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Lute Works BWV 995-1000, BWV 1006a
Played by Lutz Kirchhof (Lute)

 

S-1

J.S. Bach: The Works for Lute in original keys & tuning

 

Suite for lute in G minor, BWV 995 [21:14]
Suite for lute in E minor, BWV 996 [16:24]
Partita for lute in C minor, BWV 997 [22:38]
Prelude, Fugue & Allegro for lute in E flat major, BWV 998 [12:29]
Prelude for lute in C minor, BWV 999 [1:52]
Fugue for lute in G minor, BWV 1000 [5:50]
Suite for lute in E major, BWV 1006a [20:38]

Lutz Kirchhof (Lute [BWV 996, 1006a], Theorbo [rest])

Sony Classical S2K-45858

Sep 1987

2-CD / TT: 111:22

Recorded at Liederkranzhalle, Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Producer/Recording Supervision: Wolf Erichson; Recording Engineer/Editing: Stephen Schellmann.
Discussions: Lute Works - played by Lutz Kirchhof (Lute)
Buy this album at:  
2-CD (1990): Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de
2-CD (1991): Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de
CD Vol. 1 (2004): Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de


Kirchhof’s Lute

Thomas Radleff wrote (March 2, 2002):
Pierce Drew wrote [BWV 998 Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E flat Major]:
< Could you say a bit more about the Kirchoff recording? I saw it in the store the other day for $22 and was interested in purchasing it, but was unable to find any reviews (I noticed that it was released at the end of the 1980's). I have Junghaenel and Hopkinson Smith's complete recordings, but always have more room for lute recordings.
P.S. -- I recently picked up the first four volumes of Naxos' series of Weiss lute sonatas (Robert Barto). I have only listened to Vol. 1 so far, and find the playing and recorded sound to be excellent. >
- sorry you had to wait; over a hundred Bach mails in two days ! Lutz Kirchhof's recording of Bach´s lute works claims to present them in the original keys. Two of the suites, E major & e minor are played on a theorbo, the rest on a lute.

I like the recording because of the intimate, almost naked, near-to-the-ear sound of the instruments (in heretic words: very HIP). Their tone is not as warm as mostly a baroque lute, nearer to a renaissance model. His interpretation provides two (contradictory?) qualities: Clear lines, that I, as a mere listenener, can follow easily - but any interpretation should show this. On the other hand, Kirchhof feels very free using ornamentations and little ideas of his own; sometimes it sounds almost "french", but for example in the case of the well-known Bourrée, I get a new, surprisingly fresh impression of the work.

The disc is a Sony-Vivarte product by the honourable Wolf Erichson, recorded by "Tritonus" Stephan Schellmann - whether you like their line or not, their publications is always a result of an audibly profound work.

As I don´t know Hopkinson Smith´s versions, I´d be curious to compare these two. But I´m sure they must be quite different: I have his intrumentations of the Violin Sonatas & Partitas, and I was lucky too hear him when he was in Vienna about a year ago - well: he´s a Great One.

P.S. on your P.S.
I love these Weiss-rcordings by Barto ! IMO, S.L. Weiss is one of the greatest composers, but will never be known to a larger audience since he composed "only" for the lute - which has always been the esoteric aunt in the instument family. All master lutenists -Junghänel, Smith, many others- published one or two discs, but nobody started a Complete Works series yet. So Naxos is not only cheap, but a pioneer. I´m looking forward to the next volumes.

If you can read a little german, take a look at the excellent site: http://www.slweiss.com/ge

Armagan Ekici (March 3, 2003):
< I like the recording because of the intimate, almost naked, near-to-the-ear sound of the instruments (in heretic words: very HIP). Their tone is not as warm as mostly a baroque lute, nearer to a renaissance model. His interpretation provides two (contradictory?) qualities: Clear lines, that I, as a mere listenener, can follow easily - but any interpretation should show this. On the other hand, Kirchhof feels very free using ornamentations and little ideas of his own; sometimes it sounds almost "french", but for example in the case of the well-known Bourrée, I get a new, surprisingly fresh impression of the work. >
I disagree with this; in Lutz Kirchoff's recording, I think he frequently breaks down the continuity of musical lines by having two notes of the same line in rather different tones. This is obviously a result of the challenge he put to himself ("in the original tunings and tonalities", and in the liner notes he confesses that this task looks so impossible one can question whether Bach really wrote these works for the lute); interesting as it is as a research document, I found this recording musically very weak.

Drew Pierce wrote (March 3, 2003):
[To Thomas Radleff] Thanks so much for the informative, detailed response. I think I'm gonna go for this recording -- if nothing else, it sounds like Kirchhof's reading is insightful in some ways. Plus, it seems likely that the recording is out of print and may soon be completely unavailable.

Thomas Radleff wrote (March 8, 2003):
[To Armagan Ekici] Thank you, Armagan, for posting your controversal sight on this recording. One of our list members said something quite similar in the discussion about BWV 998. I took his & your statements as any other opinion about a recording: as an inspiration for a new approach.

Alas / fortunately? - I don´t hear what you described. I can - mostly - follow Kirchhof´s way. (The only thing that disturbs me has nothing to do with his interpretation: his breath is far to loud on this recording. Could it be that it is more distracting than the usual violinist´s or cellist´s breathing, because a lutenist has a different "phrasing" in respiration? A more physiological than a musical question...)

But here we have an interesting phenomenon:
As I am not a musician, but a mere listener, I´m always searching for a new sight on recordings, especially when a certain interpretation didn´t seize my interest during the first listening sessions. In many many cases, I got very valuable help from all sorts of reviews, liner notes, essays, books and articles, and since I´m in this list, I´m so thankful to many of the members for their remarks on... well, often on minor items or things that are normal for a musician. The reis a rich treasure: finding paths into gardens that have been closed before. This happens quite often, and I´m very glad about it.

Amazingly, it never works the other direction. Even if I can follow someone who is showing me interpretative weakness, faults, or whatever - even if I can hear this, I won´t dislike a recording that I liked before spontaneously.

Of course, the skill of hearing develops by experience, and after some months or years you wonder how you could ever have liked this one...!

Thanks again, to all of you, for your remarks. I wish that even mere consumers could contribute a little bit to a musician´s inspiration by discribing their innocent (?) impressions.

Armagan Ekici wrote (March 8, 2003):
[To Thomas Radleff] Hi Thomas, thanks. When I can spare some time I will give some timings that I heard discontinuity "problems". Mainly the problem lies with a melodical line continuing on a different string with a audibly different tone, and (if I am not mistaken) some octave transpositions that he had to make to make it playable .

That aside, I fully agree with what you are saying. If you like what you hear, it means that that "magic" of musical communication has taken place; and this is what music is all about at the end, regardless of what somebody else thinks on that particular piece or recording.

When I listen to Lutz Kirchoff probably I am biased since I play the classical guitar and I have been playing parts of this repertoire since 10 years, so I approach the music with a certain expectation about the phrasing. Of course somebody else will approach it with a fresh mind, without any bias that I have built up over the years because of "my" understanding of this music!

As I said before, Bach's music is, in essence, nothing but scribblings on paper. It is the magic of music that takes those scribblings and converts it into meaning. Somebody takes that piece of paper and plays it on a computer, somebody else plays it on a lute with historical tuning. If you like what you hear, the interpretation effort is successful.

Mario Zama Escalante wrote (March 9, 2003):
Mainly the problem lies with a melodical line continuing on a different string with a audibly different tone, and (if I am not mistaken) some octave transpositions that he had to make to make it playable .

When you music professionals have at hand the score of a work and understand it, it's very easy for you to objectively evaluate the performance. I think that from that point of view, you can criticize technical issues, but sometimes music can't lose its value when these issues don't deviate objectives (for example, amusing).

Thomas Radleff wrote (March 10, 2003):
[To Armagan Ekici] Yes, sure I´d be interested in listening to these special parts, if you can show them to me - as I said, I´m not afraid that this could damage my appreciation for the recording. Thank you for the word "magic"; that´s exactly what I feel about my spontaneous approach. Some skillful remarks can mostly enlarge the spectre, but hardly destroy my impression of a recording that seized me, - or even "amused" me:

[To Mario] I share your respect, slightly mixed with a little bit suspect toeards professional musicians, but that´s exactly what we´ve been talking about, and though controversal, we came to the same result as you´d wish. Please read the whole text before you bark.

 

Kirchhof's fishhook

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 19, 2003):
David wrote:
< (...) Hans Kirchoff's recording of the complete Lute works, (...) >
Heard next to the sublime musicianship of Hopkinson Smith and Nigel North, Lutz Kirchhof's performance is merely an adequate pass through the notes.

And in his own program notes he openly contradicts his supposed goals...especially in the 2nd, 6th, and final paragraphs. That is, the "in original keys and tunings" teaser all over the packaging is a fishhook for the unwary.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (September 19, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] I didn't know much about him or his recordings. I just suggested it as opposed to say John Williams, who more often than not is actually recording *non* Lute works and passing them off as Lute works. Case in point is the supposed Suite in A for guitar that he records. I have seen the Catalogue of Bach's works and have seen both the BGA and NBA editions of his works, and nowhere is there mentioned a Suite in A for Lute or Guitar. There is a Suite in A that Bach wrote for his friend and fellow musician Samuel Leopold Weiss (which was [I read somewhere] based on a Lute work he wrote), but that was scored for Violin and Basso Continuo. I would have also recommended the guywho recorded the complete Lute works for the Edition Bachakademie series, but I could not remember his name.

Steve Wingfield wrote (September 20, 2003):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< I just suggested it as opposed to say John Williams, who more often than not is actually recording *non* Lute works and passing them off as Lute works. >
This is a ludicrous and uninformed accusation.

< Case in point is the supposed Suite in A for guitar that he records. >
First you accuse Williams of "passing off" non lute works as lute works, now you are talking about a "supposed" suite "for guitar". Which is it? Are you saying he's actually passing a Bach suite off as a guitar work?!

Be more specific about your "case in point"; Is it A major or A minor?

< I have seen the Catalogue of Bach's works and have seen both the BGA and NBA editions of his works, and nowhere is there mentioned a Suite in A for Lute or Guitar. >
Well you shouldn't expect to find any works for guitar by Bach, for a start. There are four suites which have for a long time been conventionally known as "lute suites", even though only one of them is definitely intended for the lute- BWV 995 which bears the inscription "pour le luth". (This is a reworking by Bach of the 5th Cello Suite). Although it seems we'll never be certain, it is generally agreed that the other three suites (BWV 996, 997, and 1006a), together with the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E-flat (BWV 998), and the little Prelude in C minor (BWV 999) *could* have been intended for the lute. They have for decades been played by guitarists, on the basis of the family resemblance (however distant) between the guitar and the lute, and because they can work quite well.

However, the suites which are commonly known as the 2nd and 3rd lute suites, originally in C minor and G minor, are normally transposed into A minor to make them practical on the guitar. If one of these is the "suite in A" to which you are referring, then they are conventionally regarded as "lute suites", and John Williams presents them as such. He has also (like many guitarists) performed a transcription into A major of Bach's 3rd. Cello Suite, but he has never claimed it was a lute work. There is no basis for your ridiculous statement.

 

Lute Works BWV 995-100o, BWV 1006a: Details
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Lute Works - played by Lutz Kirchhof (Lute)

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Last update: ýOctober 26, 2013 ý10:28:04