Buxtehude: Membra Jesu Nostri / Kuijken
Sigiswald Kuijken / La Petite Bande
Dieterich Buxtehude: Membra Jesu Nostri BUXWV 75 / Fried-Und Freudenreiche Hinfahrt BuxWV 76
Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri is an enigmatic work: not only the utilisation of a Latin text places it apart from the remainder of the Protestant Buxtehude’s compositions, and for this reason it was surely never performed at his well-known Abendmusiken (evening concerts). The cycle consists of seven meditations on the wounds of Christ which are brought into the context of the suffering and death of the Redeemer in a similar manner to meditations on the seven sorrows of Mary or the seven last words of Christ on the cross which were intended to enable believers to experience vicarious suffering in contemplation of the events of the passion. The meditations begin with the feet of Christ and continue with reflections on his knees, hands, sides, breast and heart, culminating in the contemplation of the face of Christ. The core of each of the seven cantatas is formed of three verses taken from the mediaeval hymn Oratio rhythmica, which was originally attributed to Bernhard von Clairvaux. These mystical contemplations are contrasted by a selection of passages from the Bible chosen by Buxtehude who creates musically elaborate settings of these texts. This composition is complemented by the heartfelt lamentation of the Fried- und Freudenreiche Hinfahrt (Peaceful and joyous journey to heaven) which Buxtehude completed on the death of his father, producing a highly personal expression of lamentation.