Monday, 30 July 2018

Bach - Harpsichord Concertos Transcribed for Mandolin - Ferella

Rating: 3/5

Not very successful transcriptions

Bach’s works often lend themselves very well to transcription but I don’t think that these transcriptions are very successful. There’s nothing wrong with them in principle and the playing throughout is very good, but the overall effect just isn’t very satisfying. For me, the mandolin can’t capture either the resonance or harmonic capabilities of the harpsichord and as a result the effect is somewhat diminished and a little empty.

Avi Avital’s disc of Bach on the mandolin avoids this to an extent by including pieces originally for violin or flute, but even in his brilliant hands the mandolin’s limitations show rather, and they are more obvious here. I’m sorry to be unenthusiastic about a disc of good performances, but this one isn’t really for me.

Friday, 20 July 2018

da Milano - A Decoration of Silence - North

Rating: 5/5

An excellent disc

This is yet another excellent disc from the great Nigel North.  It is the second in a projected series of three discs of da Milano, nicknamed "Il Divino" with some justification.

The music is lovely; a wide selection of pieces with a variety of feel and atmosphere and all full of melodic and harmonic invention.  North plays it beautifully, of course.  He is one of the world's finest lutenists and is completely at home here; I already have much-loved discs of da Milano by both Paul O'Dette and Hopkinson Smith, and this is at least their equal.  North's style and tone is perhaps a little more mellow, which for me suits this music very well.

The recorded sound is excellent and this is a very fine disc all round.  Warmly recommended.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Jakob Lindberg - Nocturnal

Rating: 5/5

An outstanding disc

Nocturnal is yet another first-rate disc from Jakob Lindberg.  He has, of course, been one of the world's greatest lutenists for many years and this is well up to his usual phenomenal standard.

Nocturnal is a collection of English lute pieces by the greats of the Elizabethan era, plus a transcription of Britten's Nocturnal After John Dowland.  Many familiar composers are featured; Dowland himself, of course, Holborne, Bacheler and others, and I was very pleased to be introduced to the music of Edward Collard.  All of it is excellent and quite beautifully played.  Lindberg has a deep understanding of this repertoire and an exquisite touch.  His instruments sound lovely and are, as always, superbly recorded by BIS.

This is, in short, an outstanding disc of wonderful music played by a true master.  Very warmly recommended.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Weiss - Suites for Lute - Junghanel

Rating: 5/5

An excellent disc

This is an excellent disc of Weiss's lute music.  There are some superb recordings of Weiss available – notably for me by Jakob Lindberg and Robert Barto – but this stands with them, I think.

Weiss, held to be the foremost lutenist of his time, was an almost exact contemporary of Bach and so his time was the last flowering of Baroque lute music. He left a huge and very distinguished legacy of compositions, which really show the true beauty and versatility of the lute. All of the music is full of melodic invention and Weiss's mastery of his instrument is clear from the richness of the harmonic structures.  Konrad Junghänel brings all of this out beautifully; he is a fine lutenist and is absolutely at home in this repertoire, so Weiss's music blossoms in his hands.  His lute sounds simply lovely and is beautifully recorded by Glossa.

You simply can't go wrong woth this disc, in my view.  It's lovely music, superbly played and recorded, and very warmly recommended.