I’ve reviewed Barto’s
Weiss before (see review).
Nothing in volume eight has given me any reason to mitigate, diminish
or qualify the admiration for his playing that I expressed in
volume seven. This is eloquent, technically adroit, textually
sensitive and emotively distinguished playing by anyone’s standards.
finds Barto balancing the broadly serene with dextrous control
of melody lines. His slow movements are invariably powerfully
expressive and in his hands the colours he evokes in the lower
reaches of his Andrew Rutherford lute (New York, 1996) are a
source of engagement and admiration. As before one finds the
heart in Weiss’s Sarabandes and in one sense the heart of Barto’s
playing resides in them as well.
The Sonata No.19,
provisionally dated to 1719, has a lyrically flowing Allemande
at its heart and is played with such dextrous control by Barto
that its six and a half minutes pass with intense rapidly. The
unusual Gigue that ends this sonata is nevertheless played with
real verve and exciting dynamism.
Sonata No.34 is
the longest of the three works in this volume. This was one
of the pieces of his that had achieved a small vogue before
the Second World War. Foremost amongst its very finest qualities
are those that reflect the influence of J.S. Bach. All movements
respond to Barto’s eager and sensitive playing – the tangy lower
strings in the Bourée are a particular pleasure. And whilst
it’s true that the Sarabande here is more compact and less intense
than most other similar movements in his works its “stripped
down” quality attests to a more concentrated core lyricism,
one that bears its simplicity with nobility.
There is a rival
Weiss series on Claves though I’ve heard no performances that
overlap. On the evidence of only one disc by Yasunori Imamura
I would hesitantly suggest that the Claves player employs rather
more dynamic shadings than Barto and maybe more rubato as well.
This – one has to stress again, on limited audition – leads
me to think that Imamura’s Sarabandes and Allemandes are that
much slower than Barto’s and that his approach generally marries
a certain improvisatory quality with a broad approach to tempi.
Time will tell.
Barto’s cycle however
is impressive. The music on this volume doesn’t quite reach
the heights of that on volume seven but adherents will waste
no opportunities to acquaint themselves with this latest success.
see also Review
by Mark Sealy