J. William Greene

Buxtehude at Lynchburg

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The Buxtehude at Lynchburg title of this album refers to the hit (insofar as any album containing music of Buxtehude can be called a hit) album Buxtehude at L√ľneburg, released by organist E. Power Biggs in the 1960s. It replicates the contents of that album and adds a few other short Buxtehude pieces to fill out the CD space. The organ played here, at Lynchburg, VA's Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, was built in 1990 and is thus a mere 440 years newer than the actual L√ľneburg instrument Biggs used. The Lynchburg organ has a pleasing transparency of tone that works to excellent effect on the various Buxtehude chorale preludes recorded here, and the album (and any others that use the instrument) might be recommended for use in classes focusing on German organ genres -- you can hear every line in the texture, with the composer's treatment of the existing chorale tune coming through sharply. Organist J. William Greene aids the listener in the seven chorale preludes with his precise playing, but elsewhere he has a somewhat mechanical quality. The Praeludium in C major, BuxWV 137 (track 3), whose monumental concluding fugue was one of the towering joys of the Biggs album, comes off as nervous and pinched here, and the tripping quality of the "Jig" Fugue in C major, BuxWV 174 (track 8), doesn't come through. This album represents a tribute to Biggs, and it may seem ungracious to suggest that listeners return to the subject of the tribute. But reissues of the Biggs album, although not exactly crowding the shelves of every megastore, are out there if you look for them. Editorial errors in the booklet here ("tells us much about not only Dieterich Buxtehude, but also E. Power Biggs attitude toward his music") detract from the overall presentation.

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