Monday, 9 October 2017

The Baroque Lute In Vienna - Hofstötter

Rating: 4/5

Good but not great

I think this is a decent disc of Baroque lute music, but not a great one.  Bernhard Hofstötter is a fine lutenist and it is good to have such a variety of music available; I do have my reservations, though.

The theme of this programme, pretty obviously, is lute compositions with a link to Vienna.  That gives a pretty wide choice and we get some better known composers like Gluck and Biber along with more obscure stuff, including an anonymous Suite – which, by the way, I like very much.  The music is generally good, although it doesn't really bear comparison with Bach or Weiss, say.  Nonetheless, it's enjoyable and quite rewarding music and the recorded sound is good.

For me, Hofstötter's style doesn't always fit this Baroque music.  He is pretty rhythmically free a good deal of the time, which gives a kind of Romantic expressiveness which I don't think fits this music well.  Some rubato and thoughfulness of phrasing is essential, of course, but it also needs a basic rhythmic solidity to allow the patterns and textures to show fully, and I found that lacking in some places here.

Overall, this is an enjoyable recording which does a good job in bringing some neglected music to our attention.  Despite my reservations, I can give this a recommendation, if a slightly qualified one.

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