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Danijel Cerovic: Silvius Leopold Weiss, Lute Works

review weiss x1 cong p17

Weiss (1687–1750) was a German composer and lutenist, who served at courts in Breslau, Rome, and Dresden, where he died. He was one of the most prolific composers of music for the lute, and one of the best-known, most accomplished and best paid lutenists of his day. He composed more than 600 pieces for the instrument organised into suites or sonatas.

In this programme, Cerovic has selected the only two of Weiss’s sonatas to have been given poetic titles, No 29 L’Infidèle (The Infidel), and No 28 Le Fameux Corsaire (The Famous Pirate), thought to refer to Blackbeard.

Cerovic also includes two tombeaux, written for M Comte de Logy and M Cajetan Baron d’Hartig. Logy was a Bohemian lute-player, Count Johann Anton Losy von Losimthal.
It’s a nice collection of pieces. Given the nature of the music, one player and one guitarist, playing music that were presumably meant to be played in courtly surroundings, it’s not demanding; the opposite in fact, as some people might find it twee, if not insubstantial.

We don’t know where he’d play at court – formal concerts, weddings, private audiences for his patron or as background music for receptions, but presumably the music was meant to played quietly enough that people could get on with their talk, while allowing the musicians’ employer to show off the class of musician he could afford. The lute-player was the best paid musician of the orchestra, fan site slweiss.de reports. There’s not much point paying top dollar if no-one can hear the skill of your players.

The music well conveys the feel of being in palatial surroundings, amid dignified small-talk and grandees eating canapes, or in a select concert.

The sleeve notes report that The Infidel probably refers to 1683, when the Turkish advance through Europe was stopped at the gates of Vienna.

The elegy to Losy/Logy is one of his most famous works, and Losy was an influence on Weiss, but it’s not noticeably gloomier than the rest.

Nice music, played really well.

This is out on Naxos, 8.574068.

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