Leopold WEISS (1687-1750) Lute Sonatas - Volume 9
Sonata No.52 in C minor (1740s) [30:58]
Sonata No.32 in F major (1720-25) [21:50]
Sonata No.94 in G minor [12:40]
rec. St Andrew’s Church, Toddington, Gloucestershire, April
2007 NAXOS 8.570551 [65:29]
Barto’s distinguished Weiss recordings for Naxos have now
reached volume nine. As before he demonstrates a wide range
of tone colours, immaculate technical address and an unerring
appreciation of Weiss’ quasi-improvisational style. The result
is a trio of performances that in every way meets the expectations
now placed in the lutenist. And if none of these works approaches
the majesty of those contained in, say volume seven of the
series (see review)
then one must also concede that they nevertheless contain
all those elements that make Weiss so noble, so expressive
and so powerfully important a composer in this milieu.
C minor sonata, cast in six movements, is by some way the
longest and grandest of the three here. The extensive French
overture is beautifully nuanced in all three of its sections,
Barto’s technical armoury entirely equal to the demands placed
on it and his colouristic sense fully engaged from the start.
The Campanella-like Bourée sees him emphasise the bell like
articulation implicit within it and he does so with brilliant
articulation. As ever he plays Weiss’s slow movement with
affecting lyricism; the most impressive in this set is the
Siciliana of this C minor, which is taken at a suitably slow
tempo. The concerto-like flourishes of the Presto finale
are despatched with aplomb, the writing rich and externalised,
and the playing virtuosic.
F major [No.32] is an earlier work written conjecturally
some time between 1720 and 1725. It’s performed in the Dresden
version as three copies survive, representing two different
versions. Its Allemande is refined and leisurely and full
of decorative assurance but for me the highlight is the Bourée.
Not only is this an example of Weiss at his most uplifting
but it also reveals some of Barto’s great strengths – an
ability to infuse the music with the most buoyant and immaculate
rhythmic incisiveness allied to great warmth of tonal resources.
These qualities are heightened by the succeeding cantabile
of the Sarabande and by the Gigue that concludes the sonata.
One of the revisions undertaken by Weiss was to replace a
Gigue in 6/8 with one in 9/8 and the result is engaging and
final work stands at a slight remove from its companions.
The G minor No.94 derives from a manuscript in the Glinka
Museum in Moscow, music conjecturally brought to Russia from
Dresden by Weiss’ pupil Bielogradsky. Whatever the exact
origin or derivation it’s a small, charming series of dances
with a delightful Paisane and a rare, early use of the Polonaise
in its penultimate movement.
recording, made in St Andrew’s Church, Toddington, is once
again first class and Tim Crawford’s notes enhance this characteristically
fine disc. Barto has competitors in Weiss recordings – Imamura
and Lindberg among them - but for my money he is the most
eloquent of them all, and this comprehensive series is a
tribute to his skill and involvement.
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