Notes and Editorial Reviews
This ought to be the primary destination for collectors.
This is the fifth and last volume in Christopher Herrick's recording for Hyperion of Buxtehude's complete organ works. Previous volumes were all universally lauded. Propelled by what was the likely tricentenary of Buxtehude's birth in 2007, there are now, happily, scores of CDs of his organ music, including a good few complete recordings: on MDG Gold (MDG3141438), Loft Recordings, Naxos (final volume, Dacapo, Vox (CD6X-3613), Documents (224050, also on Classico ClassCD143 and previously on Paula Records) and Danacord (DACOCD 381-386). Besides Herrick on Hyperion, Ton Koopman also has an unfolding full set on Challenge Classics. It’s part of a complete works
project, standing at volume 16 (CC 72255) by the end of 2012.
As with most of the previous volumes, Herrick's generously-timed programme consists of an entertaining mix of items, mainly Praeludia or Chorale Preludes. Slower, ruminative pieces alternate with boisterous, dramatic works in a recital that manages to be both elegant and fulgurous, profound and sensuous. Works generally run to less than four minutes each, but short does not equate with inconsequential in Buxtehude's music: even the merest pieces speak volumes about the composer's imagination, virtuosity and originality.
For this final recording Herrick has, quite reasonably, returned to Denmark - a country which, it is easy to overlook, Buxtehude recognised as his motherland. The church at Mariager was already 250 years old when Buxtehude started composing; the organ, by contrast, could scarcely be newer: it was built by French organ maker Bernard Aubertin between 2007 and 2010. Its sound is therefore modern, but aesthetically rounded.
Audio has been marvellously captured by Hyperion's engineer, Simon Eadon, although the sharpest ears will note that the final milliseconds of each track have been artificially faded to silence. There can be no good reason for this, but it really is only a fraction of a second, and most listeners will surely not notice … or possibly care. The church acoustics are subtle and kind.
Herrick was almost seventy when this recording was made, the latest in an exclusive contract for Hyperion that has led to a discography of more than forty albums in a quarter of a century. Yet his fingers, feet and musical intelligence remain as nimble and sure as ever, and there is always room for another complete cycle of Buxtehude's organ works when the music is this good or performed this well. Price issues aside, this set ought to be the primary destination for collectors.
As usual with Hyperion, the CD booklet gives excellent information in English, French and German on the music, track by track, as well as a full description of the organ, including registrations for each of the pieces, and a black and white photo - colour in the digital booklet available here - of the instrument itself.
-- Byzantion, MusicWeb International
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