Saturday, January 15, 2011

Buxtehude - Membra Jesu Nostri - Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque







Membra Jesu certainly deserves its relatively celebrated status. In 1680, Buxtehude fashioned in a cycle of seven quasi-cantatas (really tableaux) a supersensitive contemplation in seven parts of Christ's crucified body. The feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart and face become the subject for imaginative poetic treatment (sung by solo voices) whose stall is set through a single biblical reference, set as a polyphonic vocal concerto.The only surviving portrait of Buxtehude, from A musical party by Johannes Voorhout (1674). Each cantata in 'Membra' is divided into six sections: an instrumental introduction, a 'concerto' for instruments and five voices(SAATB) with the exception of the fifth and sixth cantatas where only three voices are used; three 'arias' for one or three voices, each followed by an instrumental 'ritornello', and an exact reprise of the concerto. The first and last cantatas of the cycle deviate from the pattern. In the first cantata 'Ad Pedes' the choir repeats the first aria after the reprise; in the last cantata 'Ad Faciem' five parts sing the last aria and then a final 'Amen' the chorus substituting for the reprise; this concludes the cycle. The formula is a winning one and contains some deeply touching passages, none more so than the lightly bowed genuflecting gestures in the Sonata "Ad genua" or the agonizing dissonances of the implied nails penetrating "Ad manus". For a sustained and concentrated meditation in brilliantly crafted mid-baroque musical language, "Ad car" is arguably the piece de resistance; employing five viols, Buxtehude leads us into the symbolic maze of the heart's yearning, a tantalizing mixture of profound spirituality and sexual allusion. 


ape, covers


  1. Dear Otto: I have not seen you around here. I hope it was for good and happy reasons. Thank you very much for everything and a big hug. Carlos

  2. Hi Carlos, yes I started work on the blog again. I was away on my honeymoon and then all the frustrations with FF...



Related Posts with Thumbnails