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Classical - Released June 5, 2020 | Glossa

There was a point where the lute sonatas of Sylvius Leopold Weiss were so obscure that Andrés Segovia would play them on guitar thinking he was doing them a favor through reviving them on the "superior" instrument. However, Weiss played a 13-course lute and Segovia's Spanish classical guitar naturally has only six strings; while Segovia considered an instrument like Weiss' as having "too many strings," it is nevertheless the right one to play Weiss' music on, owing to its tone and special resonance. One of the finest players of 13-course lute is Spaniard José Miguel Moreno, who has played in Jordi Savall's group Hesperion XX and leads another, La Romanesca. Glossa's Sylvius Leopold Weiss: Ars Melancholiae consists of two complete Weiss sonatas, two chaconnes, and a little clutch of single pieces placed at the album's center; recorded in 1993, this is one of the finest single-disc collections devoted to Weiss ever. Moreno plays beautifully, making judicious use of the acoustic space in which he is performing and the negative space around him as well. The playing is fluid, controlled, and conforms very comfortably to the contours of Weiss' constant spinning out of contrapuntal lines; significant, as a large part of Weiss' appeal is his similarity of approach to Johann Sebastian Bach in terms of texture. The one thing here that seems a little questionable is the choice of pace in the Sarabande from the Sonata in D major; Moreno takes it very slowly, and on its own it is a very beautiful and striking artistic statement, full of color and space. However, it just seems a little too slow for a sarabande; one wonders if anyone could get away with playing a sarabande at such a tempo in the eighteenth century. Nevertheless, other than that -- and admittedly the reservation stated is more a matter of curiosity than a criticism of the performance -- Glossa's Sylvius Leopold Weiss: Ars Melancholiae is perfect, and it's hard to imagine why anyone who appreciates good music wouldn't want it. © TiVo