WORKS: Organ Music, Vol. 2
PERFORMER: Julia Brown (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555775
Precursor of Bach, pinnacle of the mid-Baroque or career organist; however you view Dietrich Buxtehude, his achievement was a remarkable one and covered many genres, of which organ music was only one. Among the special delights of this disc, which offers a mixed selection of organ works, are some of the small-scale chorale preludes. The little Komm heiliger Geist and the more extended Mit Fried und Freud are precious, Lutheran musings, the like of which would not be heard again until Bach’s Orgelbüchlein.
Julia Brown plays the Brombaugh organ in Eugene, Oregon, a fine replica of a North German organ of Buxtehude’s day. Barring a rather extraordinary pedal reed, which speaks late and with none of the finesse of the rest of the organ, the limpid flutes and cool, clean mixtures are ideal for this music. The playing is fine, and projects a warmly musical personality. If we believe the theorists of the day, toccatas were to be played as if ‘searching out the theme’, and this is exactly what one hears in Brown’s performance throughout. Wide-eyed at the music’s every inflection, her phraseology is placid and undemonstrative. There is consequently room for contrast of tone in the direction of muscularity and gesture, which would have been welcome modulations of what is otherwise excellent playing. William Whitehead