BUXTEHUDE: Membra Jesu Nostri – The Netherlands Bach Society – Jos van Veldhoven, conductor – Channel Classics

by | Jun 30, 2006 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

BUXTEHUDE: Membra Jesu Nostri – The Netherlands Bach Society – Jos van Veldhoven, conductor – Channel Classics  Multichannel SACD CCS SA 24006, 72 min. ****:

Dietrich Buxtehude came to prominence in Germany in the mid-1600s and followed in the long-established German tradition of organ composition; he’s generally considered the most important German composer preceding J.S. Bach. His compositions for organ and his many cantatas are widely considered the models for Bach and his contemporaries. Unfortunately, very few of Buxtehude’s written compositions have survived; only a few volumes of his works were published during his lifetime. Bach himself was instrumental in preserving some of Buxtehude’s organ works; the popularity of Buxtehude’s cantatas helped guarantee their preservation. A very lucky happenstance came through Buxtehude’s association with contemporary and fellow composer Gustav Duben; though the Swedish Duben was generally not a very good composer, he was rather taken with Buxtehude and collected many works of the day, including many of Buxtehude’s cantatas. Those works were collected and preserved in the Uppsala University Library in Sweden; this particular cantata – widely considered the model for Bach’s and others passions – came from that collection.

Channel Classics chose to release this disc on the same day as Harmonia Mundi released the same title; and although the discs share the same marquee work, they each combine different fillers, making each a worthy acquisition for Buxtehude aficionados. This disc offers a slightly different instrumental complement from HM’s version with the inclusion of the theorbo. The performance is presented on authentic instruments; the addition of the theorbo, to my ears, gives this disc a richer instrumental presentation that is doubly enhanced by the SACD’s surround content. The singers employed here are particularly effective, especially soprano Johannette Zomer, whose superb voice shines here as on previous Channel Classic releases.

For lovers of Buxtehude and authentic period performance, this disc is a no-brainer, and is a superb multichannel listening experience. Highly recommended.

— Tom Gibbs

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