Weiss: Lute Sonatas, Vol. 11

Review by: David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

Silvius Leopold Weiss (1687-1750) wrote approximately 83 billion lute sonatas, and this release constitutes Volume 11 in Naxos’ ongoing complete series. The tray card describes them as “prodigiously attractive works of great emotional power.” Attractive they certainly are, very much so, but “great emotional power”?–not so much. Let’s face it: there’s only so much that you can do with an overture or prelude and a standard suite of baroque dances–unless you’re Bach, of course, and Weiss may have been an exact contemporary but he was no Bach.

That said, there is a wide range of size and shape to these three sonatas. No. 39, the “Partita Grande”, is indeed substantial, lasting nearly half an hour and containing some extensively developed movements (including the virtuosic concluding Presto). The other two works, while ostensibly lighter in tone, pack a lot of variety into their respective groupings of seven movements apiece. Certainly Robert Barto plays beautifully, with crystal clear articulation and sweet timbre on a lovely-sounding baroque instrument.

I wouldn’t listen to all 20 tracks at a sitting, but this well recorded disc does make great background to a Sunday drive (I tried it), and will keep you entertained whenever your attention becomes engaged. Really, there’s no need to make greater claims for this music than it deserves: it’s good stuff, performed with great insight and sympathy. Surely that’s enough.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None

SILVIUS LEOPOLD WEISS - Lute Sonatas Nos. 30, 39 "Partita Grande", & 96

  • Robert Barto (lute)

Share This Review: