There is no reason not to play Bach's solo lute suites on a guitar. Even beyond the usual Baroque propensity for transcribing and arranging works freely, the lute suites were not composed as a set and are of murky origins; it's not even known whether they were originally for the lute at all. Guitar heavyweights including John Williams have played these pieces, but Franz Halász here delivers beautiful, highly expressive readings that can stand with any other out there. Halász takes each movement as its own expressive whole. He applies a good deal of tempo rubato, but he always establishes a basic tempo firmly, and sometimes he dispenses with the rubato for the most part. Sample the liquid Prelude of the Suite for lute in E minor, BWV 996, which harks back to the prelude's improvisatory origins. On the other hand, the Sarabande from the late Suite (or Partita) in C minor, BWV 997, is a somber, passionate piece, with the tempo varied expressively but held in perfect control by Halász. He adds substantial ornamentation on repeats, but it neither draws attention to itself nor lets you hear the effort on the part of the performer. These are performances that respect both Bach's grace and his depth, and they are augmented by superior sound engineering from BIS, accomplished at the Großer Saal of the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich. A standout Bach recording.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Lute Suite in G Minor, BWV 995|
|Lute Suite (Partita) in C Minor, BWV 997|
|Suite (Partita) in E Major, BWV 1006|
|Lute Suite in E Minor, BWV 996|