Buxtehude: Fried- und Freudenreiche Hinfahrt, BuxWV 76; O dulcis Jesu, BuxWV 83; Gen Himmel zu dem Vater mein, BuxWV 32; Sicut Moses exaltavit serpentem, BuxWV 97; Was mich auf dieser Welt betrübt, BuxWV 105

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Buxtehude
LABELS: Dacapo
WORKS: Fried- und Freudenreiche Hinfahrt, BuxWV 76; O dulcis Jesu, BuxWV 83; Gen Himmel zu dem Vater mein, BuxWV 32; Sicut Moses exaltavit serpentem, BuxWV 97; Was mich auf dieser Welt betrübt, BuxWV 105
PERFORMER: Emma Kirkby (soprano)John Holloway, Manfredo Kraemer (violin), Jaap ter Linden (viola da gamba), Lars Ulrik Mortensen (harpsichord/organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224062
While Buxtehude’s organ music enjoys a justifiably high profile – several complete recordings are currently available throughout Europe – his vocal music runs a very poor second. The North German middle ground between chorale concertato and the early cantatas of Bach is richly diverse and, in the hands of composers like Buxtehude, wonderfully expressive. Soprano Emma Kirkby has chosen nine sacred pieces which may conveniently be grouped under the heading of ‘solo motet’, but which Buxtehude would have simply called ‘aria’. Pieces such as the melodically beguiling Was mich auf dieser Welt betrübt, with its regular phrases, verse form and simple continuo support, are just that, though Buxtehude effectively breaks up the vocal sections with instrumental ritornelli. Other pieces, by contrast, are more elaborately constructed, notably the deeply felt Fried- und freudenreiche Hinfahrt with its solo keyboard (organ) counterpoint and Klag-Lied. In this recital its five sections are interspersed with other items on the menu. Kirkby’s performance is intimately expressive and vocally well sustained.

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All the music here is of a high order, inspired and often intensely affecting. Kirkby seems to go from strength to strength and here I was particularly struck by the warm resonance of her mezzo range. The instrumental playing, stylish in solos and supportive in accompaniment, sets the seal on an outstanding release. Nicholas Anderson