buxtehude performed at his father’s funeral in 1674 (Anima Eterna). Among the smaller-scale pieces an ostinato-based strophic aria, ‘Jesu, meines Lebens Leben’, stands out for its highly imaginative treatment and affective strength. Nicholas Anderson