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Buxtehude Suites and Variations

Soundboard SBCD 207 [78 mins]

Colin Booth, maker of this harpsichord (a copy of the 1681 Vaudry in the Victoria and Albert Museum) is recorded playing it himself, at his home-studio in Westbury sub Mendip, for his contribution to Buxtehude's tercentenary.

Booth's notes tease out the complicated relationships between this senior composer (1637-1707) who had visits from the young JS Bach (walking 200 miles to Lubeck) and from Handel and Matheson (composing double-fugues in their coach !). None of them, says Colin Booth, was prepared to marry Buxtehude's daughter to secure a post as his successor...

Booth's Buxtehude selection has four of the Suites and three sets of variations, 58 tracks which should not, of course, be listened to straight through. The largest group is an incomplete performance of some twenty of the older composer's Aria and 32 variations La Capricieuse, which prompted Bach to counter with his 32 Goldbergs. Those chosen span a wide range of inventiveness, ingenuity and emotional depth, and are good to know; without their challenge, Bach might never have created his masterpiece.

It is all enjoyable music and sounds good on this sweet-toned instrument, whose beauties are wll demonstrated. Booth has an easy command of the French notes inégales style, which gives the playing a naturalness. How many other makers combine their craft with consummate ability to play their instruments at high professional standard?


Peter Grahame Woolf

See Musical Pointers' reviews of Colin Booth playing this instrument in Greenwich, and of some of his many CDs.
I have had an opportunity to hear those of English composers William Croft and Peter Philips. The former pleasant, small beer perhaps; the latter quite other, splendid music by The English Exile, who lived abroad because of religious dissensions of the time. The larger pieces have a timeless quality, as if they could roll on forever, my wife suggested. Not to be missed.

There is also a Hyperion CD of Philips' harpsichord music: 'The complete restoration of a great composer's name may be beyond the capacity of a single CD, but if anything can do the trick, this one ought to.'(CDReview)