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Buxtehude Organ Works—Hans Davidsson

Volume 1: Buxtehude and the Mean-Tone Organ (2 CDs)
Volume 2: The Bach Perspective (2 CDs)
Volume 3: Buxtehude and the Schnitger Organ (3 CDs)

Hans Davidsson at the North German Baroque Organ, Gothenburg, Sweden

Loft records LRDD 1090-91;1092-93 & 1094-96

This is a staggering scholastic achievement and an overwhelming artistic experience, aided by superb recorded quality and presentation.

Diderich ‘Hansen’ Buxtehude (1637–1707), long known because of Bach's long walk to hear him play, comes into his own with the reconstruction of a Schnitger organ sited in the Örgryte nya kyrka in Gothenburg, Sweden.

For our ears, the music has an added piquancy because mean-tone tuning is adopted. Research had shown that the organ works of Buxtehude were written in a context where mean-tone temperament was an important ingredient, and this aspect of the performances sharpens one's ears and assists concentration.

Buxtehude's vast oeuvre is popular with organists and their followers of today because it is "full of the fantasy, variety and unpredictability that characterise seventeenth century music" [Kerala Snyder]; we certainly have a penchant for that century, having been brought up on more music of the 18th C.

In addition to the lavishly illustrated booklets (I loved a picture of happy "bellows treaders"!) there is a mine of additional information on Gothic's website [do click on the link and explore !] - enough there to keep you occupied for many hours, and so seductive that you will be inclined to keep one or other of these discs on the CD player for too long.

For those who may prefer a more "normal" organ experience, Christopher Herrick is working through the Complete Works of Buxtehude, and his Volume 3, recorded at the specially chosen Organ of St-Louis-en-l'Isle in Paris, built from 2002 to a design based upon Hildebrandt, a Silbemann pupil, and considered ideal for Bach and his North German contemporaries and predecessors should not be overlooked [Hyperion LC7533].

Further opinions from organist specialists will be welcomed, but meanwhile, buy and immerse !

Peter Grahame Woolf