I love music.

I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

Barto performing Weiss

Weiss lute It wasn't too long ago that an acquaintance of mine mentioned via Twitter that they had chosen the perfect music to go to sleep by, the sonatas for lute by Silvius Leopold Weiss. I knew in the recesses of my brain that Bach's lute works might have been written for this gentleman, if not for another idea--that perhaps Bach's Lautenwerk was actually for the lute-harpsichord, and not a lute at all. No matter, because Weiss was a lutenist and a composer. My friend mentioned too the performers name, one Robert Barto, and it seems he's recorded quite a bit of Weiss's work on Naxos. I purchased digital versions of volumes 6, 8-10. I thought I'd start there. I have not purchased many releases on Naxos, but found the recording quality to be good. Each recording measures a right mixture of "up and close" miking with an acoustic that sings just enough. It's obvious, however, that each recording is not set-up identically. The suites are multi-movement works based on dance styles centered around a common key. Plenty of courantes, gigues, and sarabandes to go around. Many of the tracks have a "melody" line, around which we get accompaniment, in some cases I could picture a solo sonata with basso continuo, in others, I hear, say, a flute solo piece, with extra notes around to support harmony. What we're left with is idiomatic writing for the baroque lute; Weiss's music sounds more natural on this instrument, then, say Bach's music does. There's no one sonata that stands out for me; upon listening, there will be on occasion where my ears make my mind perk up just a bit; to remark that I like a particular section of one of the dances. It's usually a harmonic progression I fancy, more than anything else. There's no deep and profound music to be found in the recordings I purchased. Probably the one track that stands out the most is the 28th sonata, La Fameaux Corsaire, and the last movement, Presto. The music reeks of flavor; Barto, my guess, plays all the right notes. I might wish for a little more dynamic contrast through his playing, not to mention more variety between the fast and slow movements. 4 volumes will suffice for now; the Naxos collection is a great start towards our documentation of Weiss's music for lute. I don't blame my colleague for using it to rest by; the lute's sound world can be a very relaxing one. Your decision on this series will depend on your connoisseurship of the baroque's era obscure composers and possibly, too, the sound world of the lute from the late baroque.

London/Paris 2012

Stravaganze Napoleatane