ALBUM TITLE: Buxtehude
WORKS: Organ Works, Vol. 1: Nun freut euch lieben Christen g’mein, BuxWV210; Toccata in F, BuxWV156; Praeludium in F sharp, BuxWV146 etcOrgan Works, Vol. 2: Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ, BuxWV188; Passacaglia in D minor, BuxWV161; Praeludium in G minor, BuxWV
PERFORMER: Ton Koopman (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: CC 72242
Somewhat curiously Ton Koopman initiated his Buxtehude ‘complete works’ with discs of harpsichord, then vocal music. Only now with ‘opera omnia’ Volumes 3 and 4 does he turn to arguably the heart of Buxtehude’s art: the organ music. The son of an organist, Buxtehude spent his working life inhabiting the organ loft – from 1668 that (or rather, those!) of Lubeck’s famous Marienkirche. And from here his influence spread, notably ensnaring the young JS Bach. Most intriguing of all Koopman’s first harvest, then, is a substantial Chorale Fantasy on ‘Nun freut euch lieben’, only unearthed last year in a manuscript copied by the orphaned young Bach while lodging with his elder brother. Koopman’s amiable and meticulous performance underscores the fecundity which must have excited the 13-year-old ‘apprentice’.
Each disc explores a historic German organ chosen to match the supposed tuning requirements of the music. Whereas the Nicolai Kirche Altenbruch boasts an accommodating ‘Werkmeister’,
those allergic to meantone may
find the pungency of the Jacobi Kirche Lüdingworth bracing.
Needless to say, Koopman rises to the invitation of Buxtehude’s ‘stylus phantasticus’ with panache, though the excitement sometimes turns garbled. And more spaciousness would have given the chorale elaborations room to breath. But both instruments are imaginatively explored from ‘pleno’ to the jangly clatter of the cimbelstern, and if a whiff of didacticism sometimes creeps in, Koopman can never be accused of tolerating cobwebs. ‘Pedals? Who needs them?’ shrieks the concluding manualiter G minor Prelude before signing off with a flutey shrug. ‘Phantasticus’ indeed! Paul Riley