Weiss Sonatas

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ALBUM TITLE: Weiss Sonatas
WORKS: Sonatas in D, A & G
PERFORMER: Nigel North (lute)


Nigel North took his lead from a Dresden Court poet’s estimation of Sylvius Leopold Weiss when he titled the first disc in this series,The Heart Trembles with Pleasure. On listening to volume two of what is to be a four-part exploration of Bach’s contemporary, the heart is trembling still.

This disc’s title, Cantabile, highlights an Italianate songfulness that permeates Weiss’s output and which he experienced at first hand from Corelli and Domenico and Alessandro Scarlatti when he was in Rome. North’s first volume comprised works written before Weiss’s Dresden appointment in 1718; on this volume, he addresses music composed during the first couple of years in that city, and written (or revised) for the opulent sound of the new-fangled 13-course lute.

Best-known, perhaps, is the D major Sonata, whose concluding Passacaille has long been a party piece for guitarists. It’s instructive to hear it on this disc as the climax of a seven-movement sequence. North speaks Weiss’s cosmopolitan language with finely attuned fluency, consummate flair and seductive persuasiveness. His ravishing tone, however, might disturb those who prefer a lighter sound. 


Paul Riley