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  Channel Classics -
  CCS SA 24006
  Buxtehude: Membra Jesu Nostri - Netherlands Bach Society
  Buxtehude: Membra Jesu Nostri

Anne Grimm (soprano)
Johannette Zomer (soprano)
Peter de Groot (alto)
Andrew Tortise (tenor)
Bas Ramselaar (bass)
Netherlands Bach Society
Jos van Veldhoven (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Vocal
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 5

Reviews: 3

Review by Peter June 6, 2007 (6 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
A translation of the above:

Dating back to 1680, the cycle of seven Cantatas “Membra Jesu Nostri” by the composer Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707) is a work of an undeniable originality, based on non-liturgical texts, forming part of a corpus of the Middle Ages in which is celebrated the passion of Christ. Of hymnic character, "it is an exalted text, mystical, which is presented as seven meditations about the various parts of the body of Christ on the Cross - successively the feet, the knees, the hands, the side, the chest, the heart and the face” explains Pieter Dirksen in the booklet accompanying this recording. But this work goes well beyond the simple anecdotic image which such a “clinical” list can conjure up. Through this new interpretation, open to a new vision of this religious idea, Buxtehude composes a work of rare depth, and delivers splendid vocal harmonies affecting both heart and soul. With The Netherlands Bach Society, Jos van Veldhoven achieves the right tone and reference performance that this admirable score offers us. Through highlighting the expressiveness, his vision imbues the voices of his singers with a quite divine smoothness. The sonority of the singing becomes a theatre for deep and bare meditation, a frame of mind for consolation of humanity.

A superb recording in pure DSD which should be an urgent purchase.

Jean-Jacques Millo

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Review by JJ June 5, 2007 (5 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Datant de 1680, le cycle de sept Cantates "Membra Jesu Nostri" du compositeur Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707) est une œuvre d’une originalité indéniable, basée sur des textes non liturgiques, faisant partie d'un corpus du moyen âge dans lequel est célébrée la passion du Christ. De caractère hymnique, " c'est un texte exalté, mystique, qui se présente sous la forme de sept méditations sur les diverses parties du corps du Christ en croix - successivement les pieds, les genoux, les mains, le côté, la poitrine, le cœur et le visage" nous explique Pieter Dirksen dans le livret accompagnant cet enregistrement. Mais l'oeuvre va bien au-delà de la simple image anecdotique que peut proposer une telle énumération "clinique". Au travers de ce schéma inédit, ouvert sur une vision nouvelle de la pensée religieuse, Buxtehude édifie une œuvre d'une rare profondeur, livrant ainsi de splendides harmonies vocales bouleversant l'âme et le cœur à la fois. Avec The Netherlands Bach Society, Jos van Veldhoven trouve le ton juste et nous offre la référence de cette partition admirable. Dans une optique exaltant l’expressivité, sa vision éclaire les voix de ses chanteurs d'une finesse toute divine. L’ampleur du chant est alors le théâtre d’un recueillement profond et dépouillé, un état d’âme d’un humanisme consolateur. Un superbe enregistrement en pur DSD qu'il est urgent de se procurer.

Jean-Jacques Millo

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Review by georgeflanagin December 10, 2006 (5 of 7 found this review helpful)
ADHD Summary: A wonderful and interesting release from Channel Classics. Get it for these reasons: It is good to hear some non-organ Buxtehude; great recording. There are some oddities in the performance about which I hope some other reader can educate me. See below.

I Admit it:

In 1977, I attended a performance of John Cage's /Piano Burning/. In the past decade, I have been inspired to consider one-upping Cage by staging a fortepiano burning, and if we get enough heat, I intend to pile on a few harpsichords tied into a bundle with all the gut strings I can find.

The "original instruments" movement in recordings started just about the time I got the kind of cash it took to get serious about collecting music. I find it unnecessary and distracting. I do support historically informed performances, but I hear no heresy Angela Hewitt's performances of Bach on Fazioli.

On the other hand, I prefer my lute music played on lutes. Now that you know one of my biases, let's get the show on the road.


[1] The Music

The primary piece of music is a 1680 cantata built around the medieval cycle of hymns that amounts to "The Seven Stations of the Body," if you can bear a bit of punning around regarding religious texts. There are seven pieces in the collection, and each has a standard organization that consists of [a] an instrumental overture, [b] a little solo and ensemble work by the soloists with sparse instrumental support, and [c] a wrap up.

Two other short pieces round us out to 72:25 for the total timing.

The forces are SSATB, with organ, 2 violins, 5 viola da gamba, vc, vv, and theorbo with harpsichord continuo.

[2] The Performance

I dropped the word "competition" from the title for this section of my review. I have no other performances of this work in my collection, and quite frankly my Buxtehude consists of only 5 CDs in the entire wall, plus a few filler pieces by him on albums by other Baroque composers.

The Netherlands Bach Society is a familiar group to me: I have a couple of other works by them. They tend to put on a performance that serves the pieces of music that I know, and tries to be faithful to the style without getting mired in the bog mentioned in my preamble. The musicians produce a sound that blends into a seamless whole. There are no obvious blunders to my ears.

Cuts 3, 4, and 6 (hands, side, heart) are worth the price of the disc even if there were nothing else on it. The entire disc compels you to just sit down and listen. I had intended to listen to each cut separately, press pause, take a few notes for this review, and then move on. That is my usual method in the second listen. By the time cut 3 arrived, I just put down the pad and let it go.

The concept of what is harmony versus dissonance has changed tremendously in the last thousand years. On this disc, we hear some evidence that some major changes took place between 1680 for Buxtehude and just a few years down the road with Bach. In the sense that we have become more adjusted to 4ths (in particular) and modes, the harmony of Buxtehude sounds more "modern."

I like it.

My question:

To paraphrase President Bush, singing is hard work. I realize this, and the readers of this site realize it too, I'm sure. Both sopranos sound to me as if they sometimes miss their intro pitches a bit like an organ pipe does when it gets the sudden rush of air before normal air flow is established. On the other hand, I am certain there are a number of Baroque vocal ornamentations of which I know nothing. Is this some type of "grace note?" The alto, tenor and bass do not exhibit this sound in their singing.

[3] The Sound

The sound is up to the standards we have come to expect from Channel Classics. If they were to produce a merely "very good" sounding recording, I would probably complain and recommend it be used as a coaster.

Stereo image is clear. The venue is the Waalse Kerk in Amsterdam, and the recording does not have a high degree of hall ambience. It sounds rather "close to you," which is a good characteristic for the type of small ensemble music that is represented here.

One complaint that I do have is about the new cardboard case that Channel Classics is using. I am all for ditching the jewel case, but the pocket in which the 36 page liner note booklet is inserted is foolishly small. I have several of these packages now, and without fail the first time I remove the booklet, my fingers strain the cardboard pocket, and it rips.

Bottom Line

Get it. Expand your Baroque horizons. Enjoy some "new old" music, and immerse yourself in another excellent performance and recording.

George Flanagin

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Works: 2  

Dietrich Buxtehude - Cantata "Fried- und freudenreiche Hinfahrt", BuxWV 76
Dietrich Buxtehude - Cantata "Membra Jesu Nostri" (7 cantatas), BuxWV 75