Bruhns: Complete Cantatas
Brilliant Classics 95138. 75’47+63’19
Nicolaus Bruhns (1665-1697) is one of the most important organist/composers of the North German 17th century Baroque: that extraordinary outpouring of music that over the whole century developed and honed a distinctive style that the likes of Handel and Bach carried forward into the 18th century. The favourite pupil of the famed Lübeck organist, Dietrich Buxtehude, Bruhns came from a family of musicians. He came from Husem, then part of Denmark, but his family had strong musical connections with Lübeck. After a time in Copenhagen, Bruhns returned to Husem as city organist, where he remained until his untimely death, aged just 31.
Only 12 vocal works and 5 organ pieces survive, but all are of an exceptionally high standard, technically and musically. All 12 of his cantatas are included on this double CD set. They include some superb example of evocative mood-setting – listen to the opening instrumental bars of De Profundis Clamavi (CD 1/3) and the later plaintive violin passages for example. Like his North German predecessors, he was strongly influence by Italian music. We do not know for which occasion these works were composed, but their style and technical complexity is wide ranging, suggesting individual commissions for a variety of different forces.
The singing is not to a universally high standard, although there is a particularly good tenor in Jauchzet dem Herren, alle Welt (Richard Resels). But, at a real bargain price, this is well worth considering for the sheer brilliance of the music itself.