Easter time & music
I’m not religious, but I understand that Easter is the most important Christian holiday, and the history of his suffering and resurrection have dominated about 2000 years of European history.
Typically, around this time of the year, I’d be listening to the two masterpieces that Johann Sebastian Bach has composed, telling the story of the passion of Christ as recorded by the apostels John and Matthew (click on the links before and this one to see some of my reviews around them).
But obviously the great Bach is not the only one inspired by this important point of Western religion and culture. From Gesualdo, Pergolesi, via Telemann, Rossini, all the way to Pärt, all have written often amazingly beautiful music about it.
Regular readers of my blog know that I typically mainly write about music between 1700 and 1900, more or less from Bach to Mahler. In the 20th century, I often struggle, and before Bach, I’m often equally lost.
Therefore, if you look around at the 4.5 years of blogging history on this site, you’ll find only a small handful of mentions of Claudio Monteverdi, and that’s it.
So therefore, take the following review with a grain of salt, I’m clearly not an expert on Early Music.
Dieterich Buxtehude isn’t particularly well known any more today. He’s of Danish/German origins, and lived his entire life in the area of Southern Denmark and the very Northern end of Germany, and passed away in 1707.
However, in his time, he was a living legend. In his young years, Bach himself walked the 250 miles separating his home in Thüringen to Lübeck in Northern Germany just to hear Buxtehude play (and presumably study with him), and Händel even considered taking over his job after he died.
Buxtehude: Membra Jesu Nostri – Philippe Pierlot – Ricercar Consort (Mirare 2019)
Membra Jesu Nostri, or if you prefer the full title Membra Jesu nostri patientis sanctissima (“The most holy limbs of our suffering Jesus”) is actually a selection of seven cantatas written in 1680 (so 5 years before Bach was even born).
I’m not going to bore you with more detail on the structure and story of the work, Wikipedia has some really good information here.
What I do want to share is the beauty of all of this. You have a small baroque ensemble, just a handful of voices. But this album is captivating every single one of the 1h20 of the album (you get another cantata as “filler” at the end as well).
I’ve already praised Pierlot and his Ricercar Consort in their recording of the St. John Passion, and here again, their singing and playing is exceptional.
Again, I’m not an early music expert, but I briefly compared this to some of the well known recordings of this work (Gardiner, Koopman, van Veldhofen), and can guarantee that you won’t regret the purchase of this album.
My rating: 4 stars (5 star playing, 4 star repertoire)
You can find it here (Qobuz).