Buxtehude was nearly sixty when he published his Sonatas, Op. 1 and Op. 2. Each contains seven works and together they ambitiously explore all the major and minor keys, beginning with F major and omitting only F minor and B flat minor. What is immediately striking about both Op. 1 and Op. 2 is not just the variety of invention, but the way Buxtehude heightens the contrasting vitality of his allegros by introducing them with Lentos or Adagios of considerable expressive intensity. With John Holloway a very stylish leader, the performances on Naxos are expert, fresh and alive, using period instruments brightly without edginess or unattractive liner squeezing. The groups is very well balanced and the recording immediate and real.
Comprehensive annotations complement well crafted performances by three leading early music exponents, revealing a little-known side to Buxtehude's prolific output. Its own musical charms aside, recordings like this help to enrich our understanding of the context from which JS Bach emerged. The budget price makes this disc doubly appealing.
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