Complete Organ Works, Vol. 1 – Praeludium in C major; Ciacona in E minor; Magnificat primi toni, etc
Friedhelm Flamme (organ)
CPO 555 253-2 135:50 mins (2 discs)
The linctus has yet to be invented that can assuage the throaty rasp of the 32′ pedal reed underpinning the Treutmann organ of the Abbey Church of St Georg zu Grauhof bei Goslar. Begun some 30 years after Buxtehude’s death, it’s a magnificent beast, ideally attuned to cloaking the Lübeck master’s most pungent imaginings with an arresting kaleidoscope of colours. And, in the opening track, the magisterial roar of the Gross Posaunen Bass wastes no time in making its presence felt in a robust, no-nonsense account of the Praeludium in C, BuxWV137.
Friedhelm Flamme has already devoted over 20 discs to the illuminati of the North German organ school, but only now launches a complete survey of the greatest of them all in the generation before JS Bach. Volume One ranges over
the mighty multi-sectional praeludia, the pieces for manuals only such as the insouciant little ‘gigue’ fugue BuxWV174 (which Flamme concludes with a winsome shrug), some chorale-based works and two of the Magnificat elaborations.
Also included are two works fashioned over a recurring bass: the E minor Ciacona BuxWV160, whose registration projects a granite-like purposefulness, and the D minor Passacaglia BuxWV140, where Flamme favours a more elaborate yet restrained scheme, keeping his powder dry for a rumbustious account of the F major Toccata BuxWV157. Ton Koopman (on Challenge Classics) in his own complete cycle allows himself greater license in the ‘phantasticus’ elements, and Flamme’s prioritising of clarity can sometimes come across as didacticism; but there’s no doubting a compelling project in the making.