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Classical - Released March 28, 2008 | Challenge Classics

All right, just who the heck was Wenzel Ludwig Edler von Radolt? He was a lutenist from Vienna, born in 1667 to a noble family; whether Radolt was a full-time professional lutenist, who rescinded his right to property, or amateur gentry is unclear, though he did state that he was "so allured by [...] music as to dedicate my whole life to her." He is known by a single publication, containing 12 "concertos" for lute, strings, and continuo, appearing at Vienna in 1701, Der Aller Treüeste Freindin (To All My Trusted Friends). This is not some obscure print fished out from the depths of a repository of musical arcana, but was a reasonably well-known publication still in print more than 20 years after Radolt died in 1716. This excellent Challenge Classics recording, featuring lutenist Hubert Hoffman with the Ars Antiqua Austria under Gunar Letzbor, is the first of anything from this print, and while it doesn't include all of the work, it provides a more than ample sampling of Radolt's effort to provide a measurable account of its thrust. These works are "concertos" in name only; they do not employ a consistent strategy of movements and are mainly suites of various dance movements, and in a few instances Ars Antiqua Austria singles out certain pieces as individual items. Radolt's work is based in folk music and most of it is disarmingly simple, though the lute writing is challenging. These pieces are mostly so direct and clear that they have an almost Anglican flavor, but Radolt does occasionally employ forms that are more complex, such as Passacaglia, and engages in contrapuntal writing that is foreign to the usual kinds of early eighteenth century prints devoted to amateur use; the Concerto in F major is particularly ambitious in this respect. The playing is both solid and sensitive, and while a concerto usually indicates a soloist versus ensemble connotation, the overall feeling here is one of ensemble unanimity; the violin part is as dominant as the lute in many sections. While Radolt may not have been the unequivocal genius his slightly later contemporary Antonio Vivaldi might have been, his lute concertos are highly musical, unusual, and still contain a recognizable measure of the elegance, fluff, and vivacity associated with great Viennese music of any historical period. © TiVo