The Naxos series of the Lute Sonatas of Sylvius Leopold
Weiss has now reached volume 5, already an excellent collection. This
latest release, I feel, is the best yet. Robert Bartonís playing has
a noble serenity about it that draws in the listener and captures the
Baroque period most convincingly. As always, his speeds and rhythms
from movement to movement, are just right which contributes to the each
Sonataís structure as a whole.
Unlike the other discs in this series, thus far, Barto
has included a piece that exists on its own the "Tombeau sur la
mort de M. Cajetan Baron díHartig". Weiss wrote a number of these
homages to various noble personages (presumably who had connections
with music, musicians or were possibly patrons). Although John Williams
made a fine recording of this work on the guitar (Sony MK 44518), a
good authentic lute version is most welcome to the collection.
The recording is, in every way, up to the Naxos standards,
the timbres of the lute being caught in a very natural way.
Kevin Sutton adds
We owe Robert Barto a debt of thanks for bringing to
light a wealth of lute music that was not written by John Dowland.
In his continuing exploration of the music of German lutenist and composer
Sylvius Weiss, Barto proves again that he is one of the great virtuoso
players active today.
Weiss, who was born in 1687, thus a direct contemporary
of Bach, Vivaldi and Handel, was ranked amongst the major musical talents
of his day. Not only was he recognized as a great performer, he also
was an innovator in instrument design, making several structural changes
to the lute, thus broadening its range, power and depth of tone. Many
of his works are unplayable on "standard" instruments of the
day and require the extra bass strings that his technical modifications
I first came into contact with the work of Robert Barto
through his magnificent recordings of the music of Bernhard Hagen. Those
performances will forever be standouts in my collection. He does not
disappoint here either. Barto can literally sing with his lute. He plays
with a simply gorgeous sense of cantabile and line, and his work
in faster, technical passages can be breathtaking.
That the lute is one of the most soothing of instruments
has always been its draw for me as a listener. Mr. Barto gives us more
than an hour of joy in this recording. The sonatas, which are presented
as a set of dances similar to the Partitas and Suites of Bach, are virtuoso
tours de force, and Barto reels them off with tremendous aplomb. The
Tombeau sur la mort de M. Cajetan díHartig is a moving vignette,
and rounds the program nicely.
Recorded sound is just right here. The instrument sounds
warm and natural, and there is no hint of over-amplifying or in-your-face
microphone placement. Tim Crawfordís program note is informative and
concise, giving us just enough history for perspective and just enough
technicalities to enhance our understanding and enjoyment of the music.
If you are not a lover of lute music, well, you should
be. And if you need convincing, this is a fine place to start. The structure
of these sonatas will appeal to fans of early keyboard music as well.
Recommended completely. Add this one to your collection.