Bach: Lute Suite in G minor, BWV 995; Lute Suite in E minor, BWV 996; Lute Suite in C minor, BWV 997; Lute Suite in E, BWV 1006a; Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, BWV 998

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Lute Suite in G minor, BWV 995; Lute Suite in E minor, BWV 996; Lute Suite in C minor, BWV 997; Lute Suite in E, BWV 1006a; Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, BWV 998
PERFORMER: Jakob Lindberg (lute)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-587/8 DDD
Bach himself almost certainly didn’t play the lute. Yet among his music are six original lute works, including two full suites and an authentic transcription of the E major violin Partita. He even invented a gut-string lute-harpsichord to indulge himself in the sound of this most delicate and appealing instrument.

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Lindberg plays all seven works. They are the most technically demanding lute pieces of their age, yet he surmounts their inherent difficulties splendidly. He may lack the ultimate sparkle invited, for example, by the Prelude of the violin Partita, but his playing is always thoughtful. Apart from one strange change of pace in a repeat (owing to editing?), technical demands never interrupt the pulse. He’s rhythmically flexible, though: lilting unequal notes lift the steps of the French dances and phrases are beautifully shaped.

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The sound quality is exceptional. At one level, tricks of retuning influence the sonority of the instrument itself. The recording is close enough to retain the transient clicks and scrapes of fingers on strings and, quite unobtrusively, Lindberg’s breathing. But some responsibility is left to us with an instruction to keep the volume down: ‘… otherwise all the nuances disappear and the resulting timbre is most incorrect.’ George Pratt