One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati







alternatively AmazonUK   AmazonUS


Silvius Leopold WEISS (1687-1750)
Lute Sonatas - Volume 8
Sonata No.36 in D minor [24:01]
Sonata No.19 in F major (1719) [23:03]
Sonata No.34 in D minor [16:07]
Robert Barto (lute)
rec. Green Room, Offord Hall, Aurora, Ontario, October 2005
NAXOS 8.570109 [63:19]

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.

Sonata Thirty-Six 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.

Jonathan Woolf

see also Review by Mark Sealy



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.