> Weiss Lute Sonatas Vol 5 [AD] [KS]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Sylvius Leopold WEISS
Lute Sonatas, Volume 5
Sonata No. 38 in C Major

  • Prelude
  • Allemande
  • Courante
  • Bourrée
  • Sarabande
  • Menuet
  • Presto
  • Tombeau sur la mort de M. Cajetan Baron díHartig
Sonata No.43 in A minor
  • Allemande: Andante
  • Courante
  • Bourrée
  • Sarabande
  • Menuet
  • Presto
Robert Barto Ė Baroque Lute
NAXOS 8.554833 [68:20]


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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.

Andy Daly

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 made possible.

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.

Kevin Sutton


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