Dunedin Consort – Buxtehude Anniversary Concert
Queens Hall, Edinburgh, Sun 18 Nov
Composers’ anniversaries can be neat pegs upon which to hang concert programmes, with the added bonus that audiences hear music that otherwise might not get much of an airing. In the case of Dietrich Buxtehude, the greatest German composer in the generation preceding Bach and Handel, the Dunedin Consort succeeds on both counts with a special concert marking the 300th anniversary of his death.
‘He is an amazing composer,’ says Dunedin Artistic Director and soprano, Susan Hamilton, ‘and I think he’s not heard much as people get scared about unknown territory. In this country, Baroque music is not readily accepted.’
The programme will feature some of Buxtehude’s extraordinarily expressive vocal music, including his setting of the chorale melody, Jesu, meine Freude. ‘It’s the same tune that Bach more famously set, but this is Buxtehude’s take on it,’ explains Hamilton. ‘His music is full of different choral colours. He’s a bit more basic than Bach, but then he was that bit earlier.’
Giving the chance to hear the two composers alongside each other, the Dunedin Consort also performs Bach’s cantata Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, written in 1707, the year that Butehude died. ‘It is simply sublime,’ says Hamilton, ‘and takes you back to an earlier world.’
In contrast is a newly-commissioned chamber version of contemporary composer Sally Beamish’s Showings, based on visions seen by the 14th century religious recluse, Julian of Norwich.
With the coveted Classic FM Gramophone Award 2007 for the Best Baroque Vocal Recording under their belt for Handel’s Messiah, a recording of Bach’s St Matthew Passion due to be released at Easter and the launch of an imaginative new friends scheme, the Dunedins are clearly on an upward trajectory at the moment. ‘The next question is, “What do we do after this?”’ says Hamilton, adding quickly: ‘Watch this space . . .’