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5.0 out of 5 stars
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5.0 out of 5 stars

TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 October 2013
This is a fabulous programme of sacred cantatas by Buxtehude, from a Swedish ensemble whom I had not heard until now. The magnificently ornamented opening chord of the very first item, Buxtehude's richly scored double-choir "Benedicam Dominum", immediately sets the tone - clearly Göteborg Baroque are a first-class early music ensemble and a great credit to their director Magnus Kjellson. The well-chosen and varied selection of works for accompanied solo and concerted voices gives ample opportunities for singers and period instruments alike to shine, and they respond with stylish, spirited and committed performances, exuberant and sensitive as appropriate.

The cantata for solo bass "Ich bin die Auferstehung" (track 3), for example, comes off beautifully, with a fine rendition of the solo part from Jan H Börjesson accompanied by rich instrumental scoring, altogether an exciting and highly effective piece. "Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe" (BuxWV38, track 4) is also given a clean, stylish and expressive performance, although with a slight edge to the soprano voice on some notes which some listeners may like more than others. "An filius non est Dei" (5) is a piece in more archaic style, fairly unusual among Buxtehude's cantatas. The final work, "Alles was ihr tut" (6) is a delight, superbly done here by singers and players alike. As elsewhere, the voices are finely matched in the concerted passages and the instrumental parts are beautifully taken.

There are at least twenty or so CD collections available of Buxtehude's sacred cantatas, offering numerous combinations of works - for collectors a veritable minefield, and I use that word for good reason. Among those discs known to me, I would thoroughly recommend the following: Buxtehude: Scandinavian Cantata (Missa Brevis/ Four Latin Cantatas Etc.),Buxtehude: Cantatas,Dietrich Buxtehude: Eine Lübecker Abendmusik,Buxtehude: O Fröhliche Stunden-Cantates,Buxtehude: Sacred Cantatas,O Gottes Stadt, O Guildnes Licht Kantaten, and Cantatas & Sonatas - this latter my own personal favourite for its soprano singing, its instrumental work and above all for its heavenly rendition of "Quemadmodum desiderat cervus"; its director, William Dongois, also graces the present disc with his magical cornetto playing. Returning to that minefield I mentioned, I've not been at all impressed with the examples I've heard from the complete series under Ton Koopman on the Challenge label - a great disappointment, as I would have expected better.

But this present programme from the excellent Göteborg Baroque ensemble is one of the very best Buxtehude discs I've heard and, without hesitation, it now joins my favourites as listed above. Useful notes in a well-illustrated booklet complete the picture, and I can't imagine any Buxtehude fan being less than delighted with the choice of works and with these performances.
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