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Monday, January 7, 2019

Dietrich Buxtehude, Early Organ Works, Codex E.B. 1688, Harald Vogel

Some bodies of work may not be at the edge of consciousness for the music appreciation cognoscenti these days. In fact how much could we say that was the case right now in the present moment? Perhaps the Mahler symphonic cycle more now than was the case when I was growing up? And Wozzeck I've noticed on social media seems to bring out a seemingly dedicated group of initiates compared with Die Fraue ohne Shatten but that has been the case I supposes since I knew that both operas existed, at least over here.

All well and good. I might not have even thought to think it several weeks ago, but since I received the new Harald Vogel recording of Buxtehude's Codex E. B. 1688, which comprises all but four of the works on the album Early Organ Works (MDG Gold 314 2092-2), ever since then I have increasingly thought of that Codex as a body of work that does deserve a protracted appreciation and meditation upon. And so I offer a few thoughts to this end today.

In it you hear the very contrapuntal-fugal sublimities Bach himself no doubt was so specifically captivated by in his lifetime. And so too one of the contrapuntal subjects we find Handel had adapted himself for the "And With His Stripes" section of his Messiah.

So too the Codex contains more than solo organ. There is the "Sonata ex d - Viola da Gamba/organ" that so absorbingly holds our attention for the second five minutes of the album. Beholding the whole of this program you feel the brilliance of Buxtehude's extraordinary counterweaving. The organ is a greately appropriate one, the sound pristine. And Harald Vogel sounds like he was literally born into playing this music. Clear and authoritative versions are these, milestones, a joy to hear! Highly recommended.

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