About this Recording
8.553787 - BUXTEHUDE: Membra Jesu Nostri
English 

Dietrich Buxtehude (c

Dietrich Buxtehude (c.1637 -1707)

Membra Jesu nostri

 

Johann Rosenmuller (c.1619 -1684)

Sinfonia XI

 

The imperial free city of Lubeck, a member of the Hanseatic League, had held a position second only to Hamburg, The development of the latter during the seventeenth century was very considerable, Lubeck, on the other hand, fared less well, but remained, nevertheless, an important commercial centre. Much of the musical life of the city revolved around the Marienkirche, the church of the city council, where Franz Tunder had been appointed organist in 1641. Tunder, a composer abie to further the synthesis of the Lutheran with the Italian influences exemplified in the music of Heinrich Schutz, established weekly Thursday organ recitals that grew into more elaborate concerts, with other instrumental players, from among the seven official town musicians, and with singers.

 

Dietrich Buxtehude, born, it is thought, in Oldesloe about the year 1637 and claiming, it seems, Danish identity, was the son of an organist and schoolmaster. His father moved briefly from Oldesloe, in the Duchy of Holstein, to Helsingborg as organist of the Marienkirche there, following this with removal to a similar position at the Olaikirche in the Danish city of Helsingborg, an appointment he heid for some thirty years, from 1641 or 1642 until his retirement in 1671. Buxtehude himself had his musical education from his father and served as organist at the Marienkirche in Helsingborg from 1657 or 1658 until 1660, when he returned to Helsingborg as organist at the Marienkirche there. In 1668 he was elected organist at the Marienkirche in Lubeck, succeeding Franz Tunder, who had died in the previous year, and marrying Tunder's younger daughter, seemingly a condition or tradition of the appointment. Tunder's elder daughter had married Samuel Franck, Cantor of the Marienkirche and the Catharineum.

 

At the Marienkirche in Lubeck Buxtehude made some changes in the musical traditions of the church with the establishment of a series of Abendmusik concerts, given now on five Sunday afternoons in the year, events that attracted wide interest. As an organist Buxtehude represented the height of North German keyboard traditions, exercising decisive influence over the following generation, notably on Johann Sebastian Bach, who undertook the long journey from Arnstadt to Lubeck to hear him play. Handel too visited Buxtehude, with his friend and colleague Mattheson, in 1703. By this time there was question of appointing a successor to Buxtehude, who was now nearing the age of seventy and had spent over thirty years at the Marienkirche. The condition of marriage to his predecessor's daughter that he had faithfully fulfilled proved unattractive, however, to the young musicians of the newer generation, and the succession eventually passed to Johann Christian Schieferdecker, who married his predecessor's surviving daughter, predeceased by four others, three months after Buxtehude's death on 16th May 1707.

 

Buxtehude left some 114 sacred vocal works and, among secular vocal music, eight wedding cantatas, the latter intended, it would seem, for the celebration of weddings of the leading citizens, since the nature of such performances was strictly regulated by social class. His surviving instrumental music includes almost ninety compositions, preludes, toccatas, canzonettas, fugues and chorale preludes, with a number of other keyboard works, trio and solo sonatas. His cycle of seven sacred cantatas Membra Jesu nostri was written in 1680 and dedicated to Gustaf Duben, conductor of the Swedish court orchestra and organist of the German church in Stockholm. Duben, whose son was elevated to the Swedish nobility and became Master of the Royal Household, assembled an important collection of music by his contemporaries, including 105 works by Buxtehude. The autograph of Membra Jesu nostril survives in the Duben collection, presented by his son Baron Anders von Duben to the University of Uppsala.

 

Membra Jesu nostri, a title that defies elegant translation, is a cycle of seven cantatas, each a meditation on Christ on the Cross, his feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart and face. The Latin text is drawn from the Rhythmica oratio attributed to the twell1h-century Cistercian St Bernard of Clairvaux or to the thirteenth-century Arnulf of Louvain, who belonged to the same religious order. From this he derived a three-verse aria for each of the seven parts of the work,

in which the sequence of keys, C minor, E flat major, G minor, D minor, A minor, E minor, C minor, provides an element of unity.

 

The first of the cycle, Ad pedes (To his feet) opens with a Sonata, a brief introductory instrumental movement for two violins, viol one and organ continuo. A five-part choir sings an imitative setting of words from the prophet Nahum, with basso continuo accompaniment and the briefest of other instrumental interventions, adding a five-part setting of the first verse of the Rhythmica oratio. There follows a soprano aria, with basso continuo, Salve mundi salutare

(Hail, Saviour of the world), with a final instrumental ritornello. The second soprano aria, Clavos pedum (Nails in his feet) follows the same pattern, succeeded by the bass Dulcis Jesu (Sweet Jesu), with a different melody on the same harmonic basis. The choir and instruments end the first part in a return to the biblical text.

 

Ad genua (To his knees) starts with an instrumental Sonata in tremulo, the tremulous character provided by the undulating bowed groups of notes in the strings. The choir enters with the imitative entries of Ad ubera portabimini (Then shall ye suck). A tenor aria follows, Salve Jesu, rex sanctorum (Hail, Jesu, king of saints), with an instrumental ritornello, succeeded by the alto second verse, on the same harmonic pattern, Quid sum tibi responsurus (What answer shall I give thee), leading to the third verse, Ut le quaeram (That I may seek thee), for two sopranos and bass, with basso continuo. The first chorus, Ad ubera, is repeated in conclusion.

 

The third part of the cycle, Ad manus (To his hands) opens with an instrumental sonata, followed by the choir's contrapuntal Quid sunt plagae istae (What are these wounds). The first soprano aria, Salve Jesu, pastor bone (Hail, Jesu, good shepherd), with its concluding ritornello, leads to a second soprano verse, with the same musical material, Manus sanctae (Sacred hands), with a third verse, In cruore tuo (In thy blood) for alto, tenor and bass. After the ritornello the chorus Quid sunt plagae istae is repeated.

 

Ad latus (To his side) starts, as before, with a short Sonata, an instrumental introduction, followed by the five-part setting of Surge, amica mea (Arise, my love), its alto opening leading to a homophonic vocal texture, before the imitation of in caverna maceriae (in the secret places of the stairs). The first aria, for soprano and basso continuo, Salve latus Salvatoris (Hail, side of the Saviour) leads to a second verse vocal trio, for alto, tenor and bass, Ecce tibi appropinquo (Lo I approach thee) and a third verse soprano aria, Hora mortis meus flatus (In the hour of death my soul), as before on the same harmonic pattern, with the two solo arias again using the same melodic material, The final ritornello leads to a repetition of the choral Surge, amica mea.

 

The fifth part, Ad pectus (To his breast), opens with a short Sonata, followed now by a three-part contrapuntal setting of Sicut modo geniti infantes (As newborn babes), for alto, tenor and bass. The first aria is for alto, Salve, salus mea (Hail, my salvation), followed by the tenor Pectus mihi confer mundum (Grant me a pure heart) and the bass Ave, verum templum Dei (Hail, true temple of God), each differing in melodic contour over the same harmonic pattern. The final ritornello leads back to the five-part Sicut modo geniti infantes.

 

Ad cor (To his heart) has an introductory three bars, marked Adagio, followed by Allegro imitative entries from the five viole da gamba for which the movement is scored. The movement continues with an alternation of slow and fast sections, to be followed by the three-part Vulnerasti cor meum (Thou hast ravished my heart), for two sopranos and bass, A closing ritornello is followed by the soprano Summi regis cor (Heart of the highest king) and the second soprano verse Per medullam cordis mei (Through the marrow of my heart) and the dramatically worked bass Viva cordis voce clamo (I cry with the living voice of the heart) and the final three-part Vulnerasti, differing in its last bars, when the singers softly repeat the words cor meum (my heart).

 

The final part of the cycle, Ad faciem (To his face), returns to the original instrumentation of two violins, violone and organ continuo, and to the original key of C minor. It has an opening Sonata and a five-part setting of Illustra faciem tuam (Make thy face to shine). The aria setting of Salve, caput cruentatum (Hail, blood-stained head), the original of which the Gerhard chorale Haupt voll Bfut (O sacred head sore wounded) is a translation, is for three voices, alto, tenor and bass and Is followed by the alto second verse, Dum me mori est necesse (Since I must die) and a choral setting of the third verse, Cum me jubes emigrare (Since you bid me go), all three on the same harmonic pattern. This is capped by an elaborate and prolonged Amen. The autograph, which bore the superscription In nomine Jesu (In the name of Jesus) at the beginning, ends with the added words Soli Deo gloria (Glory to God alone).

 

Johann Rosenmuller, whose Sinfonia XI is included in the present release, was born about the year 1619 at Olsnltz, near Zwlckau. and studied at Leipzig University, before taking employment at the Thomasschule, where Bach was later to serve as Cantor. Promotion brought promises of the position of Cantor, when it should become vacant, but a homosexual scandal in which he and some of his pupils at the Thomasschule were involved, led to Imprisonment and escape which brought him finally to Venice, where he remained for a number of years, at first as a trombonist at St Mark's and later as a composer at the Ospedale della Pieta, where Vivaldi was later to work. He returned to Germany as Kapellmeister at Woifenbuttel, taking up his appointment at the earliest in 1682, two years before his death. His Sonate da camera cioe Sinfonie Alemande of 1667, written in Venice, were dedicated to Duke Johann Friedrich of Brunswick-Luneburg, with a second volume of Sonate in 1682 dedicated to the Duke's cousin, Duke Anton Ulrich, with whom he may have returned to Wolfenbuttel, after the latter's visit to Venice in that year.

 

Of the three leading German composers of the period, Buxtehude, Pachelbel and

Rosenmuller, it was the last who enjoyed the greatest contemporary popularity. Influenced by his residence in Venice, he developed an extended opening sinfonia for the earlier publication, and with the 1682 sonatas offered sinfonia that are a step further away from the earlier dance-suite. These suggest a synthesis of German and Italian that bore later fruit in the work of Johann Sebastian Bach. Rosenmuller also wrote a large quantity of church music, which had wide currency in Germany. The Sinfonia XI, from the earlier collection, which carries the date

1670 on the dedicatory title-page, is originally scored for first and second violin, first and second violette, bass viola da gamba and continuo. The introductory Grave leads to a triple rhythm Adagio, an Allegro, a return of the triple metre Adagio. The original publication then follows with a series of dances.

 

 

 


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