Matthias Weckmann (c 1616-1674)
Der Tod ist verschlungen in den Sieg

Isabelle Atkinson soprano
Ryan Williams
Seán Purtell bass

Franz Tunder (1614-1667)
O Jesu dulcissime

Charles Cunliffe bass

Dieterich Buxtehude (c 1637/9-1707)
Membra Jesu nostri (excerpts)

I. Ad Pedes

Caroline Blair and Alexandra Beason soprano
Ryan Williams tenor
Charles Cunliffe bass

III. Ad Manus

Isabelle Atkinson and Alexandra Beason soprano
Anita Monserrat alto
Toshi Ogita
Seán Purtell bass

VII. Ad Faciem

Anita Monserrat and Sally Lundgren alto
Toshi Ogita tenor
Seán Purtell bass

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621)
Fantasia cromatica, SwWV 258

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4


Chorus. Christ lag in Todesbanden

Duet. Den Tod niemand zwingen kunnt

Caroline Blair soprano
Sally Lundgren

Aria. Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn

Ryan Williams tenor

Chorus. Es war ein wunderlicher Krieg

Aria. Hier ist das rechte Osterlamm

Sean Purtell bass

Aria/Duet. So feiern wir das hohe Fest

Isabelle Atkinson soprano
Toshi Ogita tenor

Chorale. Wir essen und leben wohl

John Butt director
Jozef Gaszka solo organ
Academy Bach Consort
Academy Baroque Soloists

John Butt is Gardiner Professor of Music at the University of Glasgow and musical director of the Dunedin Consort.

As an undergraduate at the University of Cambridge, he held the office of organ scholar at King’s College. Continuing as a graduate student working on the music of Bach, he received his PhD in 1987. He was subsequently a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen and a Fellow of Magdalene College Cambridge, joining the faculty at UC Berkeley in 1989 as University Organist and Professor of Music. In autumn 1997 he returned to Cambridge as a University Lecturer and Fellow of King’s College, and in October 2001 he took up his current post at Glasgow. His books have been published by Cambridge University Press: these include Bach Interpretation (1990), a handbook on Bach’s Mass in B Minor (1991), Music Education and the Art of Performance in the German Baroque (1994). Playing with History (2002) marked a new tack, examining the broad culture of historically informed performance and attempting to explain and justify it as a contemporary phenomenon. He is also editor or joint editor of both the Cambridge and Oxford Companions to Bach and of the Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Music (2005). His book on Bach’s Passions, Bach’s Dialogue with Modernity, was published in 2010, and explores the ways in which Bach’s Passion settings relate to some of the broader concepts of modernity, such as subjectivity and time consciousness.

Butt’s conducting engagements with the Dunedin Consort since 2003 have included major Baroque repertory and several new commissions. He has been guest conductor with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The English Concert, the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, the Royal Academy of Music Bach series, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Portland Baroque Orchestra and the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. Butt also continues to be active as a solo organist and harpsichordist. Eleven recordings on organ, harpsichord and clavichord have been released by Harmonia Mundi. As conductor or organist he has performed throughout the world, including recent trips to Germany, France, Poland, Israel, Korea, Canada, Belgium, Holland and the Republic of Ireland.

In 2003, he was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and received the Dent Medal of the Royal Musical Association. That year his book, Playing with History, was shortlisted for the British Academy’s annual Book Prize. In 2006 he was elected Fellow of the British Academy and began a two-year Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for his research on Bach’s Passions. He has recently served on the Council of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. In January 2011 he became the fifth recipient of the Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation’s Bach Prize, for his work in the performance and scholarship of Bach. In 2013 John Butt was awarded the medal of the Royal College of Organists and the OBE for his services to music in Scotland.


Isabelle Atkinson
Caroline Blair
Alexandra Beason
Catriona Holsgrove

Catriona Holsgrove
Anita Monserrat
Sally Lundgren

Ryan Williams
Toshi Ogita

Charles Cunliffe
Seán Purtell


First violin
Charlotte Spruit

Second violin
Marguerite Wassermann

Hannah Gardiner
Hannah Teasdale

Viola da gamba
Kate Conway

Osian Jones

Double bass
Evangeline Tang

Chamber organ
Joshua Ryan

Solo organ
Jozef Gaszka

The richness of vocal church music in seventeenth-century Northern Germany was largely down to its organists. Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, the Dutch organist and teacher, might be understood to have established this tradition. His organ pupils included Jacob Praetorius II, Heinrich Scheidemann, Paul Siefert, Melchior Schildt, and Samuel and Gottfried Scheidt. Sweelinck’s compositional influence was great too. His music appears in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book – which otherwise only contains the work of English composers – and John Bull, possibly a friend of Sweelinck’s, wrote a set of variations on a theme by the Dutch organist.

Sweelinck was a famous improviser, which gained him the nickname 'Orpheus of Amsterdam'. More than 70 of his keyboard works have survived, and many of them are charged with this improvisatory spirit. His Fantasia cromatica, with its tantalisingly mysterious opening that seems to melt in downwards slithering semitones, grows into a work of contrapuntal richness.

Matthias Weckmann was organist at St James’ Church in Hamburg (Hauptkirche St Jacobi) from 1655. He studied as a chorister in Dresden with Heinrich Schütz, and then later with Jacob Praetorius in Hamburg. Weckmann’s compositional style mixes Italian and French influences; he followed his teacher Schütz in his exploration of the concerto idiom. As the organ buzzes in joyful basslines in Der Tod ist verschlungen in den Sieg – 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?' – we might think of Weckmann himself who is buried in a family grave in St James’ beneath the organ.

Franz Tunder was in close contact with the Sweelinck-based school of Hamburg organists. Born in Lübeck, little is known about Tunder’s early life other than that he was appointed court organist to Frederick III, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp aged only 18. It is thought that he briefly studied in Florence with Girolamo Frescobaldi before this appointment. After almost a decade in Gottorf as Hoforganist, Tunder was appointed as the organist at Lübeck’s main church, the Marienkirche. This was a post that he held for the rest of his life.

At the Marienkirche, Tunder established the Abendmusiken, a series of free concerts. The musicologist Pieter Dirksen writes that the Abendmusiken originated as organ performances specifically for the businessmen who congregated at the weekly opening of the town’s stock exchange. O Jesu dulcissime reflects the inspiration Tunder took from the Italianate south. This solo motet for bass on a seventeenth-century devotional text conveys a quiet ecstasy that eventually moves into a nimbly melismatic ‘Alleluja’.

Tunder’s successor at the Marienkirche was Dieterich Buxtehude. As Buxtehude married Tunder’s daughter, Anna Margarethe, in 1668, he essentially became an heir to Tunder’s music and Abendmusiken tradition. It was Buxtehude’s organ performances in the Abendmusiken that would draw Johann Sebastian Bach to Lübeck in 1705, bringing about the 260-mile or so walk from his position at the Neue Kirche in Arnstadt. But Bach had only requested a month’s leave: upon realizing that he would not be able to walk back in time to return for his duties in Arnstadt, Bach prolonged his stay and enjoyed the Abendmusiken in Lübeck for nearly three months.

Bach’s Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4, is one of the few surviving works written by Bach for Easter Sunday. It is also considered one of his earliest cantatas, written possibly when Bach was only 22 years old. The text is made up entirely of Martin Luther’s Easter hymn of 1524. Bach preserves the verses of Luther’s hymn, which is set in chorale variation form. After an introductory instrumental sinfonia in which we hear the first line of the chorale melody, Bach retains the chorale melody throughout all seven verses and subjects it to different kinds of variation. In short, Bach was drawing on the seventeenth-century technique of chorale variations per omnes versus.

The vivid imagery of Luther’s text was evidently a source of great inspiration for Bach. Alfred Dürr cited Bach’s masterful textual interpretation: for example, silence for 'nichts' ('nothing) and impermissible part-crossing for 'gefangen' ('captive'). Despite the chorale technique, the cantata is full of variety and contrasts. From the cello line in 'Den Tod niemand zewingen kunnt' that loops in mesmeric melancholy, to the frothy melisma of the soprano and tenor duet, Bach creates music that despite its antiquated character, is full of life and expression.

Mark Seow