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)

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