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Howard Ferstler
Sensible Sound, February 2002

"This seven dollar CD exhibits some absolutely superb organ playing and sound, with a demo-grade capturing of recorded acoustic space, realistic envelopment, and up-front depth. There is no super-deep bass here, but the sound is clean as hell, and notably brilliant in the best Baroque tradition."

Elaine Fine
American Record Guide, October 2001

"It is a fairly large three-manual organ in North German style with a clear and bright tone admirably suited to the works of Buxtehude. Larger registrations are brilliant and suitably aggressive but not strident, while the quieter registers offer wide variety of subtle colors heard to good advantage in the chorale preludes are particularly engaging and played with special sensitivity."

Kirk McElhearn
MusicWeb International, July 2001

"This CD is the first in a series of recordings of Buxtehude's organ music. It is part of Naxos's excellent Organ Encyclopedia, which features recordings of organ works by many well-known and lesser-known composers.

Buxtehude's organ music was so excellent that he was very well-known during his lifetime, and, listening to this recording, one can immediately hear why. His music stands at the crossroads of traditional German music and the development of new styles imported from France and Italy. His organ music covers all possible forms for the instrument, and this disc includes several preludes, chorales and two Magnificats.

Ranging from the flamboyant (the Magnificat primi toni) to the sublime (some of the chorales, such as Herr Christ, der einig Gottes Sohn), this music is well-performed by Volker Ellenberger. His choice of registration seems appropriate for most of the pieces, being very large and spacious in some works, such as the Magnificat primi toni, and more intimate and reserved in the Magnificat noni toni, for example.

However, in comparing this recording with the excellent complete set by Olivier Vernet (on Ligia Digital), I am surprised by the differences in tempo - Ellenberger chooses slower tempi in every case. Whether or not this is considered to be judicious depends, naturally, on each listener. I feel that it is justified in some of the chorales, but this is very subjective - I tend to prefer listening to chorales at slower tempi. I find it less appropriate in the large-scale Prelude in G minor, where the music tends to sound a bit bland at this tempo. Overall, these slower tempi give the music a more reserved feeling than that which is heard on Vernet's recording...

In any case, this is a good performance of a selection of Buxtehude's organ works. Presumably, this will become a complete set in the near future. While Olivier Vernet probably gives a more convincing performance, this budget disc is worth listening to for those curious about Buxtehude's organ music."

Richard Todd
Ottawa Citizen, June 2001

"The music of Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707) has been described as 'a lot like J. S. Bach's, only less so.' Indeed, Buxtehude was probably the most important single influence on Bach, who is said to have walked more than 200 kilometres, at the age of 15, to hear Buxtehude play the organ. The similarity in their organ compositions is unmistakable, though Bach's are ultimately more complex and subtler in their counterpoint. Nevertheless, anyone who loves Bach's organ music will find this recording a real pleasure. Volker Ellenberger plays the grand-sounding organ of the Evangelical Lutheran City Church in Buckberg with a sure feel for the composer's language and aesthetic. The chorale preludes are particularly engaging and played with special sensitivity."

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