The galant lute

Vinícius Perez
62:14
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Haydn: Sonata in C, Hob XVI:10
Kohaut: Sonata in D
Mozart: Divertimento KV 439b/II
Scheidler: Thème de Mozart varié

In this very enjoyable CD, Vinícius Perez explores music which is not usually heard on the lute. He begins with his own arrangement of Joseph Haydn’s Sonata in C (Divertimento Hob XVI:10), composed before 1767. The score for piano may be found on the IMSLP site. This is distinctly more classical in style than the Galant of the CD’s title; it has well-balanced phrases and a clear structure. Perez transposes some of the bass notes down an octave to exploit the low diapasons of his 13-course lute, and he adds ornaments where appropriate. In the first movement (Moderato) he plays his own ear-catching cadenza before the initial melody returns, and puts in attractive little flourishes and fast descending scales to enhance the final statement of the theme. A much decorated Menuetto in C major with triplets (effectively 9/8) contrasts with the Trio in C minor without triplets. His embellishment of the Menuetto on its return, is stylish and pleasing. The Finale is marked presto, and Perez bustles along at an exciting speed, stopping for an occasional dramatic pause. A passage of slurred quavers modulating through various keys contrasts with the slick ornamental triplets of the last lap. Perez produces a good sound, dampening notes where necessary to stop excessive resonance, particularly in the bass. This allows him to produce clear, lyrical lines without the underlying muddiness one sometimes hears with baroque lutenists, when diapasons are allowed to ring on too long and jar against each other.

Lesser known today is Karl Kohaut (1726-84), a diplomat, violinist, lutenist and quite prolific composer who lived in Vienna. Perez plays Kohaut’s only surviving Sonata for solo lute. The Adagio is a beautiful piece of music, expressively performed with well-shaped melodic lines, and a spine-tingling passage of high notes towards the end. It is followed by a brisk, yet not rushed Allegro with broken chords and surprising appoggiaturas a semitone below the main note. The Sonata ends with a highly ornamented Menuetto and Trio, where Perez skilfully takes us through a variety of contrasting moods. It is quite delightful.

One does not normally associate Mozart with the lute, but according to the liner notes, a cadenza survives which he wrote for the lute. Certainly Perez’ arrangement of Mozart’s Divertimenti for three basset horns (KV 439b) works extremely well on the lute, and captures the delicacy and finesse one associates with the great composer. I enjoyed the Menuetto and Trio (Track 8), since it was re-written by one of Mozart’s contemporaries in Die Wiener Sonatinen, which I played as a child on the piano.

The CD ends with Christian Gottlieb Scheidler’s Variations on Mozart’s Champagne Aria from Don Giovanni. The second half of the theme is the same as the well-known folk tune “The Keel Row”, a simple tune over just tonic and dominant, but the extravagant variations are far from simple.

Stewart McCoy