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Buxtehude And Hindemith


nachthorn
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Two quick questions:

 

(1) I'm going to learn some Buxtehude. I'm aware of a number of different complete editions, and as I already use the Baerenreiter Bach edition, I would naturally incline towards using their Buxtehude edition too. Is this sensible? Do any of the other editions have their benefits? What are your experiences? (I should say that I haven't bought volumes of any edition yet.)

 

(2) Working on the middle movement of Hindemith's second Sonata. The are a number of instances of grace notes in the RH melody. Where applicable, for instance in the first couple of bars, do these grace notes fall on the downbeat, or just before? I've heard them recorded both ways, and while I'd incline towards playing them on the downbeat, I'm aware that I have been biased by the interpretation on a particular and favourite recording. Again, what do people think?

 

NH

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Now if you were a member of the RCO, you could read Geoffrey Webber's extensive online notes on Buxtehude's organ works and learn that there are no clear winners among the various editions. :rolleyes:

 

For the thinking musician, Belotti's edition (Broude) is apparently the recommended one. I must stress that I have not seen this, but from what I read it seems that Belotti's editorial approach is conservative in that he restricts himself to readings found in the (invariably unreliable) sources and thus he does not venture to take many of the conjectural editorial decisions that really do need to be taken to restore what Buxtehude probably wrote. This is left for the performer to do, which is fine if you're prepared to do the necessary analysis and thinking. If you want ready made decisions plumped on your plate - a "plug and play" edition as it were - then it may not be the best option.

 

Otherwise the choice nowadays is between Beckmann (Breitkopf) and Albrecht (Bärenreiter). Beckmann's editing is very interventionist and bold to the point of being controversial. Albrecht is also interventionist, but is generally considered to be more measured in his suggested conjectural readings. I now use Albrecht. However, he would have undoubtedly made some different decisions had he been aware of Belotti's work.

 

As for the slides in the Hindemith, I don't know, but I feel sure he would have expected them to come before the beat. I may be wrong, but I think it was only with the increased awarness of Baroque performance practice towards the middle of the twentieth century that people began to play the shorter ornaments (slides, mordents, acciacaturas) on the beat. Before that it was quite normal to play them all before the beat, as indeed it still is for people without any stylistic awareness. I have heard teachers insist that all such ornaments must be played on the beat, whatever the style of music, but I'm not persuaded that this is historically correct.

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Buxtehude: Beckmann does fine for me.

The first two volumes of his revised edition got a big thumbs down from Keith Elcombe when he reviewed it in Music and letters though. His conclusion, after discussing some specific readings, was:

 

"The questions which these pieces raise are typical of the contents of the two volumes together. Probably the ipsissima vox of Buxtehude's organ music will remain elusive, but the performer should surely be trusted with the knowledge of that uncertainty through the manner of presenting the text, while being able to trust the editor to provide a text that is useable. Unfortunately neither of these conditions applies here."

 

It may well be that similar objections could be levelled at Albrecht, but I do not recall seeing any and I seem to remember the reviews being much warmer.

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The first two volumes of his revised edition got a big thumbs down from Keith Elcombe when he reviewed it in Music and letters though. His conclusion, after discussing some specific readings, was:

 

"The questions which these pieces raise are typical of the contents of the two volumes together. Probably the ipsissima vox of Buxtehude's organ music will remain elusive, but the performer should surely be trusted with the knowledge of that uncertainty through the manner of presenting the text, while being able to trust the editor to provide a text that is useable. Unfortunately neither of these conditions applies here."

 

It may well be that similar objections could be levelled at Albrecht, but I do not recall seeing any and I seem to remember the reviews being much warmer.

Geoffrey Webber in Early Music (reviewing the revised version of Beckmann's edition) finds both merit and problems with both Beckmann and Albrecht, and concludes (in 1998) that there is still no really satisfactory edition available. In part he seems to prefer the decisions in Beckmann's earlier edition, where he has changed them - and comments that the main problem with that edition (which is what I have) was that the critical commentary was separate and hard to come by.

 

Paul

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