JS Bach: Music for Lute
Thomas Dunford (Alpha Classics)
Cello Suite No. 1 in G (arr. for lute); Lute Suite in G minor; Violin Partita No. 2 in D minor
Thomas Dunford (archlute)
Alpha Classics ALPHA 361 56:16 mins
Much in the same way as the bass viol enjoyed an Indian Summer in France, the lute prospered in Germany during the early to mid 18th century, with an especially rich repertory provided by Silvio Leopold Weiss, and by Bach. Bach’s lute music is made up of pieces which are both original compositions for the instrument and transcriptions he made of works originally written for other solo string instruments. This accomplished recital by Thomas Dunford features Bach’s arrangement of his Suite in C minor for unaccompanied cello, BWV 1011 as well as arrangements by Dunford himself of the G major Cello Suite, BWV 1007 and the celebrated ‘Chaconne’ of the Partita in D minor for unaccompanied violin, BWV 1004.
While the music of Bach’s lute version of the C minor Cello Suite remains close to its source, there are interesting divergences as, for instance, in the fugal section of the opening Prelude where there is greater contrapuntal development. Dunford conveys the improvisatory character of its opening section with intimacy and charm, while the fugue is argued clearly and fluently. In both suites he communicates with assurance the sequence of dances which follow the preludes though, partly no doubt through force of habit, I found myself every now and again yearning for the noble and more sustained gestures afforded by bowed strings. Whatever the instrument, the towering edifice of the D minor ‘Chaconne’ from BWV 1004 commands our attention throughout. Dunford’s arrangement allows us to revel in its infinite subtleties throughout its glorious 257 bars. He paces the music eloquently, accommodating moments of reflection with others of exuberance.