Notes and Editorial Reviews
Every few years it seems the CD catalog is enriched by a new set of performances of Bach lute works, and in this latest project, the much-admired virtuoso Paul O'Dette offers his own (quite successful!) resolutions to issues concerning Bach's intentions regarding performance--as written, most of Bach's scores are not wholly playable on the standard 18th-century 13-course lute. Even beginning in Bach's time and continuing to the present lutenists have produced various alternative transcriptions, revoicings, and transpositions, and O'Dette has chosen thoughtful, creative solutions (opting for Hopkinson Smith's suggested A minor transposition of the G minor suite, for instance), maintaining idiomatic textures while employing fingerings that
allow remarkable fluidity, continuity of contrapuntal lines, and unobtrusive register shifts. Yes, we fully recognize the original violin partita as the source of the Partita in E major BWV 1006a (which O'Dette transposes to F major), but as articulated on the lute, its various dance movements somehow sound, well, more "dance-like", less formal.
The lute's usual quick sound-decay is not really an issue here due to the very resonant venue--the concert hall at Quebec's Le Domaine Forget--a site designed specifically for music performance and known for its excellent acoustics (and extraordinary silence!), but whose "live" space can also require some serious taming for optimal recorded sound. For this recording, the "live-ness" at first seemed a bit extreme for my ears, making me feel too alone in too big a space. But the longer O'Dette played, the less concerned I became, because each note sounded so clearly, the chords ringing fully and warmly, and with no extraneous noises or performance artifacts. After a few minutes I was fully engrossed in the music and happily enveloped in the sound. Also happily, this disc is Volume 1, so we can expect more beautiful Bach from O'Dette and his HM recording team. Bravo!
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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