William Carter

Bach Reimagines Bach

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Transcribing compositions was a common practice in the Baroque era, and Johann Sebastian Bach frequently recycled his own music, perhaps most famously in his versions for lute. This 2017 Linn release by lutenist William Carter offers meticulous performances of the Sonata in G minor, BWV 1001, and the Suite in E major, BWV 1006a, both adapted from the original versions for unaccompanied violin, and the Suite in G minor, BWV 995, arranged from the Suite No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011, for unaccompanied cello. The technical difficulties encountered in these transcriptions are often cited as proof that Bach didn't know how to play the lute, despite owning a particularly valuable lute and two lute-harpsichords. Yet this supposed inability to play is secondary to Bach's avid interest in the instrument and his awareness of developments in lute music, particularly in the works of his contemporary and friend, Silvius Leopold Weiss. Carter takes Bach's music at face value, without modifying it for ease of performance, and considers these arrangements to be "reimaginings," regarding them as discrete pieces reworked for the lute, particularly in the case of the Sarabande in BWV 995, which he describes as, "the most perfect piece of lute music in existence." Recordings of Bach's lute music on guitar have long been available, though Carter joins an increasing number of lutenists, such as Paul O'Dette and Nigel North, who have also recorded the pieces, and sets high expectations for a continuation of his exceptional work on a second volume.

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