Buxtehude: Vocal Works 7

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COMPOSERS: Buxtehude
LABELS: Challenge Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Buxtehude: Vocal Works 7
WORKS: Chorales, arias, ciacconas, concertos and a cantata
PERFORMER: Amaryllis Dieltiens, Gerlinde Samann, Dorothee Wohlgemuth (sopranos), Maarten Engeltjes (alto), Tilman Lichdi (tenor), Klaus Mertens (bass); Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra/Ton Koopman


The previous release in Ton Koopman’s ongoing survey of Buxtehude’s complete surviving works tackled one of the Lubeck master’s best-known settings: the cantata cycle Membra Jesu Nostri. Now follows a double-disc set of relative rarities offering a tantalisingly varied snapshot of Buxtehude’s first two decades at the Hanseatic city’s Marienkirche. On no account be deterred by the prosaic title ‘Vocal Works 7’. Riches abound: from the pious extended elaborations of Lutheran chorales – including the austere Mit Fried und Freud composed on the death of Buxtehude’s father in 1674, with its heartfelt companion Klaglied – to the Italianate vivacity of Quemadmodum desiderat cervus, an irresistible ciaccona setting of carefree exuberance which tenor Tilman Lichdi performs with mellifluous brio. Arias to German and Latin texts, sacred concertos and a funeral ‘Dialog’ are also included, ensuring that all the major genres of late 17th-century Lutheran music are touched on. Assisted by a compellingly intimate recording, Koopman and his Amsterdam forces get the scale of the music just right, providing a compelling example of how less can be more. Voices and instruments – including up to six gambas – weave a seductive skein of tender music-making as responsive to the supple penitential pleading of Nimm von uns, Herr as it is to the rapturous soaring soprano dueting of Laudate pueri. And lute and dulcian enrich Koopman’s suave, sometimes playful, organ continuo. Quite simply, a must-hear.


Paul Riley