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Paul Turok
Turok’s Choice, December 2009

BUXTEHUDE, D.: Harpsichord Music, Vol. 2 (Mortensen) 8.570580
BUXTEHUDE, D.: Harpsichord Music, Vol. 3 (Mortensen) 8.570581

Two discs of Buxtehude’s fine harpsichord music, well played by Lars Ulrik Mortensen, have been reissued from the DaCapo label (8.570580, 8.570581).

Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, January 2009

This, Volume 3 of the complete harpsichord music of Buxtehude, continues the superb series for Naxos by the excellent Lars Ulrik Mortensen. I suppose, since this composer’s harpsichord music is not as well known as his organ music is, that I should break down and describe each piece here as I’ve done in my previous Buxtehude reviews, but my esteemed Editor-in-Chief has begged our indulgence in shorter, more terse reviews, and so I shall capitulate and draw the curtain on my proposed lecture of Buxtehude’s genius. Perhaps I could summarize his style, bold and innovative as it was, by stating that despite his Dutch genesis and German training, his music was very heavily influenced by the Italian style, particularly the style of Monteverdi—though I’m sure that other researchers could find other influences (Stradella, perhaps?). Buxtehude’s use of rubato, ritornello, inverted variants, and, above all, of bel canto lyricism, is indicative of his music’s Italian roots. No wonder his vocal music took seed and was performed for so many decades in Italy. I’m sure that some of these harpsichord works had at least some influence on Domenico Scarlatti in addition to J. S. Bach, who admired him greatly.

Mortensen continues to impress as one of the most musical and truly historically informed performers of his generation. I wasn’t at all surprised to discover that he was a pupil of, among others, Trevor Pinnock, who is also one of the better harpsichordists today, though I personally find Mortensen’s playing even more fluid in style and sensitive to color. You simply must hear this disc to believe it.

James Manheim, November 2008

This fine disc of keyboard music by Dietrich Buxtehude originally appeared on the Dacapo label in 1999 and was reissued by Naxos in 2008…The rest of the pieces on the disc are among those in which Buxtehude came closest to Bach, partly because the basic suite of French dances, by Bach’s maturity, was becoming an old-fashioned form. They’re also works that showcase Mortensen’s bright, brilliant style at its most agreeable; partly trained in Britain, he’s less severe than many of the keyboardists who have spent their careers exclusively in northern Europe…

Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, October 2008

Bach gets all the credit, but Buxtehude (and Schütz before him) had 'been there' before. This is the third in the series of a planned traversal of all of Buxtehude's works for harpsichord. It's another winner: the music is simply great, and Mortensen's mastery and consummate stylistic insight are a joy. Dates and location are given in great detail, but not a word about the magnificent-sounding instrument he plays.

Brian Wilson
MusicWeb International, October 2008

Everything on this new recording, not just the variations, is as well performed and recorded as on the previous volume and, if anything, the music is more interesting. The Suites in A and F are little less deserving of the epithet ‘brilliant’ which the blurb on the rear insert applies to the variations.

The notes by Kerala Snyder, slightly abridged from the original Dacapo issue, are scholarly and readable, though the non-specialist may find the technical terms slightly difficult to come to grips with.

If added inducement were needed, the booklet contains a promotional code to obtain a free track from Ficher’s Musicalischer Parnassus. You’ll need to register with Naxos’s download branch,, to take advantage of the offer and you may well decide to make a purchase from the many goodies on offer there, not just Naxos’s own recordings.

This new CD joins a long list of highly recommendable recordings of Buxtehude. Naxos have put Buxtehude lovers very greatly in their debt in the last two years with their reissues of Dacapo recordings and their own series of complete organ works and I have been pleased to welcome several of these here on MusicWeb….

Meanwhile I recommend that you make this new Naxos reissue a priority; if you haven’t yet obtained the first two volumes, go for this one first—but you’ll almost certainly want the other two afterwards unless you’re incurably averse to the harpsichord. And even those who normally find the sound too unvaried may warm to Mortensen’s particularly versatile harpsichord, made by Thomas Mandrup-Poulsen, and the way he handles it. I made volume 2 Bargain of the Month—let that accolade stand for all three CDs [Vol 1 8.570579,Vol 2 8.570580, Vol 3 8.570581]. These were highly recommendable recordings at full price and they are even more so now.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2008

Lars Ulrik Mortensen’s self-effacing musicianship is placed at the service of Dietrich Buxtehude’s harpsichord music, a composer who is becoming better recognised outside of the organ repertoire.

He may well have been born in Denmark, his early life sketchily chronicled until we encounter his presence as organist in Lubeck, an appointment that would have given him considerable sway in the development of music in Germany. He seldom states the instrument to be used so that speculation exists as to Buxtehude’s original intentions, Mortensen’s series offering his own idea as to the extent of his harpsichord output. Certainly the Suites—the A major (BuxWV 243) and F major (BuxWV 238) which are included on this disc—have the intimate feel that would indicate domestic use, while the extended set of Thirty-two Variations, subtitled ‘La Capricciosa’, are a series of dances ill-fitted for church use. The Prelude in G major (BuxWV 162) would be more open to doubt, for here the music seems well suited, both in texture and mood, to the organ. The performances were previously available on the Marco Polo label, and led to Mortensen being named Danish Musician of the Year in 2000. His playing is a model of clarity and elegance, tempos keeping the music flowing, phrases shaped with good period taste. The recording is of superb quality.

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