A Lute by Sixtus Rauwolf: French and German Baroque Music - Jakob Lindberg
Classical - Instrumental
Esaias Reusner: Padoana
François Dufault: Prelude, Allemande, Courante 'La Superbe', Courante, Sarabande, Gigue
Charles Mouton: Prelude 'La promenade', Allemande 'Le dialogue des graces?...', Canaries 'Le Mouton', Courante 'La Changeante', Gaillarde 'La Bizarre', Sarabande 'La Malassis', Menuet 'La Ganbade'
David Kellner: Campanella (presto assai), Courante, Sarabanda, Aria (largo), Giga, Gavotte 'Mr Pachelbel'
(poss. Johann Pachelbel]: Allemande 'L'Amant mal content', Courante 'L'Amant soulage', Sarabande 'L'Amant soupirant', Gigue 'Raillerie des amans'
Silvius Leopold Weiss: Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Bourrée, Sarabande, Menuet, Gigue, Ciacona
Jakob Lindberg (lute by Sixtus Rauwolf, c. 1590)
The lute by Sixtus Rauwolf heard on this recording was probably built in the last decade of the sixteenth century. Some hundred years later, in 1715, it was converted to suit the musical tastes and demands of the baroque period. For this disc, Jakob Lindberg has chosen works that could have formed part of the repertory of the presumably German owner of the instrument at around the time of its final conversion.
For German lutenists from about the middle of the seventeenth century, it was France that provided the aesthetic and musical model, and towards the end of the century, when the lute rather suddenly and inexplicably dropped out of fashion in Paris certain French luthistes travelled abroad and met with great success in German-speaking lands. With them, they took their music and special traditions of lute-playing, evidence of which can be seen in the music of several of the German composers included here.
The disc closes with a suite of pieces by Silvius Leopold Weiss, the most famous lutenist of the baroque era. Weiss, Lindberg and the Rauwolf lute first crossed paths in 2006 on a highly acclaimed all-Weiss disc (BIS 1524): 'Too good to be true' was the verdict in International Record Review while the reviewer in Goldberg Magazine wrote 'As an evocation of the lute's magical qualities, this deserves to achieve cult status.'
Review by John Miller - October 28, 2017
Jakob Lindberg needs no introduction; he is one of the greatest lutenists of our age, not just for his playing but also his research interests in lute repertoire, as well as studying the evolution of the instrument.
As for instruments, he plays on a unique lute by Sixtus Rauwolf, Augsburg, from c.1590; you can see coloured photographs of it on the front and back of the SACD. It has the title of probably being the oldest lute in playing condition, verified by dendrochronology (tree-rings) of its soundboard. Indeed, the title of the disc is "A Lute by Sixtus Rauwolf", implying that knowing something of the history of the instrument greatly improves the listener's experience. For this purpose, BIS present a fine five page booklet essay by Prof Tim Crawford, Goldsmiths, University of London, to help you listen and understand more.
Crawford worked for 15 years as a professional musician. During that time he played as a lutenist with most of the leading conductors and ensembles active in baroque music, and made a number of recordings during the 1980s. In 1989 he received a three-year Leverhulme Fellowship to work on the lute music of Silvius Leopold Weiss. In his fascinating essay here, Crawford outlines some of the historical technical changes of the Rauwolf lute and the effects of these on contempory Baroque music. Comparisons are made with the German and French lute music presented: Esaias Reusner (1636-79), Dufault François (before 1604-c.1672), Charles Mouton (1626-after-1699), David Kellner (c.1670-1748), 'Mr Pachelbel' (c.1653-1706), Silvious Leopold Weiss (1687-1750). 'Mr Pachelbel' is not a comedy but possibly Johann Pachelbel, one of the great composer/players of the Baroque.
Lindberg's command of the instrument is remarkable; polyphonic melodies married to counter-melodies emerge naturally, as if played with several hands. As well as exploiting the lute's rich lyric qualities, he displays crisp and clear articulation in the characteristic lutenist's "divisions", where ornamental speeding up of tunes becomes a torrent of notes, challenging the player's skill in producing clear articulation. Inward communing fantasias and preludes or outgoing lilting dances with simple tunes are communicated with equal grace and satisfying amusement. Lindberg also brings from each piece a beautiful and subtle range of tonal colour from its different registers. The overall sound comes mostly from the gut or wire-wound gut strings.
Recording took place at Länna Church in Norrtälje, part of the archdiocese of Uppsala. It was built in the 12th century and is relatively small, but frequently used by BIS. The sound engineer is Matthias Spitzbarth, working with 24-bit/96kHz. Lutes are very demanding instruments to record. They have a narrow dynamic range, which demands at least one close microphone, and a fair amount of excess finger noise which needs to be tamed by fairly distant mic positioning. Omnidirectional microphones give an excellent result. With these it is also possible to vary the amount of high frequency simply by angling the microphones out or up. The overall arrangement is 'balance', which is very good on this SACD, where the Lute is quite close but not too wide on the front speakers, and the result is intensely personal, polished and refined. Slight intakes of breath at the beginning of a piece and very soft creaks on the stool make the record a more realistic one, as does 24-bit/96kHz and 5.0 speaker arrangement. The SACD lasts for 81'50", very good value.
Without a doubt, this music is refined entertainment, as if it was played in a well-to do Baroque room. Jakob Lindberg has an amazing repertoire for the various dances of the Suits. For example Reusner's 'Padoana'; a gentle, thoughtful soliloquy, Dufault's Courant 'La Superbe', bright and twisted with rhythms like jazz, the smiling Kellner's rustic flow of his Courante, and Campella (presto assai) with speedy down-scales in a fiery rush. Try and follow these suites in scores and you will find out that lute and guitar players prefer to use Tablature, which goes back beyond C1500. It is a form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches. There are some works, however, which have been converted to the modern scores.
So, if you haven't tried Baroque lute music before, I strongly suggest you try Jakob Lindberg playing it. Certainly, listening with the Lute being contemplative, poignant, intimate, loving dancing, restful and thoughtful makes me very happy. Try it! And don't forget to read Tim Crawford's helpful booklet; it is in English, French and German.
Copyright © 2017 John Miller and HRAudio.net