Friday, 26 June 2015

Baron - The Lute at the Court of Frederick the Great - Polato

Rating: 3/5

Pleasant but not brilliant

This is an interesting disc and it is good to have Baron's music available, but I do have some reservations about it.

Baron was a younger contemporary of Bach and Weiss who was a composer and lutenist at the court of Frederick the Great of Prussia in the mid 17th Century.  I hadn't come across his work before this disc and as a lover of the lute was very keen to find out more.

Baron was plainly a good composer but not a great one.  The music here is pleasant and features the lute in combination with other instruments as well as in two solo sonatas.  It's all perfectly listenable stuff but, despite Baron's reputation at court as an expressive, emotional composer and player, I found it just a bit bland.  The sonatas certainly don’t have the depth and variety of those of his contemporaries Bach and Weiss, although they are an enjoyable listen.  The same can be said of much of the disc – nice, but rather unmemorable 

Polato's playing is good but sounds a little strained at times as though the music were taxing his technique, so it isn't always as relaxed and natural-sounding as you'd hope.  I don't think the recording helps, either.  Certainly on my download, the lute sounds rather tinny and distant and as though it were at the bottom of a well.  It's a real disappointment when compared with, say, the excellent job Naxos do with Robert Barto's series of Weiss sonatas or Linn's superb recordings of Jakob Lindberg. 

I do go back to this disc from time to time, but it's not among my favourites.  If you're keen on the lute you may well find this interesting, as I do, but for really fine recordings of great music of this period I'd recommend Weiss played by Barto or Lindberg, Bach played by North or O'Dette and several others before this.

No comments:

Post a Comment