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Buxtehude: Harpsichord Works / Wilson


Release Date: 03/22/2005 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557413   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Dietrich Buxtehude
Performer:  Glen Wilson
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 17 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Glen Wilson’s liner notes to this album point to the small number of harpsichord pieces composed by Buxtehude, and their burial at the back of organ editions, as reasons for their lack of popularity. Yet, it has to be admitted that the composer didn’t help matters. In 1739, 32 years after Buxtehude’s death, Johann Mattheson praised in print the quality of these works, and complained that Buxtehude never published any of it. Mattheson was certainly one to know; he had visited the older composer in 1703, studied his music repeatedly over the years, and was considered as a possible successor for organist at Lübeck’s celebrated Marienkirche. (He lost interest after being informed by the city council that the position required marrying Read more Buxtehude’s daughter. The custom of marrying the wife or daughter of one’s predecessor was once more common, and an ingeniously humane method of ensuring the well-being of those dearest to the last job-holder.) Some of the music Mattheson mentioned in passing is now lost, but according to the New Grove, a manuscript containing six variation sets and 19 suites survives.

Presumably, this is the source for much of the material Wilson performs, although the origins of the quasi-improvisatory Toccata and a couple of other selections on this release probably lie elsewhere. Some stylistic elements appear to indicate the organ loft as the inspiration; but if the Toccata is a transcription, it is a creative and successful one that draws attention to a witty, inventive, and technically brilliant piece of music. The other work most likely to evoke surprise in listeners unfamiliar with the composer’s harpsichord works is a set of 32 variations subtitled “La capricciosa.” Wilson makes excellent arguments for Bach’s knowledge of the piece, and his Goldberg Variations as a partial tribute. (Among other evidence, Buxtehude’s borrowed theme is in turn one of those Bach borrowed for his famous Quodlibet variation.) Bach would have appreciated the simplicity of the main theme, the all-encompassing emotional and textural variety among the variations, and the cumulative impact of the entire series. The quality of this pair of works is mirrored in the other, mostly shorter selections, evoking speculation about the composer’s motives for never publishing any of it.

Given that I disliked Glen Wilson’s release of harpsichord works by Louis Couperin, I doubted in advance the harpsichordist’s ability to render unto Buxtehude, Buxtehude’s due. I’m glad to write that my expectations weren’t met, and that this album provides a fine showcase both for performer and composer. Where Wilson was overly sober and slow in nearly all of the Couperin (including numerous selections that didn’t warrant this treatment), his tempos are more mercurial on this release. He treats ornamentation with a greater sense of confidence and ease, and demonstrates a naturally theatrical flair in the more dramatic pieces, such as the Toccata and the Praeludium in G Major. His sonorous instrument, a copy of a 1626 Ruckers by Jan van Schevikhoven, is also recorded somewhat closer and with more definition than the harpsichord used on that Couperin album. The result is a sound that still clearly aims to approach the organ in its plangency, but with more definition to Buxtehude’s musical contours. Recommended.

Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1. Variations (32) for Harpsichord in G major BuxWV 250 "La Capricciosa" by Dietrich Buxtehude
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Date of Recording: 07/2003 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 17 Minutes 41 Secs. 
2. Suite for Harpsichord in G minor by Dietrich Buxtehude
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2003 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 5 Minutes 17 Secs. 
3. Toccata for keyboard in G major, BuxWV 165 by Dietrich Buxtehude
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Date of Recording: 07/2003 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 4 Minutes 58 Secs. 
4. Auf meinen lieben Gott, BuxWV 179 by Dietrich Buxtehude
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Date of Recording: 07/2003 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 5 Minutes 36 Secs. 
5. Praeludium for keyboard in G minor, BuxWV 163 by Dietrich Buxtehude
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1690; Germany 
Date of Recording: 07/2003 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 5 Minutes 26 Secs. 
6. Aria and Variations (3) for Harpsichord in A minor, BuxWV 249 by Dietrich Buxtehude
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Date of Recording: 07/2003 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 6 Minutes 44 Secs. 
7. Canzonetta for Organ in G major, BuxWV 171 by Dietrich Buxtehude
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Date of Recording: 07/2003 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 2 Minutes 6 Secs. 
8. Praeludium for keyboard in G minor, BuxWV 163 by Dietrich Buxtehude
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1690; Germany 
Date of Recording: 07/2003 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 7 Minutes 31 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Toccata in G major, BuxWV 165
La Capricciosa in G major, BuxWV 250: Variations 1-8
La Capricciosa in G major, BuxWV 250: Variations 9-16
La Capricciosa in G major, BuxWV 250: Variations 17-24
La Capricciosa in G major, BuxWV 250: Variations 25-32
Auf meinen lieben Gott, BuxWV 179: I. Allemande and Double
Auf meinen lieben Gott, BuxWV 179: II. Sarabande
Auf meinen lieben Gott, BuxWV 179: III. Courante
Auf meinen lieben Gott, BuxWV 179: IV. Gigue
Praeludium in G major, BuxWV 162: Prelude in G major, BuxWV 162
Aria with 3 variations in A minor, BuxWV 249: Air with Two Variations in A minor, BuxWV 249
Praeludium in G minor, BuxWV 163: Prelude in G minor, BuxWV 163
Suite in G minor, BuxWV 241: I. Allemande
Suite in G minor, BuxWV 241: II. Courante
Suite in G minor, BuxWV 241: III. Sarabande
Suite in G minor, BuxWV 241: IV. Gigue
Canzonetta in G major, BuxWV 171

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