Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

Lute Suites BWV 995-998; Prelude, Fugue & Allegro BWV 998.
Paul Galbraith (guitar)
Delos DE 3258 59'38"

Less well known than the cello and violin suites, these span the whole of Bach's working life and are of high quality. For Bach the lute had a symbolic significance and the works here have sacred connections; the G minor sarabande quotes the et incarnatus est from the B minor Mass and the C minor, the final chorus of the St Matthew Passion. The former also exists in a cello version (the 5th cello suite), the others not. Galbraith has further arranged them for his special 8-string guitar, which he plays upon a wooden resonance box; its mellow tone here is soothing. Arrangements are now again all the rage!

Galbraith points out the close similarity of sound between lute and clavichord (Bach's professed favourite instrument!) and that he actually developed a keyboard instrument, the lautenwerk, designed to sound like a lute. These suites generally use a dark, lower register, and I have found them gratifying to play on the clavichord, contrasting with the prevailing colour of most other music.

A welcome addition to any Bach collection, well recorded in November 1999 and with good notes by this fine British guitarist to sort them all out their complicated derivations.


Peter Grahame Woolf


Peter Grahame Woolf

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