The change to even-tempered tuning was made in 1683 on the organ at Buxtehude's church, St. Mary's in Lübeck. This event marks a clear dividing point in Buxtehude's works, between compositions of unadventurous tonality and harmony, written prior to 1683, and later pieces in relatively remote keys that required more complex modulations. For this recording, the second in his excellent series of Buxtehude's organ music for MD&G, Harald Vogel demonstrates the differences on two instruments: the organ in Sts. Cosmas and Damian, Stade, which is maintained in the meantone system; and the organ at the Georgskirche, Weener, which is tuned to even temperament. The old tuning is quite noticeable in the first six tracks, and the music is strictly constrained to such "safe" keys as C and G major, D minor, and the Dorian mode. The remaining pieces, all written after 1683, venture further into the keys of G minor, E minor, and D major, and the increased chromaticism, dissonance, and frequency of modulations are innovations that opened the way for J.S. Bach's much broader explorations in all 24 keys. Listeners may appreciate Vogel's educational efforts as much as his fine playing, and take from this disc an appreciation of the importance of tuning in Baroque theory and practice.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson