About the album
The seven-part cantata cycle “Membra Jesu nostri” owes its origin to the close and lasting friendship between two musicians, the Lübeck organist Dieterich Buxtehude and the Stockholm organist and capellmeister Gustav Düben. It remains unknown when and how this friendship across the Baltic Sea developed, but Düben—Buxtehude’s senior by ten years—belonged to a 17th and 18th-century Swedish family of musicians who were of German descent.
The first known member of the dynasty, Andreas Düben (1555-1625), was for thirty years, from 1595 until his death, organist at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. His son, Andreas (c. 1597-1662), enrolled 1609 as a student in the University of Leipzig, but left in 1614 in order to become a pupil of the organist Jan Pieterson Sweeelinck in Amsterdam, where he remained for six years. In 1620 he became court organist in Stockholm, in 1625 organist of the German church there as well, and in 1640 was appointed court capellmeister in Stockholm. His son, Gustav (c. 1628-1690), grew up in the Swedish capital, received his musical training primarily from his father, but reportedly also studied abroad, even though no details about his foreign travels are documented. In 1663 he succeeded his father in the positions as court capellmeister and organist of the German church in Stockholm. After his death in 1690, he too was succeeded by his son, also named Gustav (1660-1726). The latter was ennobled in 1698 by King Charles XII whom he followed into the Great Northern War (1700-1721) where he encountered and eventually hired for the Swedish court capelle Johann Sebastian Bach’s older brother, Johann Jacob (b. Eisenach 1682-d. Stockholm 1722).
According to the Latin title page of the autograph manuscript of Buxtehude’s “Membra” the work is dedicated to the composer’s “amico” (friend) Gustav Düben. As the manuscript bears the date 1680, it is the first document of their friendship, which lasted for at least ten years until Düben’s death in 1690. Numerous manuscripts of other Buxtehude works, primarily vocal compositions, can be found in Düben’s rich music collection (today in the University Library of Uppsala) and provide further testimony to their close relationship. Moreover, in most instances they represent the only extant sources of many works of the Lübeck master.
It is unclear but seems likely that Düben commissioned the “Membra” from his friend for performances in Stockholm. Whether the work was also performed in Lübeck is not known, but the Abendmusiken series at the St. Mary’s Church under Buxtehude’s direction would have been an appropriate venue. The full Latin title of the cycle (from Buxtehude’s autograph) reads “Membra Jesu Nostri Patientis Sanctissimi” (Most Holy Members [of the body] of Our Suffering Jesus”). This multi-sectional sacred work of non-liturgical character is based on lyric poetry of medieval mysticism, usually attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, but more likely written by Arnulf of Louvain (1200-1250). The source for Buxtehude’s text seems to have been an edition published 1633 in Hamburg under the heading “D. Bernhardi Oratio Rhythmica”.
Meeslepende uitvoering van Buxtehude's bekendste werk
Deel XVI van de Opera Omnia met de titel Membra Jesu Nostri is het 6e album in de reeks met vocale werken van Dieterich (Dietrich, Diderich) Buxtehude. Het is een cyclus van 7 cantates meeslepend en ook emotioneel uitgevoerd door Ton Koopman en het Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir. "Ton Koopman has an insatiable energy and exudes an enthusiasm that is contagious to all that are present.", J. Gahre, Das Opernglas, november 2011.
Membra Jesu Nostri bestaat uit lange teksten, waarin steeds een ander deel van het gekruisigde lichaam van Christus wordt bezongen: de voeten, de knieën, de handen, de zij, de borst het hart en het hoofd. Dit veelomvattende onkerkelijke werk is gebaseerd op de lyrische poëzie van de middeleeuwse mystiek.
Buxtehude was een Deens-Duitse organist en een door velen bewonderde componist uit de barokperiode. Hij componeerde vocale en instrumentale muziek. Het grootste deel van zijn oeuvre bestaat uit divers vocaal werk, zoals geestelijke concerten, aria's, koralen, cantates en canons, weelderige en rijke muziek. Zijn orgelwerken omvatten een aanzienlijk deel van het standaard orgelrepertoire van onze hedendaagse kerkdiensten. Buxtehude wordt beschouwd als de belangrijkste Duitse componist in de periode tussen Heinrich Schütz en Bach. Zijn stijl heeft veel componisten sterk beïnvloed. Hij was één van de grote voorbeelden van Johann Sebastian Bach. Het verhaal gaat dat Bach, toen 20 jaar, in 1705 helemaal naar Lübeck liep - 400 km - om Dieterich Buxtehude daar in de Marienkirche te horen spelen.
Wellicht dat die anekdote Ton Koopman inspireerde tot zijn project Opera Omnia om het gehele bewaard gebleven oeuvre van Buxtehude uit te voeren en op te nemen. Er was hem veel aan gelegen Buxtehude als het brein achter de vocale muziek van Bach te erkennen. Koopman is een van de meest vooraanstaande uitvoerders van oude muziek en voorzittter van het Internationale Buxtehude Gesellschaft.
Koopmans zweite Aufnahme der ‚Membra Jesu Nostri“.
Nach fast 30 Jahren erscheint nun Ton Koopmans zweite Aufnahme des siebenteiligen Kantaten-Zyklus’ nicht-liturgischen Charakters “Membra Jesu Nostri”. Das bekannteste Werke Buxtehudes erklingt in einer unvergleichlich emotionalen wie fundierten Interpretation, die seinesgleichen sucht. Die Texte stammen aus dem Umkreis der mittelalterlichen Mystik, die aus sieben Gedichten bestehen, die die sieben Glieder des Heiligen Leibes Christi anreden und über sie meditieren.
Ton Koopman was born in Zwolle in 1944. After a classical education he studied organ, harpsichord and musicology in Amsterdam and was awarded the Prix d'Excellence for both instruments. Almost from the beginning of his musical studies he was fascinated with authentic instruments and a performance style based on sound scholarship.
Even before completing his studies he laid the foundations for a career as a conductor of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music and this fascination with the Baroque era led him in 1969, at age 25, to establish his first Baroque orchestra and, in 1979, to found The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra followed in 1993 by the Amsterdam Baroque Choir.
Koopman's extensive and impressive activities as a soloist, accompanist and conductor have been recorded on a large number of LP's and CD's for labels like Erato, Teldec, Sony, Philips and DGG. Recently Ton Koopman has created his own record label: 'Antoine Marchand', with which he will publish his future recordings.
Over the course of a forty-year career Ton Koopman has appeared at the most important concert halls and festivals of the five continents. As an organist he has performed on the most prestigious historical instruments of Europe, and as a harpsichord player and conductor of his Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir he has been a regular guest at venues which include the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Theatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, the Philharmonie in Munich, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, the Lincoln Center in New York, and leading concert halls in Vienna, London, Berlin, Brussels, Madrid, Rome, Salzburg, Tokyo and Osaka. Over the past ten years Ton Koopman has been engaged in 'the recording project of the '90's' (so described by 'The Guardian' in London). Between 1994 and 2004 he has conducted and recorded all the existing cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach, a massive work for which he has been awarded with the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis "Echo Klassik 1997", the Prix Hector Berlioz, and been nominated for both the Grammy Award (USA) and the Gramophone Award (UK). In March 2000 he received an Honorary Degree from the Utrecht University for his scholarly work on the Bach Cantatas and Passions and in February 2004 he was awarded both the prestigious Silver Phonograph by the Dutch recording industry and the VSCD Classical Music Award 2004 by the Directors of Theatres and Concert Halls of Holland. Ton Koopman is also very active as a guest conductor and he has worked with many prominent orchestras in Europe, the USA and Japan including the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Boston Symphony, the Vienna Symphony, the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Danish Radio Orchestra and many others. He has been for eight years principal conductor of the Radio Chamber Orchestra in Holland and he is principal guest conductor of the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra. In the coming season he will be working with the Chicago Symphony, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Helsinki Radio Orchestra, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
Ton Koopman publishes regularly and for a number of years he has been engaged in editing the complete Handel Organ Concerti for Breitkopf & Härtel. Pedagogy has been an important factor in Ton Koopman's life for many years and to that end he is professor of harpsichord at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague and is an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Koopman captures the fascinating creative tension between the text, which is rooted in Catholic mysticism, and a sense of Buxtehude the northern Lutheran.
BBC Music Magazine, 01-11-2012
with a dream-cast