The Famous Weiss David Miller, baroque lutes 68’21
Sonata No 5 in D minor, Prelude & Fantasie in C minor, Sonata No 30 in G minor, Prelude in D major, Campanella in D major, Passagaille in D major, Giga in D major.
The thoughtful and reflective mood of the opening D minor Prelude sets the scene for this enthralling CD of lute music by Silvius Leopold Weiss. I was introduced to the music of Weiss by David Miller in a Dartington concert in the mid 90s. An almost exact contemporary of JS Bach and Handel, Weiss spent time in Rome (alongside Handel and Scarlatti) before settling as lutenist to the Dresden Court. His visit to Berlin produced the ‘Famous Weiss’ comment from the sister of the future Frederick the Great.
The two Sonatas (in practice, multi-movement Suites) from the Dresden manuscripts are nicely contrasted, the simpler D minor suite forming a foil to the more substantial, elaborate and musically advanced G minor set. Of the six other pieces from a British Library manuscript, the Prelude in C minor, with its distinctive octave opening, shows Weiss’s imaginative use of harmonic modulation, a factor specifically mentioned in relation to a competition with Bach in Dresden. As the opening Prelude demonstrates, David Miller plays with a particular sensitivity to musical ebb and flow, as well as producing a beautifully rich and refined tone.
There is an informative video made during the recording process at http://www.timespanrecordings.co.uk/david-miller—baroque-lute.html.