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Buxtehude Te Deum BuxWV 218

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:03 am
by Rauschpfeife
Hello Chaps.

I've been working on Buxtehude's Te Deum (BuxVW 218) this week. I read through the music at the weekend (away from the organ) and thought it might be a nice challenge and it is, but not in the way I imagined.

Although it looked quite tricky on the page I've found it very playable (which was a nice surprise :D ); the struggle I've been having is with the registration, where although I've tried applying most of the usual approaches, I just can't seem to find a coherent set of registrations with which I'm happy, so I'm here to take advice if anyone has any.

I think some of the trouble I'm having is that there are so many factors involved in registering a Buxtehude chorale sensitively, that I'm struggling to work out which to give most attention to. (Why this particular piece should give me so much trouble when others of his chorales don't, I'm not sure, except perhaps that it's rather more substantial than the rest of them.)

I've been using the Zwolle sample set to work on the piece. I planned my registrations before I started learning the piece, expecting to have to adjust them as I went on - I have. I've also been listening to the YouTube performances to try and gain some inspiration, but they're all so different that, other than a few moments where all of the performers opt for a loud registration (e.g. the opening; the end of the last movement), I haven't really identified any commonality between them.

I've tried to balance
  • the bombast of the Stylus Phantasicus
  • the potential difficulty of changing registrations between sections on an instrument without pistons (although I'm willing to imagine I've got a registrant and use them anyway :))
  • the meaning of the "text"
  • varying registrations for the sake of interest
but I've only managed to nail down pleasing combinations for the prelude and the first section Te Deum Laudamus. The rest are all provisional and I'm really struggling to find anything I can stand with the Pleni Sunt Coeli in particular.

Here's what I've got:

Bar 1: Pd. Pr16, Oc8, Sp4, MixVIII, Fg32, Bs16; Hw: Pr16, Oc8, Oc4, RsII, Sp2, MixVI, Tr8, Bw/Hw; Bw. Pr4, Sp2, SqII, MixIV
Bar 11: Pd. Pr16, Oc8, Sp4; Hw: Pr16, Oc8, Oc4, Fl4, Sp2
Bar 16: Pd. Unchanged; Bp. Ho8, Ho4, Sf113, VdiG8
Bar 40: Play on Hw. Unchanged

Te Deum Laudamus
Bar 44: Pd. Oc8, Sp4; Bp: Ho8, Ho4, Bw/Bp; Bw. Rg8
Bar 73: Pd. Unchanged; Hw: Oc8, Ro8, Oc4, Sp2

I'm happy with the two sections above. With what follows, I'm not yet happy and there also seems to be a discrepancy in ordering - many editions / versions seem to put the Pleni sunt coeli last, yet it's clearly the third section according to the text and is given as such in the edition I have (Barenreiter). This makes the bar numberings below a matter of opinion...

Pleni Sunt Coeli
Bar 95: Pd. Pr16, Oc8; Hw. Oc8, Ro8, Fl4; Rp. Pr8, Oc4, Fl4, Qu223; "O" = Hw. and "R" = Rp.
Bar 168: "O" remains the Hw. but "R" becomes the Bw. with Gf8, Ro4, Rg8
Bar 193: Possible change of registration? If this were the last movement, I'd be tempted to change to a full Hw./Pd. chorus

Te Martyrum
I've found that

Pd. Oc8; Rp. Ro8 (RH); Bw. Gf8, Ro4 (LH)

gives a nice effect for this movement, particularly where the parts are close together and the LH 4' speaks above the RH 8', but it's not very joyful. I could also do something like:

Pd. Oc8, Tr8; Rp: Pr8, Fl4, Fg16 (LH); Hw. Oc8, Oc4, Fl4 (RH)

but although there's a nice use of the 16' reed there, it's still not terribly inspiring. Substitute the reed for the Hw. Quintadena and rearrange to much the same stops on other manuals and you have another "OK" combination, but really, I'm flying blind here.

Tu Devicto
Assuming this is the last section, I'd think the last 14 bars can be played on as many stops as one wants. I've currently got Hw. / Bp. / Pd. choruses with 16'/32' reeds in the pedal and 8'/4' trompetes on the manuals, coupled together (naughty!).

The problem is the rest of the section. I want to paint a picture of "when thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death" (oh for a 4' quintadena!) and then bring out a contrast with "thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers" (maybe with the registration change in the "breath" on the 11th bar of the movement) but the first bit seems to want yet another short reed combination (groan), perhaps followed by clear, broad 16' principal registration, but even given this is Buxtehude, I'm feeling like there's a lot of reed work in what I've listed above.

Can anyone help me turn all of these thoughts / suggestions into registrations for the last 3 movements which make a more coherent whole (and give reasons for their approach)?

With many thanks for your patience / consideration,


Re: Buxtehude Te Deum BuxWV 218

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:01 am
by Hoofdwerk
I've always thought Kristian Olesen's performance at Roskilde was really stellar. Here's a link to the first movement on YouTube: Unless they're unavailable in your country, the full set should be there with a search like this: ... ian+Olesen

The scheme should be pretty easy to emulate on the Zwolle model (which provides even more possibilities with the 4th manual).

Re: Buxtehude Te Deum BuxWV 218

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 2:36 pm
by Rauschpfeife
Hoofdwerk wrote:I've always thought Kristian Olesen's performance at Roskilde was really stellar.

Having just finished listening to it, I'm inclined to agree. Thank you for providing the link - for whatever reason, this wasn't among the three that I listened to on Monday and Tuesday to try and gain some inspiration. A lovely touch with the Zimbelstern in the Pleni sunt coeli also, though I'm not usually a fan of "toy" stops!

I'm about to head downstairs to work on the aforementioned movement. I have to say that my own approach to baroque registration probably won't allow for quite as many registrational changes as Olesen uses but it's definitely given me some ideas. I loved his use of the Regal as the "echo" for the Rückpositiv registration, so I shall be stealing that immediately! I also liked the way he moves onto a solo principal for the close of the movement - which if anything will work even better with my edition of the music since that isn't the end of the piece as far as I'm concerned. I'm thinking the Viola or the Praestant on the Brustpositiv, but we'll see.

That brain dump is my way of saying "thank you - much appreciated". :)