Viola da gamba – Dietrich Buxtehude, Lament

June 5, 2009

Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1701), Lament for soprano, two gambas and basso continuo.

At first hearing on radio, somewhat long-winded – I’ve always found Buxtehude’s writing quite dense, not that I can speak with much experience -, with the singer seeming to work extremely hard, but the pulsing bowing action of the gambas is quite phenomenal and quite exciting. I’m very curious to see how the composer has written out these gamba parts. Coincidentally with the Vivaldi Concerto funebre, yet another example of word painting with gambas and link to the funereal. What I was listening to was from a recording, Dietrich Buxtehude Cantatas and sonatas with the viol, with soprano Benedicte Tauran and Christophe Coin playing one of the two gambas – a funeral Klaglied, Muss der Tod auch entbinden, was kein Fall entbinden kann? I daresay composed in the busy period 1680 to 1687. Worth pursuing with the score, if only to see how his musical inspiration ebbs and flows with the text. Buxtehude was obviously playing with musical form, difficult for modern musicians to come to grips easily with because we’re so used to better known and more solid forms both before and after Buxtehude. Not having had to work as a Kantor I guess afforded him the luxury of composing what and when he wanted, leading to the ‘freedom’ of the music itself.

The recording also features two trio sonatas (Op.1 no.3 and 4 from 1693/4) which are readily accessible via the Icking Music Archive, so this becomes a ready source for further study of Buxtehude’s instrumental music for viol as well.

Ensemble Baroque de Limoges, Christophe Coin. Astree E 8851 (France, 2000, 66:16) 03D022.

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