A Lute by Sixtus Rauwolf

Jakob Lindberg
Music by Dufault, Kellner, Mouton, “Mr Pachelbel”, Reusner, Weiss

Jakob Lindberg’s first CD featuring the lute made c. 1590 by Sixtus Rauwolf, is an anthology of music by French and German composers. It begins with a sombre Padoana by Esias Reusner (1636-79), which lies low on the instrument and is reminiscent of English lute pavans such as those by Daniel Bacheler. There follow two suites by two of the most important French lutenist composers in the 17th century, François Dufault (before 1604-c.1672) and Charles Mouton (1626-after 1699). The clarity of the Rauwolf lute is heard to good effect in Mouton’s jolly Canaries ‘Le Mouton’, where a high treble exchanges musical ideas with a lower voice, supported by occasional notes in the bass, giving the impression that three instruments are being played.

Towards the end of the 17th century, lute music waned in France, but it continued to wax in Germany. Lindberg plays a suite by David Kellner (c.1670-1748), who for much of his life worked as an organist in Stockholm. The suite begins with Campanella (presto assai), presumably an imitation of bells, but nothing like the change-ringing of Fabian Stedman and others which would have been heard in England by that time. The alternation of thumb and a finger creates a precise sound verging on the mechanical. Gone are the subtle suggestions of melody by earlier French composers. The old style brisé where melodies and bass lines were broken imaginatively into a succession of single notes, with Kellner they become more a predictable succession of broken chords, and if there is a slow-moving melody, each note is followed by an off-beat on a higher string creating a rather irritating drone-like effect. His Sarabande, on the other hand, has a charming melody, which is divided effectively into single notes for the double repeat. Interestingly, apart from cadential hemiolas, there are no notes stressed on the second beat of the bar, a feature which characterised earlier sarabandes; Kellner’s is more like a slow waltz. Next comes a suite by ‘Mr Pachelbel’, possibly Johann Pachelbel (c.1653-1706), best known today for having written a Canon. According to Tim Crawford’s liner notes, Pachelbel’s Allemande ‘L’Amant mal content’ is based on ‘L’Amant malheureux’ by the French lutenist Jacques de Gallot (d. c.1690). The CD ends with a fine suite in A major by Silvius Leopold Weiss (1687-1750), eight movements in all, including a Gigue played with tasteful panache, and a long Ciacona, with contrasting variations.

Stewart McCoy

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