Dietrich Buxtehude Harpsichord Music: Suites Varia[CD]
~ Nicholas Good
This CD explores a variety of keyboard music composed by the 17th century Danish/German composer Buxtehude, a leading exponent of the 'Stylus Fantasticus (fantastical style). The four suites of dances performed here have their origins in the French lute suites that were pervasive at the French court of Louis IV. The French court harpsichordists adapted the lute suites to their own instrument --- the broken arpeggiated style ('brisee') of the lutes dances is ideal for the harpsichord. Soon composers all over Europe were imitating this style of music. The CD contains two variations sets written on popular tunes. The most well know is on the tune "More Palatino". Other keyboard composers, including Sweelinck had written variations on the same tune, but Buxtehude explores the music in new ways. These variations are truly one of his masterpieces. "Aria: Rofilis" is smaller in scale, consisting of only 3 variations, but every measure is packed with musical nuance. Finally 4 of the selections on the CD, (Toccata in G, Canzonettas in d and G, and Praeludium in G) were written for manuals only organ, but are extremely well suited to the harpsichord as well. And it is in these pieces that the 'Stylus Fantasticus aspect of Buxtehude's music is best illustrated. For this recording, harpsichordist Nicholas Good, recording engineer Peter Nothnagle, and harpsichord builder Kevin Fryer utilized a deconsecrated Catholic church isolated in the middle of Iowa cornfields far from urban noise and the sounds of railroad, airplanes, and interstates. St. Bridget's Church, Morse, Iowa had perfect acoustics for this project. The engineer was able to capture the rich baritone sonorities of the Fryer harpsichord, in a warm natural environment, without having to resort to any kinds of sonic manipulations. Nothnagle, an engineer for many sessions of early music recordings, is able to capture the essence of the complex sounds of a harpsichord in a way that few other engineers are. The recording utilizes a harpsichord built in 2002 by Kevin Fryer, a noted San Francisco builder. This instrument is based on the Ioannes Ruckers instrument now housed at Musee D'Unterlinden in Colmar France. Built in 1624, it was rebuilt twice, firstly around 1680 and a second time in France in 1720. The work done by the anonymous rebuilders was conservative in scale. By leaving the case, soundboard, and bridges undisturbed, they preserved much of the original sound design of Ruckers. By repinning the bridges, adding a second 8´ choir of strings, and making new keyboards, they gave the instrument just enough musical resources to serve much of the repertoire of the 18th century. Nicholas Good is a musician based in Topeka, KS. In addition to concerts on the harpsichord and clavichord, he serves as organist at one of the largest Methodist congregations in Kansas, 1st United Methodist Church of Topeka. Nick received his undergraduate degrees in music from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he studied harpsichord with George Hunter, organ with Paul Pettinga and piano with Malcom Bilson, Thomas Baker and Dean Sanders. In recent years he has continued his harpsichord studies with Ed Parmentier at the University of Michigan.
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