Buxtehude: Organ Works, Vol. 3

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COMPOSERS: Buxtehude
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Organ Works, Vol. 3: Preludes, BuxWV 136, 140, 145, 146 & 163; Canzonetta in G, BuxWV 172 etc
PERFORMER: Christopher Herrick (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67855

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Having explored organs in Denmark and Norway in the first two volumes of his Buxtehude cycle, Christopher Herrick heads to Paris for the third instalment, but never fear: he hasn’t succumbed to the Romantic blandishments of Cavaillé-Coll. St Louis en l’Ile boasts a 2002 Bernard Aubertin instrument designed to give the city an authentic-sounding vehicle for JS Bach.
 
Pitched at A=440 and tuned to Thomas Young 1799, it serves Buxtehude handsomely. In fact, if the ‘full organ’ is thrilling (introduced without delay by the opening D minor Praeludium, BuxWV 140, a tad straight-laced but given unexpected playfulness in the thunderous closing bars), some of the quiet registrations for the chorale preludes are even more ravishing: the tremulant-enriched ‘Erhalt uns’ is particularly seductive.
 
Herrick is at his most persuasive in the chorale-embroidering preludes where the invitation to improvisatory ‘phantasticus’ flair, readily accepted by Ton Koopman in his complete survey, is less pronounced. The sobriety of the D minor is echoed in a rather solid account of the C major Praeludium, BuxWV 136. But Herrick is commanding in the large-scale Magnificat Fantasia, to-the-point in the extended fugue which concludes BuxWV 145, and he discovers his inner Koopman-esque ‘wild man’ at the start of the F sharp minor Praeludium whose key elicits a blaze of bullish ‘attitude’ from the organ’s not-quite-equal-temperament. Paul Riley