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Bach: Works For Lute Vol 1 / Jason Vieaux


Release Date: 02/24/2009 
Label:  Azica   Catalog #: 71250   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Jason Vieaux displays consummate artistry and the music is sublime.

Imagine the scene if you will. It is 1738 and the great J.S. goes to Dresden and he meets Silvius Leopold Weiss court lutenist to the Saxon Elector Frederick Augustus I. He also meets the renowned Johann Kropfgans, a gifted pupil of Weiss who is lutenist to the Elector's chief minister. J.S. does not play the lute but is interested. The instrument has really had its day but seems yet to have so much promise. Bach also found time to make music with these two colleagues. An eye-witness account reports as much. The following year Bach writes the Suite in C minor and the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro. He had used the lute in St. John Passion and as part the
Read more continuo and elsewhere. In his so-called Weimar period from 1708-1717 he had written other lute works including the E minor Suite.

Perhaps I am being a bit of a purist but I find it curious that a guitarist would choose to record this repertoire especially if, as here, he has to transpose three of the four works into another key. Is it not like playing Bach on the piano? Perhaps it's like saying that the F sharp Prelude and Fugue are a bit tricky so we'll transpose them into G? There's nothing wrong with that, I hear you say, nevertheless it needs to be pointed out.

This is, by my count Jason Vieaux's sixth recording for the enterprising Azica Cleveland-based label. However it's the first time he has recorded anything from the baroque period. I have missed the others but enjoyed some extracts from these discs over the internet.

I started the CD with the short Suite in E minor, which is untransposed and is a perfect key for the guitar. The pattern is followed similarly in the other suites: Prelude and Fugue (here quite straightforward and easy) an Allemande, then a typically French Courante, followed by an expressive Sarabande - gorgeous in this suite. Then comes the best known movement: a two-part Bourée ending with a Gigue. In other words the work follows the standard suite form which we also find in the solo cello suites except that here the Minuet is excluded.

The C minor Suite is transposed up from A minor. Richard E. Rodda, in his useful booklet notes, dates it to 1740. The work dispenses with the Allemande and Courante and instead has a long fugue made even more involved by a complete da capo of its first half. In addition the Gigue is followed by a double, or variation, which here is separately tracked. It was whilst listening to this work that Vieaux's artistry really hit home. His sense of colour, phrase shaping and beautifully expressive dynamics are remarkable. It is not easy, especially in a long fugue, to keep the listener with you.

Apparently we can date the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E flat major (played here in D) to 1740-45. It is also possible to play it on a keyboard or I should say a clavier. The Fugue is complex for the guitar and in fairness I don't feel that it's one of the, master's best. Even so the Prelude is especially moving and the final allegro lively and catchy. It brings the CD to a happy conclusion.

We end at the beginning and with the finest work on the CD. It's difficult to date precisely when Bach made his lute transcription of the Fifth Cello Suite. He may have intended it for the 'cembal' (harpsichord) according to the rather ambiguous manuscript. In any event it works beautifully especially in the hands of Jason Vieaux. There are two Gavottes in this suite. The second is a 'Gavotte en Rondo'. However it is the austere and very deeply thoughtful Prelude which gives this piece its particular gravitas. The closeness of the recording makes one feel as if the performance is happening privately in one's home.

It's heartening to know that the disc is labeled 'Volume 1'. Despite my caveats the playing displays consummate artistry and the music is sublime.

-- Gary Higginson, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Suite for Lute in G minor, BWV 995: 1st movement, Prelude by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 5 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
2.
Suite for Lute in G minor, BWV 995: 2nd movement, Allemande by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
3.
Suite for Lute in G minor, BWV 995: 3rd movement, Courante by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
4.
Suite for Lute in G minor, BWV 995: 4th movement, Sarabande by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
5.
Suite for Lute in G minor, BWV 995: 5th movement, Gavotte no 1 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
6.
Suite for Lute in G minor, BWV 995: 6th movement, Gavotte no 2 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
7.
Suite for Lute in G minor, BWV 995: 7th movement, Gigue by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
8.
Suite for Lute in E minor, BWV 996: 1st movement, Prélude by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
9.
Suite for Lute in E minor, BWV 996: 2nd movement, Allemande by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
10.
Suite for Lute in E minor, BWV 996: 3rd movement, Courante by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
11.
Suite for Lute in E minor, BWV 996: 4th movement, Sarabande by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
12.
Suite for Lute in E minor, BWV 996: 5th movement, Bourée by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
13.
Suite for Lute in E minor, BWV 996: 6th movement, Gigue by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
14.
Partita for Lute in C minor, BWV 997: 1st movement, Prelude by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1737-1741; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
15.
Partita for Lute in C minor, BWV 997: 2nd movement, Fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1737-1741; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 7 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
16.
Partita for Lute in C minor, BWV 997: 3rd movement, Sarabande by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1737-1741; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 5 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
17.
Partita for Lute in C minor, BWV 997: 4th movement, Gigue by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1737-1741; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
18.
Partita for Lute in C minor, BWV 997: 5th movement, Double by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1737-1741; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
19.
Prelude, Fugue and Allegro for Lute in E flat major, BWV 998: Prelude by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1740; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
20.
Prelude, Fugue and Allegro for Lute in E flat major, BWV 998: Fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1740; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 6 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 
21.
Prelude, Fugue and Allegro for Lute in E flat major, BWV 998: Allegro by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1740; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Notes: Audio Engineer: Bruce Egre.
Audio Producer: Alan Bise. 

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