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 areRead more characterized by pronounced experimental features in both the scoring and the handling of the instruments.
Arcangelo makes the most of Buxtehude’s highly imaginative counterpoint, at times emphasizing the arresting dissonances and dramatic cadences that will remind more than a few listeners of similar moments in Bach’s chamber music.
– All Music Guide
A factor that has allowed Arcangelo to be so adaptable is the ever-effective policy of employing to-rate musicians; and, with violinist Sophie Gent and gambist Jonathan Manson proving master of this music’s sometimes virtuoso demands and Thomas Dunford among the most sought-after continuo lutenists of the moment, the standards here are as high as ever.
This exquisitely balanced recording instantly captures the sense of conversation between the instrumental parts, highlighting the egalitarian approach of Buxtehude's melodic writing. What's more, the content of these conversations allows us to glimpse the composer's esteemed artistic stature in miniature.
as if the ink were still wetOctober 1, 2017By Gilberto C. (Richmond, CA)See All My Reviews"They play with a freshness and conviction, as if the ink were still wet, as if the score was just freshly received from the composer himself. This is music that could be played with reserve --- as sometimes present in the rendition done by Manfredo Kraemer et al --- but such playing would be a disservice to the adventurous genius of Buxtehude, his use of sudden contrasts in mood and demand for rhythmic and expressive dash, not to mention his harmonic piquancy. The stylus fantasticus. Archangelo violinist Sophie Gent, viola da gambist Jonathan Manson, lutenist Thomas Dunford, and Jonathan Cohen, director and harpsichordist -- have chosen to render the opus with a vivacity, a musicality that surely is what Buxtehude would have expected in his day. Cohen and Dunford realize a supportive and propelling basso continuo, with moments of background commentary. There are moments of imitative exchange between Gent and Manson, to be expected given Buxtehudes mastery of counterpoint, but Manson shoulders much of the music, playing with expressive verve even searing at times. All in all, ensemble playing at its best. While Arcangelos playing is superb, this wonderful recording would not be possible without the genius of Buxtehude: this is an Opus 1 in name only! The opus could hold its own against the chamber music of any great present-day composer, say Krzysztof Meyer. Listening to this recording, one understands why someone would walk 250 miles and go AWOL for months just to learn from Buxtehude."Report Abuse