The sonatas which make up Buxtehude’s Opus 1 were published
in an undated edition which probably belongs to 1694. Like most
significant music they are both thoroughly traditional and remarkable
for their innovations. Buxtehude was undoubtedly familiar with
such chamber works as those of the Hamburg composer Johann Adam
Reincken (1623-1722) - though long-lived, Reincken didn’t
quite manage the 149 years accidentally attributed to him in
Gianluca Capuano’s excellent booklet notes! - and the violinist-composer
Nicolaus Adam Strungk (1640-1700), who spent two years in Rome
in the 1680s, and was praised by Corelli. But Buxtehude’s
work has a flair and inventiveness not accounted for by such
models as he could find in Reincken’s Hortus Musicus
1687 or in Strungk’s writing and playing.
Buxtehude’s writing has a new sense of playfulness, of
seeming spontaneity and of emotional expressiveness. Such qualities
are certainly well to the fore in this recording of Buxtehude’s
first set of seven sonatas (a second set of Seven was published
in 1696 as his opus 2) by L’Estravagante.
These recordings (along with L’Estrvagante’s performances
of the Opus 2 set) were first released as cover CDs with an issue
of the excellent Italian music magazine Amadeus, during 2007.
The reissue of both recordings on the Arts label happily makes
them available to a wider public.
These are, indeed, performances which any admirer of Buxtehude
ought to hear. Harpsichordist Maurizio Salerno prompts and supports
superbly, and the interplay between violinist Stefano Montari
(L’Estravagante make no use of a second violinist as employed
by some ensembles in this music) and gambist Rodney Prada seems
almost intuitive in its exactness and fluidity. Whether in the “furioso” allegro
of Sonata No.III or the melancholy andante of Sonata No.I, in
the extraordinary rhythmic inventions of Sonata No.IV or Sonata
No.VI’s quasi-improvisatory (and actually improvised) flights,
L’Etravagante seem in utter sympathy with the requirements
and (just as important) the possibilities of the music.
L’Estravagante play this music with a well-developed sense
of drama, with am evident fondness for strong contrasts not least
in their choice of tempi). As a result they perhaps lack the
relative stateliness of some other recorded performances, but
they surpass any other performances I have heard in energy, exhilarating
expressiveness and a winning sense of spontaneity.
This is music written by a Dane who was working in North Germany,
and played with the vivacity and theatricality which has characterised
so many Italian performances of baroque repertoire in recent
years. It makes for a heady mixture - a mixture whose effects
are highly potent!
see also review by Johan
van Veen (also op. 2)