Fresh and vital quality (Buxtehude CD)

01.11.10, David's Review Corner

Scandinavian Cantatas, Dacapo Records

Always considered a German composer, Dietrich Buxtehude was probably born in Denmark where he spent his first thirty years before moving to Lubeck in 1667. He would have been familiar with the Swedish language, and, working as a church organist, would have gained a knowledge of Latin. Though never holding a position that required him to compose vocal music, it is believed he composed early oratorios, the vocal music that has survived coming in a very diverse format. So why did he choose Swedish for works that probably come from his years in Lubeck? Often in a virtuoso style, the scene is here set by Pange Lingua Gloriosi, an outgoing piece at odds with its possible use in the distribution of communion. I much enjoyed both the four-part chorale, Herren var Gud, and Else Torp’s soprano solo, Att du Jesu vill mig Hora, while Missa alla Brevis is unique as being his only score strictly intended for liturgical use. It contains only the Kyrie and Gloria of the Catholic Mass, the intertwining strands creating a complex texture. The disc ends with a joyous Domine Salvum Fac Regem, the instrumental group having been excellent throughout. Paul Hillier’s conducting sweeps away dusty cobwebs. There is a learned period awareness, but also a fresh and vital quality that I particularly delight in. The disc is completed by two of Buxtehude’s organ works: the Preludium in E Minor and the D minor Passacaglia. Both are played by Bine Bryndorf with more brio than we normally encounter.

David Denton