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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger

Esias REUSNER (the younger) (1636-1679)
Suites (6) for the Lute (1667)
Suite in d        (15.18)
Suite in c          (8.07)
Suite in D       (15.41)
Suite in g          (9.12)
Suite in c        (13.34)
Suite in e          (10.31)
Konrad Junghänel playing a 1984 copy by Nico van derWaals of an 11 course
Baroque lute by Johann Christian Hoffmann.

Booklet in English, French, and German
Recorded May 30 1991, Temple St. Marcel, Paris
DHM [Deutsche Harmonia Mundi] 05472 77850 2  [73.36]
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Konrad Junghänel’s recording of the Bach Lute Suites, while very precisely played, seemed somewhat lacking in colour, especially compared to the stupefying virtuosity of Jakob Lindberg whose recording has pretty much swept the field of recordings of these works.  Here, in this recording of Esias Reusner’s lute suites, there is no lack of colour either in the music or in the playing.  Compared with others of his time, such as Lully and Froberger, Reusner is surprisingly tuneful, his harmonic logic is engaging and adventuresome.

Each suite consists of about half a dozen dance movements, including a Praeludium, a Passacaglia, two arie, and two Paduani in addition to the usual Courants, Sarabands, Allemands, and Gigues.The movements of the suites are thematically related to produce integrated works. This performance brings out these qualities in the music with grace and particularly with skilled use of ornaments.  Clearly the artist loves this music and he communicates that to the listener. 

Esias Reusner was born in Löwenberg, Silesia in 1736 and was taught by his father (also Esias Reusner) who was a virtuoso lutenist and who published compositions in the older German Lute style, typified by chordal texture.  At the age of 14, Reusner the Younger entered the service of a Polish Princess in Breslau where he had the opportunity of continuing his studies with a noted French virtuoso; henceforth he adopted the newly popular French “style brisé,” melding it well with the German style, and published many works apart from this set of six suites.  His health was never robust and, after various court appointments, including Leipzig and Brandenburg, he died in Berlin 1679 at the age of 43 leaving his widow with three young sons.

At the risk of outraging purists, I must say that every classical collection needs a few CD’s of music to be played on repeat for social occasions, where those who want to listen and sit near the speakers will be find the music worthy of their interest and will look forward to hearing it several times, and those who want to chat and sit (hopefully) further from the speakers will be stimulated subliminally by the intriguing and agreeable sounds.  This recording fills that bill admirably.  The performance is remarkably free from distracting finger noises, and the resonating strings of the lute provide a soft sound aura.

Paul Shoemaker

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