Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Dietrich Buxtehude, Manfred Cordes, Weser-Renaissance|
Dietrich Buxtehude: Das Jüngste Gericht [Selections]
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Buxtehude? or Joe the Organist?
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 02/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The evidence that the music on this CD was composed by the great Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707) wouldn't stand up in court, being circumstantial at best. It's well known that Buxtehude, as well as his predecessor Franz Tunder, were expected to compose music for the 'Abendmusiken' at St. Mary's Church in Lübeck, to be performed publicly on the five Thursdays before Christmas. It's known that Buxtehude coaxed forth substantial financial support from the wealthy merchants of the old Hanseatic city. It's probable that the Evening Music compositions were semi-dramatic oratorios in lieu of liturgical services, with pietist texts, yet were intended to be entertaining as well as devout. However, not a single page of music absolutely associated with the Evenings has survived. This selection of arias, terzettos, recitativos, choruses, and symphonies is taken from a single manuscript preserved in Stockholm, with neither title nor attribution to any composer. The text is in German, is unutterably pietistic, and would very likely have amused the sober merchants who stopped to hear their lavish concerts on their way to the bourse. The music is lively, dance-like, charmingly varied in vocal texture and in instrumentation, and - to modern sensibilities anyway - completely disrelated to the sense of the text. Thank goodness for that, my dears! Cognitive dissonance isn't always such a bad thing. The text runs something like this throughout:
The Bad Soul: O! Great fear and terror break my heart into a thousand pieces, with thunder above and below the worst sort of woe! O woe! I'm lost! I'm cursed!
Terzetto (Trio): Die! Mad man, die! And rot eternally!
Like those old merchants, the Bremen-based Weser-Renaissance ensemble has spared no expenses and scanted no musical resources in performing The Last Judgement. The corps of soloists is superb: sopranos Ulrika Hofbauer and Monika Mauch, alto Henning Voss, tenor Hans-Jörg Mammel, and bass Harry von der Kamp. The orchestra includes two violins, three gambas, an early bassoon, two chitarrone lutes, harp, harpsichord, and organ. Sometimes a glorious performance can transcend any unevenness of composition. That's certainly the case here. None of the music is inadequate, mind you! It's really quite inventive and, yes, entertaining, for an oratorio that concludes by consigning all fornicators, dogs, and sorcerers to the outer darkness. None of it is compositionally exceptional, nevertheless; there were at least two dozen composers in Northern Germany and Denmark who could have written all or part of this opus. Personally, I suspect it was composed on the model of a painting by Rubens, with Buxtehude or someone assigning arias and recitativos to his assistants and students. Rubens, you ought to know, painted only the lovely nudes; on that basis, I'll assume that Buxtehude wrote the arias for The Good Soul and The Godly Voice.
There are TWO recording of Das Jüngste Gericht! The other is by Musica Fiata, but I haven't heard it. This CD is quite a joy, if you like German Baroque, and I can recommend it without reservation on its own terms, even if it's not clearly the work of Buxtehude."