Weiss Lute Sonatas; Prelude and fugue

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Silvius Leopold Weiss
LABELS: Claves
ALBUM TITLE: Weiss
WORKS: Lute Sonatas in D & G minor; Prelude & Fuque in C
PERFORMER: Yasunori Imamura (Baroque lute)
CATALOGUE NO: 502809

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Volume Two in Yasunori Imamura’s Weiss series has been a long time coming – Vol. 1 appeared in 2006 – but it has been worth the wait. Indeed any chance to engage with Weiss’s urbane, elegantly polished embodiment of the era’s goûts réunis (tastes reunited), cross-fertilising Italian, French and German styles, is a cause for celebration.

These two Sonatas sample Weiss at both ends of his Dresden career: the G minor probably dates from the 1740s, while the opening D major Sonata belongs to a manuscript compiled around 1719, two years after Weiss’s appointment to the musically glittering Dresden Court. These are separated on disc by an appealing Prelude and Fugue found in the same 1719 manuscript. Imamura unfolds the D major’s Prelude with a firm sense of its inwardness and piquant harmonic colouring, but daringly improvises (sometimes a touch formulaically) a complete prelude for the G minor Sonata. Here, too, he swaps a big-boned Sarabande for the prescribed Polonaise.

Tempos are judicious, gestures finely calibrated, and the D major Sonata includes a pert Courante, a dapper Angloise and a Passagaille despatched with measured nobility. Technically, Imamura might not quite have the ‘finish’ of a Nigel North, but this rewarding disc is finely attuned to Weiss’s ever-approachable genius.

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Paul Riley