The issue of authenticity of Bach’s so-called lute music is one that continues to perplex artists today; most of the recordings of Bach’s lute music range from transcriptions of the cello and certain solo violin suites to other more capriciously chosen works that are made to “fit” the instrument. Indeed, one of the best (and most popular) of such collections, that by Nigel North (Linn Records, “Bach on the Lute”), consists entirely of these violin and cello works, albeit with the not-uncommon idea of such works finding their way into the repertoire of all sorts of related instruments.
Wenzel Ludwig Edler von Radolt’s collection of lute music entitled ”To my most true and confiding friend”, inclined both to the merry and to the sad humours, herewith in the company of other faithful vassals of our innermost sensibility’ was printed in 1701 in Vienna by J(oh)ann Michael Nestler and bears a dedication to the then‚ Roman King’ Josef I.
Radolt was of Austro-Italian aristocratic descent. He was born and died in Vienna. According to his own account, he spent his life ”so allured by the beguiling countenance of most pleasurable music, as to dedicate the course of my life to her“. The ‘Most true and confiding friend’ is the only work of Radolt that survives today.
The considerable variety of Johann Sebastian Bach’s output for the lute stands witness to different periods of his life and career. This collection comprises Bach’s complete lute works, amply demonstrating his interest in its expressive qualities. These works include the technically demanding Partita BWV 1006a, Bach’s own transcription of his Cello Suite No. 5, three pieces from the St John Passion and the St Matthew Passion where the lute appears in an ensemble setting, and the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, BWV 998, described by the renowned harpsichordist Wanda Landowska as ‘of incomparable beauty… unique amongst Bach’s works’.
This is now the third disc I have heard by the master lutenist Jakob Lindberg of the eloquent music of Sylvius Weiss. Weiss sweetly combines elegance and sentiment in a manner that is both intellectually and sensually satisfying. To my ears, Lindberg portrays the music perfectly, the sensitive Sarabande in the Sonata in C as well as the ensuing minuet, the tension of the opening of the Tombeau sur la Mort de M. Comte de Logy as well as the devastatingly sober theme. The Tombeau is an almost 12-minute piece at a tempo that crawls rather than walks, and yet it holds the attention.
Solo lute music flourished in large parts of Europe in the first half of the 16th century. In Italy, its most important early exponents were Francesco Spinacino, Joanambrosio Dalza, Vincenzo Capirola and Francesco da Milano. The leading lutenists in France were Albert de Rippe and Guillaume Morlaye. Germanys composers of unaccompanied lute music were Hans Judenkünig, Hans Newsiedler and Hans Gerle. The second half of the century brought new composers to the fore: in Italy, Vincenzo Galilei, Giovanni Antonio Terzi and Simone Molinaro; in Germany, Hans Newsiedlers son Melchior above all.
Lute music in Germany is closely associated with the name Silvius Leopold Weiss who influenced generations of lutenists with his outstanding compositions and was the cornerstone of German lute music. As his oeuvre has already enjoyed a wide distribution and substantial appreciation, this anthology only touches on a few individual works as reference points and places a greater focus on Weiss’s musical environment and legacy. A particular focus is given to Bayreuth which developed into a regional cultural centre for the lute thanks to the encouragement of the Margravine Wilhelmine, the sister of Frederick the Great.
This book (entablature) of lute pieces was published about 1530 by Francesco da Milano (1497-1543), known in his day along with Michelangelo as "Il Divino." The foremost lutenist of the Italian Renaissance, he served three popes and two cardinals. His works were published throughout Europe. "Clear phrasing captured by Beier with exquisite taste and without ostentation." -Goldberg