Dietrich Buxtehude: (1737-1708)

Behind J.S. Bach stood Dietrich Buxtehude, the pre-eminent German composer of the 17th century. Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Sleepers awake! The voice calls us) uses the parable, from Matthew’s gospel, of the wise and foolish virgins at the wedding feast. Buxtehude’s setting uses the familiar melody and all three verses of Philipp Nicolai’s hymn. Phrases from the chorale melody are employed as a subject for imitation creating fugal polyphonic textures, and are almost always disguised by some sort of ornamentation that relates directly to the meaning of the text of the chorale. Scored for three only three voices, 2 sopranos and 1 bass, it is remarkable for its four violin parts, used as if they were trumpets. 

©Ryan Turner
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