Buxtehude Complete Harpsichord Music

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Dietrich Buxtehude
LABELS: Brilliant Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Buxtehude Complete Harpsichord Music
WORKS: Complete Harpsichord Music
PERFORMER: Simone Stella (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 94312

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Simone Stella ended the first decade of this century going the distance with Buxtehude – and then some. Not content with performing the complete organ music over a series of recitals in Florence, he has also recorded the complete harpsichord works. His set comes hot on the heels of Ton Koopman’s, who introduced two recently discovered Suites which are also included by Stella. Buxtehude’s very own version of The Planets (a set of suites mentioned by Johann Mattheson in 1741) remains tantalisingly lost. And if Stella’s discs weigh in collectively at nearly an hour longer than Koopman’s foursome, it’s not owing to tempos: some extra manuals-only organ music is added to the pot – very effectively, too.

Ironically, Ton Koopman observed that he approached Buxtehude ‘with an Italian spirit’; here we have an Italian eager to touch base with his inner Teuton, as Stella sets well-ordered lucidity above unfettered flamboyance. Indeed, he sometimes misses the edgy danger Koopman brings to Buxtehude’s boldest strokes, but he’s an unfailingly intelligent and revealing guide to a body of work that cries out to be better known. Perhaps Koopman’s set wins out on excitement and his use of several instruments gives extra colour, but Stella’s budget alternative gives it a run for its money.

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Paul Riley