Buxtehude: Organ Works, Vol. 1: Chorale Fantasia, ‘Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein’ BuxWV 210; plus BuxWV 139, 150, 151, 157, 159, 162, 168, 174, 178, 179, 184, 195, 205, 208 & 221

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COMPOSERS: Buxtehude
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Buxtehude
WORKS: Organ Works, Vol. 1: Chorale Fantasia, ‘Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein’ BuxWV 210; plus BuxWV 139, 150, 151, 157, 159, 162, 168, 174, 178, 179, 184, 195, 205, 208 & 221
PERFORMER: Christopher Herrick (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67666

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With the complete Bach organ works under his belt, Herrick turns his completist gaze on Buxtehude – and what a crowded market place he’s stepping into! Naxos is on Vol. 7, Bine Bryndorf has brought the oeuvre in at six volumes for Dacapo, while Ton Koopman is settling for nothing less than the Opera Omnia, as his series on Challenge Classics styles itself. Herrick’s journey starts in Helsingør (Hamlet’s Elsinore) where Papa Buxtehude was active for 30 years and where Dietrich played the organ at St  Mary’s before Lübeck beckoned. He’s opted for the Andersen organ in the Cathedral and a magnificent sound it makes too – not just in ‘pleno’ but also as explored in Herrick’s imaginative registrations. Herrick’s razor-sharp articulation is at one with Buxtehude’s fastidiously chiselled counterpoint, though he’s less bold than Koopman (who isn’t?) when it comes to embracing the stylus fantasticus: compare their respective takes on the Toccata in  F, Herrick blazing majestically, Koopman spoiling for a fight. A brisk C minor Ciaccona might suggest suppleness is rationed, but the tremulant-rich chorale prelude on ‘Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder’ wants for nothing in terms of expressive pathos. An auspicious beginning. Paul Riley