BUXTEHUDE'S OPERATIC TENDENCIES! (NO KIDDING!)
Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707)was one of the most prolific composers of his time, his scope including liturgical music, cantatas and oratorical works for services and concerts,solo arias and organ preludes, fugues, toccatas, chorale variations and fantasias, and chamber music including nineteen keyboard suites.
This oratorio represents a major, heretofore unknown vocal work by this great North German composer that all baroque fans may enjoy. Although its origin is sketchy, it may well have been written for the 'Evening Music' series of public concerts that Buxtehude organized and promoted at his church in Lubeck. It survived only a set of incomplete parts, but thanks to extensive scholarly work and research by Koopman, we now have his very impressive reconstruction of it premiered on these discs. This is like no other Buxtehude you've ever heard before, because it's very lyrical with passages that are quite operatic.
Though it is arguable that Buxtehude was Bach's greatest precursor, it would be foolish to think of his vast output merely as a preparation for Bach. Buxtehude's music deserves to stand at the summit of his age in its own right.
Tom Koopman's new edition of "Das jungste Gericht" (The Last Judgement) is strictly faithful to the sources and preserves the three-part division of the Oratorio.
In Act 1 of "Wacht! Euch zum Streit gefasset macht" the singing roles are assigned to the allegorical figures Greed,Heedlessness and Pride(three sopranos) and to the Voice of God (bass); in Acts II and III the solo voices are not assigned to any specific roles and show signs of inconsistency in this regard. The choir,which sings frequently, is 5-voice throughout. The instruments are limited to strings and continuo.
This is definitely operatic in nature with some very dramatic moments.
The performance is up-beat and never dull, and very well executed, as one might expect from Koopman. IN fact it's all outstanding vocally and instrumentally. The 3 sopranos had clear, clean voices with a truly lovely tone quality. The tenor and bass sang skillfully and very dramatically in many of their renditions. Robin Blaze, countertenor, handled his part with expertise, good diction and a 'pretty' sound. I would have liked to hear a little more drama from him, but that's not his style. This is the kind of music that Andreas Scholl does well because of his knowledge of German; he gets all the nuances as only a 'native' can do. Just my opinion.
I have enjoyed this recording several times over, and I never tire of hearing it.