Masaaki Suzuki plays Buxtehude

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Buxtehude
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Toccata in F, BuxWV 156; Preludes: in A minor, BuxWV 153; in G minor, BuxWV148; Ciacona in E minor, BuxWV 160; Te Deum Laudamus, BuxWV 218; Von Gott will ich Nicht Lassen, BuxWV 220 & BuxWV 221 etc
PERFORMER: Masaaki Suzuki (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: BIS SACD-1809 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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With a new Buxtehude organ cycle in progress from Christopher Herrick (on Hyperion), and the ‘complete works’ recently under the belts of Ton Koopman (Challenge), Bine Bryndorf (Dacapo) and on a job-share Naxos disc, Masaaki Suzuki steps boldly into an organ loft buzzing with Buxtehudian industry.

By choosing two of the instruments deployed in Ton Koopman’s set, he courts direct comparisons with his erstwhile teacher. This is especially true in the ‘shared’ works here: the F major Toccata, BuxWV156, where Koopman’s ‘phantasticus’ crown sparkles brightest; the E minor Ciacona; and the chorale prelude Von Gott Will Ich Nicht Lassen, BuxWV220, in which Suzuki strikes a perfect accord between an expressively singing solo line and its fastidiously-shaped accompaniment. 

The Altenbruch instrument features an easy-on-the-ear modified ‘Werkmeister 3’ tuning; by contrast its Lüdingworth neighbour sports a bracing ‘meantone’ and its vibrato-imitating ‘tremulant’ mechanism emits a background ‘putter-putter’ like an outboard motor that’s in need of a service.

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Those seeking sympathetically played, exquisitely registered Buxtehude on historic instruments, but averse to Koopman’s pugnacious élan, will find themselves in congenial company here – and the surround sound is superbly immediate. Paul Riley