Buxtehude: Chamber Music Vol. 2:

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COMPOSERS: Buxtehude
LABELS: Challenge
WORKS: Chamber Music Vol. 2: Trio Sonatas, Op. 1
PERFORMER: Catherine Manson (violin), Paolo Pandolfo (viola da gamba), Ton Koopman (harpsichord, organ), Mike Fentross (lute)
CATALOGUE NO: CC 72252

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Ton Koopman launched his chamber music journey into the ‘Complete Buxtehude’ with sonatas from unpublished sources. Now he has the magnificent Op. 1 in his sights, a collection of seven trio sonatas cocking a snook at the Italians by opting for viola da gamba rather than a second violin, and by casting them in the seamless multi-sectional single movements the North Germans went for, shot through with the vivid imaginings of the so-called ‘fantastic style’. Paolo Pandolfo occupies the viola da gambist’s chair, and on the supposition that the music might have graced services at the Marienkirche, Lübeck Koopman retains the services of Mike Fentross’s lute, and himself commutes between harpsichord and organ.

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Buxtehude’s title page calls modestly for harpsichord alone. It’s a rich mix, richly exploited; the lute bringing energy to the music as well as seductively enlarging on Buxtehude’s harmonic finesse. And with all eager to flex their improvisatory prowess at the drop of a hat, the sparks take no time in flying, even if Catherine Manson’s violin is a tad more sober. The contrapuntal banter is lithe and energised, ‘fantasticus’ passages are seized on and cherished, and there’s an unstoppable spontaneity that intoxicates. Irresistible. Paul Riley