Weiss: Lute Works, Vols. 1 & 2

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COMPOSERS: Weiss
LABELS: Sony Vivarte
WORKS: Lute Works, Vols. 1 & 2
PERFORMER: Lutz Kirchhof (Baroque lute and theorbo lute)
CATALOGUE NO: S2K 48391 DDD
Sylvius Leopold Weiss (1686-1750) was the foremost lutenist of his day, known throughout the courts of Europe for his skill as an improviser. He is credited with having written more for the lute than anyone else, but by the time of his death in 1750 the instrument was already falling out of favour.

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Today, with the odd exception such as his Tombeau sur la mort de M Comte de Logy, most of Weiss’s music has been consigned to history, so this fine set from the German lutenist Lutz Kirchhof is welcome for reviving a generous selection of his suites, preludes and other pieces with such style.

Kirchhof provides tonal variety by using modern copies of two early 18th-century instruments: a Baroque lute and a theorbo lute, the latter believed to have been invented by Weiss himself. The notation was intended to leave the way open for considerable artistic licence on the part of the performer, and Kirchhof’s spontaneous and virtuosic playing does full justice to the music’s wide range of expressive possibilities. The highlight is the Praeludium Courante, Fuga and Presto, in which the influence of Weiss’s friend Bach and one-time colleague Domenico Scarlatti can be detected.

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Well recorded, and with excellent notes, this is a highly enjoyable set – and by no means just for confirmed lovers of the lute. David Michaels