Monday, 16 May 2016

Lauffensteiner & Weichenberger - Austria 1676 - Yisrael

Rating: 4/5

Enjoyable, if not great, lute music

This is an enjoyable disc of Austrian Baroque lute music by Wolff Jacob Lauffensteiner and Johann Georg Weichenberger, two composers born in 1676.  This is the first I have heard of either composer and their music is very enjoyable, although perhaps not quite in the first rank of lute music of the period.  They are rough contemporaries of Weiss, a true German master of lute composition and although their style is similar, for me neither has quite the depth and invention of Weiss.

The pieces here are all Partitas with movements based upon different dance rhythms and Miguel Yisrael plays them very well.  He has a very good technique, bringing out the different characters of the movements and giving them each a distinct feel.  The spirit of Hopkinson Smith, Yisrael's teacher, is discernible here in the smooth phrasing and beautiful tone he produces and I think he is a very fine lutenist.

The quality of the music means that I don't find this disc as satisfying as the excellent recordings of Weiss by both Jakob Lindberg and Robert Barto which are in a similar style, and if you're just looking for a disc of first-rate baroque lute music I'd recommend one of them first.  However, it's good to have some music by these two composers available and this is certainly recommendable as a well-played programme of very pleasant music.

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