Sébastien Daucé Ensemble Correspondances - Buxtehude, Schütz & Dijkman: Septem Verba & Membra Jesu Nostri

Published Tuesday 25th May 2021
Sébastien Daucé Ensemble Correspondances - Buxtehude, Schütz & Dijkman: Septem Verba & Membra Jesu Nostri
Sébastien Daucé Ensemble Correspondances - Buxtehude, Schütz & Dijkman: Septem Verba & Membra Jesu Nostri

STYLE: Classical
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Harmonia Mundi HMM9023505

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

The past can often be a strange place to visit and so we need a reliable guide. Since its formation in 2008, the Ensemble Correspondances has devoted itself chiefly to French sacred music of the 17th century. Brought together by Sébastien Daucé during their studies at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon, the musicians of Correspondances continue to pursue this work, focusing notably on Marc-Antoine Charpentier, with infectious enthusiasm. For this double CD Sébastien Daucé and his musicians head north in order to explore Lutheran Europe before J S Bach. The three featured composers are Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672), Dietrich Buxtehude (c. 1637-1707), and the much less frequently heard Lüdert Dijkman (1650-1717). The three composers sit together very well and while none of them stand comparison with J S Bach all are competent and the Ensemble Correspondances give a consistently good performance, meaning it is by no means a chore to listen to two hours of somewhat obscure music. Keen students of Early and Baroque music will already be reaching for their credit cards but the more general listener may want to try before they buy. I am always interested to hear what was happening before Bach arrived to change church music almost beyond recognition and the great man certainly had great respect for Buxtehude but for this listener the subject matter is particularly alien. While I understand the desire for Christians to meditate on the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the way it was done all those years ago now seems strange; the past is indeed a foreign country. While the musical vocabulary was changing throughout the 16th century there was a reluctance to write music that explored the Passion of the Christ in anything that could be seen to be operatic. Years later Handel was still facing this dilemma with his 'Messiah'. The closest that Bach's predecessors dared to go towards what eventually became the Passion oratorios with which we are familiar were works such as 'Memba Jesu Nostri', literally 'The limbs of our Jesus'. The framework for this came from a medieval hymn cycle 'Salvi mundi salutare' in which an observer looks at the suffering Christ, starting with his feet and working up until he or she could gaze on that sacred head, sore wounded. If you want to explore further into that strange landscape that is the past then Sébastien Daucé is a good guide and the members of his Ensemble Correspondances put their hearts and souls into the project.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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