Buxtehude: Harpsichord Works, Vol. 2

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Buxtehude
LABELS: Challenge
ALBUM TITLE: Buxtehude
WORKS: Harpsichord Works, Vol. 2: BuxWV 165, 166, 168, 227, 229, 236, 237, 239, 240, 241, 244, 246, 248, 249 etc
PERFORMER: Ton Koopman (harpsichord)


Ton Koopman opened his ‘complete works’ Buxtehude project with a volume devoted to that Cinderella of the composer’s output: the harpsichord music. Having detoured into vocal and organ music, Koopman now returns to the harpsichord, and draws a line under one facet of the great Dane’s instrumental personality. In the event, the two volumes comprise four discs rather than the three Koopman anticipated, but since the last is only 35 mins, a little reconfiguring might have proved his instincts correct. And in any event, whilst this latest volume certainly doesn’t feel like a ‘mopping-up’ operation, the extended Capricciosa ‘partite’ and ‘Palatino’ variations can both be found in Vol. 1. Of a similar scale to the latter, the Aria in C, BuxWV 246, finds Koopman radiating an easy authority, and although his breathless energy can come across as a little peremptory at times, there’s nonetheless an engaging bucolic swagger to the F major Suite, BuxWV 239 (the rediscovered A minor Suite makes its disc debut), and the C major Canzona, BuxWV 166, emerges brilliant and pithy. Where there are overlaps with Lars Ulrik Mortensen, whose survey is currently being reissued on Naxos, Koopman’s is invariably the edgier rendition – partly a matter of temperament (his own and the tuning!), and also because the very ‘present’ recorded sound gives a quill’s-ear view. Overall, this is an invigorating addition to a fascinating unfolding portrait. Paul Riley