This charming little work, a favourite in Germany though less well known elsewhere, survives only in a single, manuscript source: a set of parts and a score from the extensive collection of Gustav Düben, who was Kapellmeister at the German church in Stockholm from 1663 till his death in 1690. Düben knew Buxtehude (who lived in Lübeck), and over 100 Buxtehude pieces are in his collection; but the Magnificat cannot be shown to be one of them. The manuscript did not originally bear the name of any composer, although Buxtehude’s name has been added in square brackets on the title page by a later hand. The basis of the attribution appears to be solely that Bruno Grusnick, the editor of the first modern edition (Bärenreiter, 1931), believed that the music bore all the marks of Buxtehude’s style. A more recent scholar, Martin Geck, pointed out the obvious: the Magnificat does not actually resemble any known work by Buxtehude. Its lilting triple-time melodies with frequent hemiolas, its simple diatonic harmony with much use of thirds, and its clear sectional structure, are all features of the Franco-Italian middle baroque bel canto style of Carissimi and Lully which was widely imitated, but not by Buxtehude. The authorship of the Magnificat remains in doubt, but there is no doubt of its delightful melodic appeal and endearing simplicity. The scoring is for two violins, two violas, cello, bass, and continuo.
from notes by Collegium Records © 2009