Buxtehude: 7 Suonate a due, Op. 1

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COMPOSERS: Buxtehude
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: 7 Suonate a due, Op. 1
PERFORMER: Manfredo Kraemer (violin), Juan Manuel Quintana (viola da gamba), Dane Roberts (violone), Dirk Börner (harpsichord)
Buxtehude’s seven sonatas for violin, viola da gamba and harpsichord continuo were printed in 1694 and issued as the composer’s Op. 1. From a formal standpoint, as well as an expressive one, they are strikingly original, abounding in bold harmonic ideas, some startling shifts and spontaneous gestures. This last-named feature of Buxtehude’s sonatas gives much of the music an improvisatory character, the ‘stylus phantasticus’ to which certain theorists of the time drew attention and which serves as a reminder that Baroque music was not governed by any single system of classification or exclusive doctrine. The somewhat amorphous shape of these pieces, with their lack of formal constraint, allowed Buxtehude the freedom to express himself with intensity, individuality and a pleasing unorthodoxy. These qualities are explored to the full by this excellent ensemble of players for whose violinist, Manfredo Kraemer, I have great admiration. The quirkiness of the music and its required virtuosity are features to which he responds with vivid, clean-cut gestures and an infectious indulgence of caprice. The Chaconne of the Fourth Sonata, the Aria of the Fifth, and the Prestissimo of the Seventh are splendid instances of Kraemer’s musical sensibility and that of the ensemble, and readers will be delighted with playing of this order. Nicholas Anderson