Buxtehude and his circle

Theatre of Voices, Paul Hiller
Da Capo 6.220634

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his recording owes at least something to a concert I heard in Copenhagen when I was there for the annual Renaissance Festival as the organiser’s guest, since I had suggested that they celebrate the 300th anniversary of the death of Christian Geist, who had lived, worked and died in that city. The programme is not quite the same, but there are still two works by Geist on offer: His setting of Dixit Dominus  (by using the Erbe Deutscher Musik edition, they missed out a whole passage of tenor part that had slipped the editor’s notice!) and his “affective” Die mit Tränen säen. Buxtehude similarly is represented by two works: His Gott, hilf mir  and Jesu, meine Freude  are both rightfully well known and their influence on the young J. S. Bach is undeniable! His father-in-law Tunder’s Dominus illuminatio mea  is an impressive piece, indeed, while Bruhns’ bass tour de force, a virtuoso setting of De profundis clamavi, is no less so, and Kaspar Förster (the younger)’s Confitebor tibi Domini  brings a wonderful survey of music with which Buxtehude was most likely familiar to a rousing close. Throughout the singing and playing are of the highest order, and the solo bass also contributes a fine booklet essay, tying all the composers together in a readable narrative. The sung texts are translated into English only, which I don’t suppose will pose much of a problem from the majority of Danes – I wonder how successful it would be the other way around!

Brian Clark

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