A sprited Buxtehude recording

Theatre of Voices lead by Paul Hillier reveal the depth of Buxtehude's Scandinavian Cantatas with wonderful clarity

Composer: Buxtehude
Repertoire: Scandinavian Cantatas 
Artists: Theatre of Voices/Paul Hillier
Rating:  4/5
Genre: Vocal
Label: Da Capo 6.220534

The Music: The title is a misnomer: although Buxtehude was born and brought up in Denmark, most of these cantatas were probably composed for St. Mary’s church in Lübeck, where he was organist for 40 years until his death in 1707. They are short choral pieces of great charm in Latin and Swedish. 

The Performance: Theatre of Voices is a Danish group under an English conductor. Singing one-to-a-part, they produce splendidly full tone. Pange lingua gloriosi is a blend of sacred concerto and aria, the latter sung in forthright fashion by the countertenor William Purefoy. In Herren vår Gud, one of the two Swedish numbers, the group sings the chorale – a Lutheran hymn – with dignified simplicity. Both pieces are among those which include a string ensemble; the old-fashioned Missa alla brevis, with only organ accompaniment, comes across with great clarity. 

The Verdict: These fine cantatas show that Buxtehude was much more than just a predecessor of Bach. The performances are both spirited and spiritual, and there’s a bonus in two substantial pieces for organ. 

Want More? There are more Buxtehude cantatas performed by a group led by Emma Kirkby on Chandos (CHAN 0691 and CHAN 0723).