The Huelgas Ensemble was founded in 1971 by Paul Van Nevel and is set to celebrate its jubilee with some of its closest musical friends: the Netherlands Chamber Choir, conducted by Peter Dijkstra, and Anima Eterna, conducted by Jos Van Immerseel. Together they will transport listeners on a polyphonic journey through history, from mediaeval motets to the colourful harmonies of Messiaen. Anima Eterna will enrich the evening with a performance of “Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott”, a cantata by Dietrich Buxtehude.
A great deal has been published about Buxtehude’s life. The list of books and articles is long. There is a magnificent biography by Kerala Snyder and a solid Buxtehude-Werke-Verzeichnis by Georg Karstädt, as well as several editions of his organ works and an edition of his complete vocal works. The Lübecker Abendmusiken are often cited, and it has not been forgotten that J.S. Bach made the multi-day journey on foot to Lübeck in order to hear Buxtehude, yet we rarely hear his work performed.
Although there is a first-class choice from 275 compositions, the music is not showy; there are no stories to reflect on alongside it. Instead it provides space for intimacy, warmth, piety and silent emotion, but without sentimentality. The same applies to “Nimm von uns”. The fearful pleading, the contempt for evil, the panic, the comfort; all effects are captivatingly depicted (note the tremulandi), ending with a grandiose AMEN such as we otherwise only find in Bach (and perhaps Monteverdi). We only have “Nimm von uns” in tablature in the universitetsbibliotek of Uppsala, where what would “normally” be the cello part is marked “Fagotto”. Buxtehude was decidedly a friend of this instrument, and in 1685 he had a Bass-Bombard bought for the Marienkirche. We follow the edition by Buxtehude-scholar Bruno Grusnick. The organ, made by Luc Meurice, is in part inspired by the pipes of the Compenius organ of Frederiksborg. Buxtehude can be a challenge.
Jos van Immerseel
Translation: Anna Asbury
The invitation of Paul Van Nevel: