Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707) was a musician of German ancestry who grew up in Denmark, attaining citizenship in 1668. Buxtehude was organist and choirmaster at St. Marys in Lübeck for over 30 years, where he was highly revered, and highly compensated for his services as organist and composer.
The exquisite Channel disc presents a collection of seven cantatas under the title, Membra Jesu Nostri. Each individual cantata was preceded by a Biblical quote, though the cycle was not intended for liturgical use. It was scored for five soloists with varied instrumental accompaniment. The Netherlands Bach Society, which in my experience has only recorded near-perfect performances, sings and plays these pieces with intimacy, subtle inflection, perfect intonation, and careful attention to the texts. To listen to these works in a distraction free, dimly lit space could provide a profound spiritual experience.
As an organist, Buxtehude was expected to play the organ for all major services at St. Marys. Vol. 4 of Da Capos series essaying his organ works offers compositions that can use the pure quarter-comma meantone tuning of the "Düben organ" used for the recording. The tuning system, only usable for music in certain keys, produces a purity of sound that can be heard as a simple sweetness in three canzonettas and a handful of chorale preludes, as well as a dramatic clarity in the larger preludes and toccatas. Organist Bine Byrndorf knows both the instrument and the music well, and her readings seem ideal.
The regular stereo sound on each of these hybrid discs is excellent, but on turning to the multichannel presentation one is struck by the accuracy of SACD in re-creating acoustic spaces that are quite different from one another.
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