The modality of the Praeludium in the Phrygian mode, BuxWV152, is proclaimed by the pedals’ descent via F natural to low E in bars 8–9 of the free introduction (in which Buxtehude’s ability to create stirring harmony is splendidly displayed). A fugue begins at bar 18 (at 1'10''), the first three notes of its counter-subject underlining the modality. It runs without a break into the new, triple-time fugue beginning at bar 44 (at 2'32''); its subject is a variant of that of the first. The briefest of codas brings the work to a sober close and in recalling the textures of the opening bars gives it a satisfying symmetry.
from notes by Relf Clark © 2012