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Lute Works 1 Import

5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Bach: Lute Works, Volume I
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Audio CD, Import, August 14, 2007
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Playing Bach's works for lute is always an interesting proposition. Invariably re-arranged from other instruments (one piece here was originally for cello, the other two for violin), they are notated in such a way that they would have been unplayable on a typical 18th-century instrument; therefore, Bach must have (or may have) presumed they would be transposed. At any rate, Paul O'Dette's new recording of some of the works (called "Volume I") is a ravishing document – elegant, lovely, both easy on the ear and food for thought. These are not pieces of 18th-century wallpaper. The Fugue in the Sonata in G minor, originally for violin, has to be played more slowly, but we gain clarity, with each note articulated, and it is played with golden tone. It's like the workings of a superb Swiss watch. The Dance movements that make up the Partita in (originally) E major are simply charming and actually seem like dances –- the Lute makes them seem more "popular." The recording is both warm and crystal-clear. Highly recommended. --Robert Levine
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Product Details

  • Performer: Paul O'Dette
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (August 14, 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
  • ASIN: B000Q6ZUS0
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,225 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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There is a bit of a mystery surrounding Bach's 'lute' music. It simply cannot be played on any standard 13-course lute available in 18th Century Germany. And since he notated his 'lute' pieces in staff keyboard notation and not lute tablature, his intentions are open to interpretation. What Bach may have had in mind requires informed guesswork. If we begin with Bach, himself, any theory must take into account his affinity for abstraction. He could (and did) compose music with no specific instrumentation in mind, The Art of Fugue a prime example. When a specific task or commission is not at stake, he seems to compose music in its absolute sense, leaving musicians to handle performance issues, such as instrumentation, voicings, transposition. 18th Century performers were often jack-of-all-trades, capable of meeting Bach's musical demands, and Bach had no reason to believe that this would change in the future. Another mystery is whether Bach played the lute, himself. Given his universal musical genius, it is likely he knew his way around the instrument without being a virtuoso. There is evidence he gave lute instruction to one of his students, Johann Ludwig Krebs. And he wrote significant lute parts into his St. Matthew and St. John Passions.

What seems to validate the absolute theory is the fact that Bach loved the lute enough to have designed a gut-strung harpsichord, called the Lautenwerk, with a sound that so resembled the lute, it 'deceived the ears of the best lutenists.' Described as the most beautiful of all sounding keyboards, after the organ, because of its ability to emulate the lute, the one complaint was that it was incapable of producing soft and loud sounds as the lute can do. 'It must always be played quickly and arpeggiated as we usually hear skilled lutenists do....
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These are not officially works for lute. The first item, BWV995, is an arrangement of the C-minor Cello Suite, BWV 1011; the second item, BWV 1006a, is the Partita for solo violin BWV 1006; and the final Sonata was also written for solo violin. I have a few problems with the solo violin works, especially on a modern instrument on which it isn't easy to play three-note chords without using too much force on the bow. They fare a lot better on a baroque violin (as long as the violinist has excellent intonation) but for me the music falls more sweetly on the ear in these lute versions and I doubt any lutenist could play them better than Paul O'Dette. The music positively dances under his nimble fingers and Volume 1 of his Bach works makes me long to own the rest of the set.
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Paul O'Dette + Bach = Finally! I can only wish for more...When will he record the Bach Chaconne? I do hope he does because this album of Bach solo works arranged for Lute is absolutely spectacular. I love the Harmoni Mundi sound, too!
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Yep, another recording by the master of all living lutenists, to my way of thinking. [ and lots of others think the same way.]
He looks like a lumberjack in his pictures and yet his playing is immaculate and exquisite. You just never know what is inside a person!
He has for a long time been on the faculty at Eastman. Lucky us in America! We have three or four of these top players in our country and teaching at institutions of higher learning; the fourth is or was, in Switzerland.
n morse
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By Cinquini on December 6, 2012
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Un enregistrement magnifique rélisé par ce grand artiste de la musique ancienne. Et tout ça au service d'un des plus grand compositeurs de la renaissance élisabéthaine.
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