Gramophone

This CD could be subtitled “Buxtehude’s Greatest Hits” as it consists of some of the composer’s most characteristic and best –known organ works. The programme contains three types of pieces: short intimate chorale preludes, longer multi-sectioned chorale fantasias with vivid word-painting, and dramatic preludes, fugues and chaconnes.

David Hamilton’s impeccable performances serve the composer wells noticeable that allegro passages aren’t played too fast, thus allowing the music to speak clearly and strongly. On the other hand, the fugues in G minor and F sharp minor are a little on the slow side, and another small reservation I have is the frequent stop changes in the C minor Ciacona. One can understand Hamilton’s eagerness to show off the may colours of the wonderful Aubertin organ but there’s already plenty of variety in Buxtehude’s colourful and inventive writing. On the plus side, Hamilton;s well paced performance of the C major prelude is first-rate, while the C major Gigue fugue dances beautifully.

Hamilton’s measured and unfussy approach to Buxtehude is heard at its best in all the chorale-based compositions and he finds some lovely sounds from the 2004 three-manual organ. This outstanding instrument is one of the most important new organs to have appeared in Britain recently and the opportunity to hear it on CD is a cause for rejoicing. Hamilton provides exemplary programme notes and this CD is certainly a worthy addition to the Buxtehude discography.

—Christopher Nickol