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Sacred Vocal Music - Released June 8, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
In 1668, Dietrich Buxtehude, then thirty one years old, took up the very sought-after tenure of organist at the Marienkirche in Lübeck, then a Hanseatic metropolis of considerable relevance; the organist had at that time one of the most desirable social statuses. He soon caused a sensation with the church concerts he held outside of religious services and that happened every year, in the early evening, on the five Sundays preceding Christmas. During these “Abendmusiken” (vespertine music), as they were called, were sometimes performed great works falling withing the oratorio genre, but more often was performed a mix of instrumental pieces, church tunes, psalm arrangements and cantata-like works. From the 1700s, these series of concerts had become a major cultural event of the city. Released from the daily handling of religious music handled by the Marienkirche’s Cantor—as was often the case at the time in North Germany—, Buxtehude only composed works on his own initiative, which allowed him to give them a quality level noticeably higher than that of the Cantor, for example, forced to compose non-stop, from one Sunday to another. The cantatas recorded here demonstrate the high artistic ambitions of these vocal works: they often digress from stylistic and generic conventions of their time and answer the tasks imposed by the texts with bold musical solutions, daring and absolutely splendid. The sonatas from Buxtehude completing the vocal program of this disc are also characterized by their markedly experimental character. Olivier Fortin’s Masques Ensemble—recorder, strings, positive organ—and Lionel Meunier’s Vox Luminis join forces to offer us these gems from the turn of the North German 18th century, such gems that the young Bach didn’t hesitate, in 1705, to travel on foot from Arnstadt—a 100-league trip—to come listen to Buxtehude, his organ play and probably his famous Abendmusiken. © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released February 3, 2017 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année
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Classical - Released January 8, 2008 | Mirare

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Classical - Released April 3, 2012 | Accent

Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released February 1, 2003 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released July 7, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet
For this recording of music by Buxtehude, Jonathan Cohen, founder of the ensemble Arcangelo, is joined by a distinguished trio, including two regulars on the Alpha label, Sophie Gent and Thomas Dunford, alongside the gambist Jonathan Manson. Although Dietrich Buxtehude is famous above all for his organ music and cantatas, and for the long journey the young Bach undertook to meet him, his chamber music is virtually unknown. In the mid-1690s, at the height of his fame, Buxtehude published two collections in rapid succession, each comprising seven sonatas for violin, viola da gamba and basso continuo. It is the works of the first collection (1694) – designated Opus 1 in the print – that Arcangelo has recorded here. These sonatas are characterised by pronounced experimental features in both the scoring and the handling of the instruments. © Outhere Music
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Classical - Released January 1, 2007 | CPO

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Cantatas (sacred) - Released July 1, 1997 | Naxos

Booklet
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Classical - Released April 6, 2009 | Ricercar

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Classical - Released September 20, 2007 | Challenge Classics

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Cantatas (sacred) - Released March 30, 2012 | Challenge Classics

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Chamber Music - Released March 10, 2008 | Arts Productions Ltd

Despite the prominence of Dietrich Buxtehude as both composer and organist, it's surprising that almost none of his music was published during his lifetime. In fact, the first set of published works (the Op. 1 Sonatas heard here) were published at his own expense. The Op. 1 Sonatas (and indeed, the Op. 2 Sonatas, also for the same instrumentation) consist of a set of seven sonatas for violin, viola da gamba, and harpsichord. The number seven was treated almost superstitiously by Buxtehude and others of his time; there are seven sonatas, many of which have seven distinct sections. The complexity and virtuosity of this set reveal the access that Buxtehude would have had to elite performers. He would likely have been satisfied by the performance given on this album by the ensemble L'Estravagante. Although little information is given about the performers in the otherwise informative liner notes, the three musicians function together as a refined, polished whole. Every aspect of the performance appears tightly unified, from articulation and ornamentation to phrasing and dynamics. The enhanced fidelity offered on the SACD layer of the disc allows listeners to truly immerse themselves in the detail and subtlety offered by L'Estravagante.
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Classical - Released January 1, 2007 | Ricercar

Although Dietrich Buxtehude was a forerunner of Bach in many genres, the cantata, oddly enough, was hardly among them. The cantatas collected on these two discs are works for one or two soloists with a small instrumental ensemble -- cantatas in the seventeenth century sense. There are no chorales involved, and some of the cantatas are divided up into short sections with different tempos, each responding to an affect expressed in the text. The "Dialogus inter Christam et fidelem animam" (Dialogue Between Christ and the Faithful Soul) is not a serene duet like so many of Bach's dialogic conceptions but a more philosophical piece. The cantatas are still obscure compared with some of Buxtehude's other sacred works, so this reissue (the recordings were made in the late '80s) is welcome. Buxtehude's way of embodying ideas and emotions in a few instrumental strokes is on display everywhere here, from abstract structures such as the chaconne-like "Laudate pueri Dominum" (Praise the Lord, you servants, CD 2, track 6) to the remarkable, highly personal "Klag-Lied" (Song of Lamentation, CD 2, track 9) with a text by Buxtehude himself written about the death of his own father, featuring particularly powerful tropes on conventional depictions of weeping. It would be great to see some of today's Baroque vocal specialists tackle these works anew, for they offer plenty to challenge any singer technically and emotionally. The singing on this release is generally attractive but could in many cases be more differentiated in its response to specific texts, and the recording of the instrumentalists is unpleasantly bright, bringing a reminder of the lack of warmth that caused many listeners to dislike compact discs at first. The set will nevertheless take you into a fascinating body of work.
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Chamber Music - Released March 10, 2008 | Arts Productions Ltd

Dietrich Buxtehude's chamber music, more modest in scope than his towering organ works, was meant to serve the needs of North Germany's growing muncipal music scenes of the late seventeenth century. The concerts for which these sonatas for violin, gamba, and cembalo -- not really trio sonatas in the Italian sense -- were written were the ancestors of true public concerts: gatherings of prosperous merchants whose Protestant tastes ran toward the serious and the rhetorically high-flown. The success of the enterprise is shown by the fact that Buxtehude had his Op. 1 set of sonatas printed at his own expense, but for these a publisher picked up the tab. Some of Buxtehude's music sounds like early Bach, but these sonatas not so much. From the track list they may look as though they're in typical three- or four-movement sonata patterns, but that's not really an accurate impression: they follow the model of earlier seventeenth century Italian sonatas, with each movement consisting of several smaller sections. To the pattern, superseded by the time Bach came along, Buxtehude added a liberal dose of the stylus phantasticus, interpreted with the composer's characteristically vigorous imagination. Consider the Sonata V in A major, BuxWV 263, which unexpectedly launches into a virtuoso episode for the violin. The second movement is even marked "solo" (the continuo accompaniment continues), with a variety of multiple-stop theatrics, and the solo continues into the third and fourth movements in varying modes; the third movement is in the old concitato style. Plowing through the six sonatas in order might not seem to be terribly imaginative programming, but the variety of these works, no two of which follow a pattern in overall shape or expression, holds the listener's interest. The readings by the new Italian trio calling itself L'Estravagante are superb, combining an intimate quality appropriate to the scale of the music with an appreciation of Buxtehude's free spirit. The Super Audio sound (realized here on a good conventional stereo) is impressively clear, but the gamba tends to get short shrift compared with the violin. The booklet notes are informative but needed editorial work that would have caught such errors as the assertion that Buxtehude's predecessor Reinken lived from 1623 to 1772.
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Classical - Released July 1, 2014 | Accent

Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles de Classica
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Classical - Released October 1, 2012 | Brilliant Classics

Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released August 7, 2015 | OnClassical

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released January 3, 2012 | Accent

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles de Classica
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Classical - Released October 1, 2013 | Pan Classics

Booklet