Buxtehude: Cantatas, BuxWV 6, 13, 17, 37, 57, 58, 71, 77 & 92

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COMPOSERS: Buxtehude
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Sacred Cantatas
WORKS: Cantatas, BuxWV 6, 13, 17, 37, 57, 58, 71, 77 & 92
PERFORMER: Emma Kirkby (soprano), Michael Chance (countertenor), Charles Daniels (tenor), Peter Harvey (bass); The Purcell Quartet, various instrumentalists
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 0723
The prestigious position of organist at Lübeck’s Marienkirche required little from Buxtehude in the way of vocal music. Yet his legacy in this sphere is far from lean and is rich in its expressive language. Some of the pieces would almost certainly have been sung at Communion services, others perhaps at the popular Abendmusik concerts held during Advent in the Marienkirche, or in even more intimate, domestic surroundings.

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Most of the works in the second volume of Buxtehude’s sacred cantatas performed by the Purcell Quartet with solo voices have been previously recorded but two of them, Dixit Dominus (BuxWV 17) and Jesu, komm, mein Trost und Lachen (BuxWV 58) are comparative rarities. The singers capture much of the intimate fervour with which the varied texts and the music are suffused, and their sensitive responses are mirrored by the restrained accompaniments of the Purcell Quartet and its quorum of satellite instrumentalists. Among the greatest delights here are the chaconne for tenor, two violins and continuo Quemadmodum desiderat cervus (Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks). The beautiful text of Psalm 42 was much favoured by Baroque composers and Buxtehude’s setting ranks among the most affecting of them. Occasional tonal meagreness in upper registers, vocal and instrumental, did little to mar my enjoyment of a rewarding programme whose brightest star, on this occasion, is Charles Daniels. Nicholas Anderson