Ton Koopman

Buxtehude: Opera Omnia VI

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Under the Antoine Marchand (that's Ton Koopman in French, or Anthony Merchant in English) imprint of the Challenge Classics label, Dutch early music veteran Ton Koopman recording the large corpus of surviving works by Dietrich Buxtehude, inspired by the tercentary of the composer's death in 1707. All initial indications are that few other musicians could have done this at all, and probably no one could have done it as well. Consider the diverse styles Koopman applies to the harpsichord and organ pieces recorded in the early discs in the series. Whereas he gives adventurous, fantastic readings of the organ works, rooted in Buxtehude's reputation as an improviser Bach walked hundreds of miles to see, in the harpsichord music he is much more straightforward -- brisk and sparkling, using modern copies of a variety of early keyboard instruments. Buxtehude's harpsichord music remains relatively little played. Apparently written for a commercial amateur market, it includes lively French-style dance suites as well as a few polyphonic canzonas and fugues that could probably be played on either harpsichord or organ. It has less of the intense, personal quality that makes Buxtehude's organ music (and a good deal of his small-scale vocal music) so distinctive, but it is still recognizable as a product of his muse, with unpredictable turns and, as realized by Koopman from problematic existing editions, plenty of room for a virtuoso player. Those wanting to sample just one of Koopman's Buxtehude's keyboard discs might try the Harpsichord Works, Vol. 1, release that is a companion disc to this one, for it contains Buxtehude's single most remarkable (and single most popular) harpsichord piece, the giant fusion of dance suite and variation set known as La Capricciosa. The lover of Baroque keyboard music will find plenty to enjoy here as well, however.

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