Running to more than 150 bars, the Chorale Fantasia on the Christmas melody ‘Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ’, BuxWV188, is among the longest and most elaborate of Buxtehude’s chorale settings. The first section (bars 1–37) makes much of the repeated notes with which the melody begins (‘Ge-lo-bet’) and although the right hand (playing on the Rückpositiv) features these notes, for the most part it contributes a joyful descant above the left hand (Oberwerk) and pedals. The second section (bars 38–67, from 1'47'') is an extemporization on the second line of the melody, and the third section (bars 68–98, from 3'24'') is based upon the third line, which initially appears in the lowest voices in combination with rhythmical material that seems to hark back to the first line. In bars 99–138 (from 5'03''), the fourth line is given a jig-like treatment which makes a feature of the contrasting sonorities of Oberwerk and Rückpositiv; and there is a brilliant coda.
from notes by Relf Clark © 2012