Buxtehude: Membra Jesu Nostri – Passions & Trauermusiken

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On this beautiful Rondeau CD, we hear Dietrich Buxtehude's exquisite cantata cycle Membra Jesu Nosti. Under the direction of Jörg Breiding, the performances are by the Himlische Cantorey, Barockensemble L'Arco and Knabenchor Hannover. Although this work by Buxtehude (1637-1707) is not poorly represented in the catalog, this recording with the preeminent Hanover Boys Choir appears to be the only available version performed by a chorus of boys' voices.

Buxtehude's cycle consists of seven cantatas, each a meditation on the wounds to a different part of the crucified body of Christ. These performances were originally issued in 2007, the year of the 300th anniversary of the death of Buxtehude. Barockensemble L'Arco is a period instrument ensemble consisting of 2 violins, cello, violone, organ and chitarrone for this recording. They provide a sensitively balanced support of warm colors and delicate textures. There are moments of exquisite beauty. Listen to the sample provided, the first five minutes of Ad Manus where, at just under a minute in, the gossamer lines of two sopranos cross in an exquisitely suspended dissonance that pleads for resolution. It's ravishing!

Also included on Rondeau's recording are two other brief cantatas, the two-part Fried- und freudenreiche Hinfahrt and Befiehl dem Engel, daß er komm. Anyone with a penchant for baroque sacred works who may have overlooked Buxtehude's masterpieces should consider getting a hold of this splendid recording.