Buxtehude: Vocal Works, Vol. 2: Cantatas, Concertos and Miscellaneous Pieces

COMPOSERS: Buxtehude
LABELS: Challenge
ALBUM TITLE: Buxtehude
WORKS: Vocal Works, Vol. 2: Cantatas, Concertos and Miscellaneous Pieces
PERFORMER: Bettina Pahn, Johannette Zomer (soprano), Bogna Bartosz, Patrick van Goethem (countertenor), Jörg Dürmüller (tenor), Donald Bentvelsen, Klaus Mertens (bass); Amsterdam Baroque Choir & Orchestra/Ton Koopman
CATALOGUE NO: CC 72244
Ton Koopman and his Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir continue their projected complete survey of Buxtehude’s music with a programme of cantatas, vocal concertos and smaller pieces. Some of this rewardingly varied repertoire will be unfamiliar to readers, several of these items almost certainly receiving their first airing on disc. A striking feature permeating almost but not quite all the music assembled here is the Italianate character of the writing. That is not at all to imply that Buxtehude speaks other than with a distinctive voice of his own, but rather that Italian influences persisted in north Germany long after Schütz and comfortably into

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the 18th century.

One of the most immediately arresting pieces is the polychoral Benedicam Dominum based on three verses from Psalm 33. Buxtehude’s instrumental arsenal, much more adventurous than most Italian models, is a formidable one that includes trumpets, sackbuts, timpani, cornetti, dulcian, regal, strings and organ. A five-part choir with five soloists completes an outstandingly colourful and vibrant exaltation. Koopman’s performance is fervently declaimed though I found in the larger scale pieces such as this the recorded sound a shade congested and the textures opaque. Its imposing dimensions make striking contrast with Buxtehude’s more intimate writing of which there are many instances to be found here.

Of particular charm, perhaps are the In dulci jubilo for soprano, alto and bass, a Jubilate Domino warmly sung by Daniel Taylor who is partnered by a prominent and expressive viola da gamba line, the dance-like Drei schöne Dinge sind

for soprano and bass, and Liebster, meine Seele saget, a chaconne for two sopranos, two violins and continuo. Two rarities exist in the three-part vocal canon Divertissons nous aujourd’hui and a Canon

duplex (double canon) which is performed instrumentally.

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Not all the singing on the disc is as secure as it should be and this is noticeable above all in the Missa but, in summary, a musically rewarding issued rounded off by a resonant Easter hymn ‘Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn’, attributed to Buxtehude. Nicholas Anderson