In the Praeludium in D minor, BuxWV140, which is among the finest and most striking examples of the genre, Buxtehude alternates exuberant, fanciful passages and short, strictly written fugues. As one listens to its opening bars it is easy to imagine an organist at the end of a service putting aside his prescribed texts and allowing hands and feet to roam freely over manuals and pedals in the ways suggested by the passagework and harmonies which arise naturally from the use of the key of D minor. The free introduction leads to a four-voice fugue on a subject with octave leaps, rests and repeated notes and which combines with a chromatically falling counter-subject. This first fugue is nicely dovetailed into a further improvisatory passage, and after a grand cadence in C major there is a short second fugue, and then a third and final one whose triple-time subject is based upon the intervals of the first fugue subject. The concluding bars illustrate this style at its most phantasticus.
from notes by Relf Clark © 2011