Robert Barto / Karl-Ernst Schröder

Silvius Leopold Weiss: The Dresden Manuscript (Music for Two Lutes)

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Silvius Leopold Weiss was one of the finest lutenists in Germany in the early 18th century, and because of his tours, his music was of considerable interest to the public. Yet Weiss was extremely proprietary about his compositions, publishing only one piece and keeping the rest in manuscript to limit its availability. As a result, a portion of his work has disappeared, though the bulk of his surviving output is kept in the London Manuscript in the British Library, and in the Dresden Manuscript in the Saxon State Library, Dresden. The four sonatas on this recording by Robert Barto and Karl-Ernst Schröder were drawn from the Dresden collection, though the manuscript contained only one lute part; from the internal structure and the consistency of certain patterns that suggested canonic imitation and sequences, Schröder was able to reconstruct the second lute part, which was obviously required as an equal partner. These sonatas are cast in four movements, in the manner of the sonata da chiesa, rather than as suites of several dances, though the music is quite lively and bears some characteristics of the allemande, courante, sarabande, gavotte, and minuet, but without specific designation. The performances are elegant and spirited, and judged on the balanced exchanges between the two musicians, Schröder's reconstructions may be judged a success because they satisfy both in technical and expressive ways, and sound idiomatic, stylistically appropriate, and utterly convincing.

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