Buxtehude: Opera Omnia XI

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COMPOSERS: Buxtehude
LABELS: Challenge Classics
WORKS: Opera Omnia XI – Vocal Works, Vol. 4: Arias, Concertos and Cantatas, BuxWV 5, 8, 11, 13, 26, 27, 29, 33, 37, 53, 54, 56, 59, 71, 86 & 112
PERFORMER: Bettina Pahn, Miriam Meyer, Johannette Zomer, Siri Thornhill (soprano), Bogna Bartosz (mezzo-soprano), Patrick van Goethem (countertenor), Andreas Karasiak, Jörg Dürmüller (tenor), Klaus Mertens (bass); Amsterdam Baroque Choir & Orchestra/Ton Koopman
CATALOGUE NO: CC 72250

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Volume four of Ton Koopman’s survey of Buxtehude’s vocal music takes us further into seldom trodden territory. While German is by far the most frequently encountered language in Buxtehude’s work, there is a significant body of Latin texts, of which one is featured here, and even one in Swedish.

These attractive pieces, many of them intimately and fervently expressive, fall into various categories. Four of the 17 items are sacred arias, while the others loosely and in their different ways correspond with what we these days term cantata. Many pieces will be unfamiliar to all but the most ardent Buxtehude enthusiasts but there is a handful which has justifiably enjoyed wider circulation.

Among the loveliest of these are Herr, nun lässt du deinen Diener for tenor, two violins and continuo, Also hat Gott die Welt geliebet for soprano, two violins, viola da gamba and continuo, the four-voice Christmas aria Das neugeborne Kindelein and the poignant chorale-based cantata Wo soll ich fliehen hin? for four-part vocal texture, strings and continuo.

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These are masterly compositions which reveal Buxtehude’s affective skill in enlivening a text. Not all the soloists, perhaps, live up to expectation but some do, notable among whom are soprano Johannette Zomer, tenor Jörg Dürmüller and bass Klaus Mertens. Zomer’s Also hat Gott is beautifully done and here, as in Wo soll ich fliehen hin?, Koopman and his ensemble reach the heart of the music with touching sincerity. Nicholas Anderson