Notes and Editorial Reviews
Preludia: in D,
, BuxWV 162;
Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein
. Fuga in C,
Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder. Ich dank dir schon durch deinen Sohn.
Canzona in d,
class="ARIAL12bi">Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist.
Ciaccona in c,
Toccata in F,
Magnificat noni toni
, BuxWV 205.
Auf meinen lieben Gott. Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott
Christopher Herrick (org)
HYPERION 67666 (78:05)
31:6 I reviewed another Christopher Herrick release on Hyperion, a volume from the “Organ Fireworks” series. I singled out the two works of Buxtehude on that CD as particular highlights. Thus, I was pleased to receive this new offering, the first in Herrick’s complete Buxtehude organ cycle for Hyperion. Though renowned primarily for his performances of 19th- and 20th-century music, these recordings continue prove (as did his cycle of Bach’s organ music) that Herrick is equally adept in earlier repertoire.
With the 300th anniversary of Buxtehude’s death during the 2006–07 concert season, his music has been even more widely heard than usual on recent organ recitals. There are a number of complete Buxtehude organ music cycles on recordings, but even after one volume, I feel that Herrick stacks up extremely well against my previous personal favorite—Hans Davidsson on Loft. Davidsson (like many other organists who approach this repertoire) uses instruments in period temperaments, including mean-tone organs. Though Herrick is clearly not adverse to this approach (his recording of the music of Sweelinck makes use of a mean-tone instrument), this Buxtehude recording is made on the 1969 Andersen organ of Helsingør Cathedral in St. Olai, Denmark; it is a mechanical action instrument whose superb articulation and color fit this music very well. As I said in my previous commentary on Herrick and this repertoire, “For this listener, early-Baroque German organ literature is most effective when played with a sense of glee, reveling at the free-wheeling, ‘jump-cut’ sense of structure.” Herrick’s performances are thus very characterful, embracing fully of the spirit of the music
Through no fault of Herrick or Hyperion, I believe that this disc is best experienced in partial bursts. Even though the repertoire has been chosen with the intent of creating a diverse program, “Buxtehude fatigue” sets in by the midpoint when the same musical devices recur with frequency. The repertoire chosen for this first volume encompasses some of the most familiar of Buxtehude’s works (e.g., Toccata in F and
Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist
) as well as a number of works that are less often heard in concert. Interspersed between the freely structured concert pieces are some of Buxtehude’s chorale preludes. Though not as much fun as the preludes and fantasias, it is easy to see why these very expressive miniatures (and Buxthude’s output as a whole) were held in such high esteem by J. S. Bach.
Herrick is one of the finest organists of our time, and Hyperion is probably the best record label today for recorded organ sound. For organ music enthusiasts, this disc is self-recommending. For others who are less familiar with this repertoire, Herrick’s Buxtehude is a wonderful introduction to music of great character.
FANFARE: Carson Cooman
Works on This Recording
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