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Sylvius Leopold WEISS (1687-1750)
Galanterie: Music for Lute - Volume 3
Parthie in D minor [21:29]
Sonata in C minor [26:36]
Sonata in F minor [25:53]
Nigel North (lute)
rec. 16-18 October, 2012, St Andrew’s Church, Toddington, Gloucestershire
BGS RECORDS BGS125 [73:59]

I’ve reviewed a number of albums of Sylvius Weiss’s lute sonatas over the years, and have loved all of them. There are two main reasons for that: Weiss was a great composer for lute, whose music is always finely crafted, subtly expressive, and extremely beautiful; and the performers who gravitate to him are the very best lutenists alive. Weiss is a true performer’s composer and one who deserves to be as loved by the general public as he is by the musicians who play his music.

Robert Barto is recording an excellent sonata series on Naxos, although the most recent volume was released in early 2012, which suggests the project may be abandoned. That would be terrible news. But the brilliant Nigel North is now stepping into the gap on the BGS label, and this Volume 3 features all works in minor keys, including the only surviving sonata from Weiss we have in F minor. These were written for, and are here performed on, 13-course lute, photographed in the booklet.

It should go without saying that the music and performance are superb. I can only point to a few highlights: the Parthie in D minor opens with a free “Fantasia,” and the Sonata in F minor is a truly great work, with a powerful sarabande and an unexpectedly cheery concluding gigue that skillfully weaves between major and minor keys.

Nigel North writes his own clear, enjoyable four-page booklet essay. The recorded sound is flawless. I am curious why the Naxos series has numberings for each sonata, but this BGS series does not offer any numberings; is there a musicological explanation for this? It makes it difficult to tell if these works have already been recorded. Not that comparisons are necessary: just about every Weiss album is a gem, and this is no exception. A great introduction to the composer, too, for those who have yet to become addicted to the sound-world of the lute.

Brian Reinhart

Editor's Note
Weiss' works have been catalogued in three ways according to www.slweiss.de. There are WeissSW (Sämtliche Werke) numbers used by Naxos to number the Sonatas. Each individual piece by Weiss has been catalogued by Smith, so a single Sonata may consist of several Smith Nos. Finally there are Klima numbers deriving from the work of Josef Klima.

 

 




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