Masaaki Suzuki

Masaaki Suzuki plays Buxtehude

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Unlike those of his teacher Ton Koopman, these organ recordings by Japanese Bach specialist Masaaki Suzuki can easily be connected to his conducting style, and admirers of the transparent, precise readings of his ongoing Bach cantata cycle will find this magnificently recorded disc of Buxtehude's organ music a valuable complement. The unusual pair of organs featured, both of them from the North German organ heartland, combine with a superb program, avoiding the few familiar Buxtehude organ hits, to produce an entirely distinctive Buxtehude release, aided by top-notch engineering.The program contains several of the grand preludes and toccatas, with built-in fugues, of the sort for which Buxtehude is best known. There are also chorale-based compositions, and some of these help the listener get attuned to Buxtehude's compositional language, just slightly older than Bach's but quite a bit more remote from the present day. Suzuki leads the listener through two short settings of the same chorale, Von Gott will ich nicht lassen (tracks 5 and 6), one straightforward, the other extremely dense, with the tune almost completely obscured. The highlight of the program is the unclassifiable Te deum laudamus, Bux VW 218 (track 4), a sizable work combining elements of the age-old cantus firmus setting, fugue, and quasi-improvisatory prelude. It may, as annotator Dorothea Schröder points out in her fine notes (in German, English, and French), be true that modern listeners, lacking familiarity with the basic fund of liturgical melodies known to churchgoers of Buxtehude's eimt, find it hard to appreciate his organ music in full. But anyone will experience this piece as something out of the ordinary; deeply serious, yet constantly shifting in texture and method. In Suzuki's reading it emerges as a little-known masterpiece. The two organs used have different tunings, something that would cause a bit of a surprise when the meantone-tuned Wilde-Schnitger organ of St. Jacobi Church, Lüdingworth, enters at track 9, except that the unearthly sounds that issue from the organ at this point will drive the tuning out of your mind. A fabulous, entrancing Buxtehude collection.

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