|Title||Danket dem Herrn, denn er ist sehr freundlich|
|Organ||Compenius(1619), Frederiksborg Slotskirke, Hillerød, Denmark|
|Record no.||DA 5262|
|Matrix no.||OCS 2618 1|
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12 December Fritz Heitmann played Buxtehude's In dulci jubilo in a recording from 1931. Today, the Danish organist, composer, musicologist and Buxtehude specialist Finn Viderø interprets Buxtehude in his version of Psalm 136: Danket dem Herrn.
Find Viderø (1906-1987) was a Danish organist, composer and music researcher. He was one of the first Danish organists who were known outside his home country, largely because of his interpretations of classical organ works, which were inspired by the German (neo-baroque) organ movement.
Viderø graduated as an organist in Copenhagen in 1926 and went on to study musicology in Leipzig and Paris. He later worked as a teacher affiliated with the University and Conservatory of Music in Copenhagen, but he was also a guest teacher at Yale University and was awarded an honorary doctorate at the University of Turku in Finland.
He was in particular interested in organ history, organ construction and performance practice in the 16th and 17th century, but he also had an interest in Gregorian chant, and he translated a number of Gregorian chants into Danish.
Viderø was particularly known for his interpretations of classic organ music on the basis of thorough scientific and artistic studies. He was among the major supporters of the Organ movement in Denmark. The Organ movement started in Germany in the 1920s, and eventually came to Denmark, where it reached its height around 1940.
The movement was a reaction to the Romantic performance practice of older organ works, the supporters of the movement believed that it was necessary to return to the sources and research on how the composers had intended their works to be played. Ivar Mæland wrote about the playing style in his obituary of Viderø:
Now it was time to shed all sentimentality, now it was time to go to the sources, as Bernhard Christensen so nicely put it "to give as accurate as possible picture of a bygone era of music perception. A live engagement, which warns against conventional thinking, stuck in adopted standards”
For Viderø there was only one way to play a piece right, he wrote in the magazine Dansk Musiktidsskrift in 1929:
It is obvious, when you look at the history and structure of the (concert) form that one and only one performance method may be correct, namely that which locates the correct dynamic contrasts in the right places. All other performance aspects departs from what Bach wanted with this form and is thus out of style and therefore untrue.
But finding the true performance style was particularly difficult since the original manuscripts of many works no longer existed. Many of Buxtehude's works existed only in transcripts from the 18th century, which were not necessarily true to the original. Not everyone was convinced that Viderøs interpretation was the right one. The Musical Times wrote in a review of Viderøs new release of works by Buxtehude in 1986 that:
Videro takes issue with some of the current interpretations (Hedar, Beckmann) and gives lengthy raisonnées of his own version. These are often very interesting but sometimes controversial: see for example the opening of the F sharp minor prelude, where Videro smooths out the dissonant LH crotchets of bars 10-12 into a chromatic line. Feasible, but is it necessarily more Buxtehudian? One must however realize that in the circumstances one’s concept of what is genuinely Buxtehudian’ cannot be immutable.
Find Viderø's conviction followed him into the church. Just like the organist should go back to the sources in their performances, the organ builders should do the same in their constructions. The result was, among other, the organ in Jægersborg church, where Viderø was organist, which has been described as "one of the Organ movement's most prominent presentation instruments”.
Also in Niels Wilhelm Gade's old church, Holmen church, the Organ movement put their mark. In 1924, the Daniel Kohn organ in the church was rebuilt by initiative of one of Viderøs fellow believers, the church's cantor Mogens Wøldike. Organs built by the movements standards was not have modern conveniences which had been invented in modern times, but was to be built as the organs from the Baroque.
And now we can present the recording where Finn Viderø demonstrate how he believed Buxtehude’s music should be played. This is Viderø performing Buxtehude’s Psalm 136: Danket dem Herrn on the Compenius organ from 1619 in Frederiksborg Castle Curch in Hillerød, Denmark, in a recording from 22 March 1949.
I leave today on holiday so will miss the last few days of this Advent calendar. I have enjoyed tremendously listening to the music, reading the background story and looking at the accompanying artwork. I listened to it each morning when I first arrive at work and I must say that it has truly put me in the holiday spirit this year. Thank you so much for putting this all together.
From New York City,
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