After he finished recording everything he could possibly record by J.S. Bach in 2004, Dutch keyboard player and conductor Ton Koopman turned to recording everything he could possibly record by Dietrich Buxtehude in 2005. It made perfect sense. Buxtehude was a direct inspiration for the young Bach -- the story of the younger composer trekking from his central Germany home to hear the older composer at work in Denmark is well-known -- and his music is an ideal adjunct to Bach's. Or, rather, an ideal prologue, since many of the things that are loved and honored in Bach's music can likewise be found in Buxtehude's music: magnificent counterpoint, wonderful melodies, striking harmonies, and above all a deep and unshakable devotion to sacred music.
All these features are manifest in this first volume of Koopman's survey of Buxtehude's vocal works -- even though the music may not in fact be by Buxtehude. The oratorio "Wacht! Euch zum Streit gefasset macht" exists only in separate parts -- with a few parts missing -- and some scholars have suggested its attribution to Buxtehude is doubtful. Koopman, who prepared this performing edition, feels confident the work is by Buxtehude, and he and his Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir bring to it all the energy and enthusiasm he and they brought to the sacred works of Bach. Scored for four soloists and chorus with string orchestra plus a trio of trombones, "Wacht! Euch zum Streit gefasset macht" is a charming work with lots of delightful arias and more than its fair share of beguiling instrumental movements that Koopman and his forces perform with a bright tone, a brilliant technique, and an easy way with historically informed performance practice. Anyone who followed Koopman and the orchestra nad chorus through Bach should have no fear of following them through Buxtehude, whether it's by Buxtehude or not. Antoine Marchand's sound is crisp, clear, and deep.