Membra Jesu Nostri – Dietrich Buxtehude


A century after the bloody episodes of the religious wars between Catholics and Reformed, Europe finds a relative serenity in the 17th century. On both sides, the major religious services have fundamentally opposite appearances: Catholics, under the influence of the counter-reforms, seek to influence through demonstrations, pomposity, while Protestants favor a form of austerity aimed at guiding the faithful to concentrate only on the scriptures. Yet, both groups simultaneously adopt new practices of domestic devotion with many similarities.

A tradition of spiritual concert, apart from the liturgy, putting the music in the first place, is expanding in Europe. In Paris, at the Hôtel de Guise, sacred music finds a place in its daily life with the devout and pious Princess of Guise commissions to her resident composer, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, many musical pieces intended to be played either at the small special services in her chapel, or during the evenings where she invites a circle of friends, intellectuals and artists.

On the other side of the Rhine, in the north of Germany: the concerts of Abendmusik of St. Mary’s Church in Lübeck are created in the middle of the 17th century by Franz Tunder, and quickly become a famous event of the Advent season. Revived by Dietrich Buxtehude, they take another dimension. This tradition (which lasted until the 19th century!) reveals a more general practice of devotion: it takes place throughout the year and shows to what extent music occupies a central place in Lutheran devotion. Two lieder are associated to the 7 cantatas cycle Membra Jesu Nostri in this program: Klaglied, composed for the death of Buxtehude’s father, and Herzlich hab ich dich O Herr.

In line with the musical identity of the ensemble Correspondances developed since its creation on the intimate repertoire composed by Charpentier for his patron, the Princess of Guise, this programs offers a magnificent and rich setting for choir and ensemble.


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