Buxtehude: Membra Jesu Nostri / Haller

Album cover art for upc 4010072774361
Label: Christophorus
Catalog: CHR77436
Format: CD


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. 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 performance by Benoît Haller and la Chapelle Rhénane recreates the full emotional impact of this monumental, intensely expressive poem.

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