Diderik Buxtehude - Te Deum laudamus BuxWV 218 - Choral BuxWV 210 North Germany Historical Organs Edition

Diderik Buxtehude 
Te Deum laudamus BuxWV 218
Chorale "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein" BuxWV 210* 
Jean-Charles Ablitzer
Huß-Schnitger Historical Organ (1668-1688)
Sankt Cosmae und Damiani, Stade, Niedersachsen, North Germany
Bielfeldt Historical Organ* (1730-1736)
Sankt Wilhadi Church, Stade, Niedersachsen, North Germany

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Te Deum laudamus BuxWV 218

This is the most intricate and impressive of all the religious texts set to music by Buxtehude. However, only the prelude and four verses of the Te Deum have come down to us. No one knows whether or not Buxtehude ever set the others. None of Buxtehude's own manuscripts have survived, in fact; we know his works through copies and transcriptions made by his pupils and fellow-musicians, often incomplete or containing errors. In the case of this Te Deum, for example, the order of the verses in the original liturgical text is not respected in the surviving score, but should be reestablished in performance. Following the introductory prelude (in three-part form : prelude-fugue-prelude), comes, first, the "Te Deum laudamus", then the "Pleni sunt coeli et terra", the most intricate and varied of the four verses; next, the "Martyrum candidatus", featuring the tenor voice (played on the pedal board) in trio form; and, finally, the work's brilliant conclusion, the "Tu devicto aculeo".

"Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein" BuxWV 210

On this song dear to Lutherans ("Now, faithful beloved, rejoice in Christ"), Buxtehude paints a huge fantasy, the most developed work of his entire organ repertoire, together with the Te Deum. The five passages of the hymn are given special treatment, in which the composer's imaginative verve manifests itself in all its brilliance. Following without interruption, the five sections are themselves divided into various episodes, given unity through kinship in the melodic or rhythmic pattern. The theme of the song becomes no more than a pretext, fragmented, pulverized to the point where the most attentive of the faithful doubtless would not have recognized it. It is no coincidence that it is at this exact time that hymn-numbers began to be displayed in German churches, the organists' variations sometimes rendering the songs unrecognizable. In fact, this fantasy is composed somewhat in the manner of a vast Prelude and Fugue (Praeludium) : the first section in the form of a prelude, then a four-voice fugue with an epilogue in toccata, a huge central episode, itself built in the manner of a Praeludium in several episodes (Prelude - Fugue - Prelude - Fugue), a toccata for the fourth movement, and finally, fugue and epilogue. Mad virtuosity, sovereign mastery of composition, dazzling imagination : this monumental piece is both one of the most complex and most masterful of all organ writings before J.S. Bach.

Text after Gilles Cantagrel original

Jean-Charles Ablitzer


Born in 1946 and attracted early in life by the organ, Jean-Charles Ablitzer was self-taught before enrolling in the Strasbourg Conservatory, where he studied under Pierre Vidal. In 1971 he won the post of organist at Saint-Christophe Cathedral of Belfort, home of the great Valtrin-Callinet organ restored by Kurt Schwenkedel of Strasbourg. The same year he was also named professor of organ at the Belfort Conservatory.

J.C. Ablitzer's extensive knowledge of baroque music and instruments conditions the rigorous discipline of his style, which reflects the principles described in learned treatises; his personal discoveries regarding registration, articulation and phrasing; and his research into antique organs (construction materials, keyboard and pedalboard configuration). Jean-Charles Ablitzer is an ardent chamber-music performer, and has participated in numerous baroque ensemble concerts and recordings.

The high quality of Ablitzer's recordings (Bach, Couperin) has received ample praise from the critics : "…Playing a superb Catalan instrument with the characteristic Iberian nasality, Ablitzer constructs a glittering monument resounding with vast incandescent figures. Phrasing, registration, and digital dexterity are stunning. No one since Chapuis has played Couperin this brilliantly…" (from a review by Jean-Luc Macia).

Ablitzer's two recordings of François Couperin Masses were ranked by the monthly review "Le Monde de la Musique" as among the ten best classical recordings of 1987.
"…Jean-Charles Ablitzer's abilities as a colourist enable him to etch the smallest details of a tormented work that eschews comfortable harmonies and banal equilibrium, and to confront its most lyrical effusions with aplomb. This "Complete Works" (Buxtehude) in progress is devilishly promising…" (from a review by Paul Meunier).

"…But never fear; the Belfort organist doesn't drag Brahms over the borderline into austere pedantry. He remembers the lesson this composer learned during his long stay in Vienna, the importance of smooth flow and sunny declamation : here is a recording flooded with just that Viennese spirit…" (from a review by Xavier Lacavalerie).

"…his fervour is enough to draw tears from a stone, but it is his exuberance and joy that fulfil the crucial role of restoring to Titelouze's music its original sharp brilliance and dazzling verve. The centuries fall away, the musical themes engage with each other like flashing swords of light…" (from a review by Paul Meunier).

"…dedicated to Georg Boehm, known for having influenced the great Bach, his works, it is now proven, deserve their own success. To the glowing chorales, Monique Zanetti lends her pureness and ecstatic innocence, while Jean-Charles Ablitzer offers glory and enlightenment.” (from a review by Paul Meunier).

"…he is well aware of the recent musicological evolutions, his application of which is extremely seductive… He is not the prisoner of any fashion in his choice of tempi, phrasing, or registration. On the contrary, he is constantly inspired, proposing innovative solutions with every page." (from a review by Francis Albou /J.S. Bach, Organ works in Goslar).



Te Deum laudamus BuxWV 218

Choral BuxWV 210
"Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein"
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