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Lute Works BWV 995-1000, BWV 1006a
General Discussions

Bach on Lute

Francine Renee Hall wrote (October 12, 2001):
I seem to detect a bit of 'nationality' styles when Bach is played on the lute. First, the obvious HIP choice is the lovely "Works for Lute" played by Lutz Kirchhof on Sony Classical Vivarte "in original keys and tunings" calling for unbelievable handwork. But what strikes me most is British versus Spanish, in other words, Julian Bream and Narciso Yepes, where the differences are rather strong. I love them both, so depending on my mood I'll head for one or the other. Bach's "Werke fur Laute" on the 2-CD set on DG (import) (445 713-2) as played by Yepes is so soft and relaxing. When I heard Segovia play just before he died, the master also played Bach and other composers very softly. On the other hand, Julian Bream (who has a great Dances of Dowland on RCA by the way) attacks the lute more forcibly. His Trio Sonatas on lute with George Malcolm on harpsichord are lots of fun. These are available on RCA Red Seal (RCD1-5841). Any thoughts on the matter?

(And a PS: When I heard Bach's Trio Sonatas on organ played by Herrick on the Hyperion label I was disappointed. And I don't know why, but I'm not a fan of organ tremolo!!!)

 

BWV 998 Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E flat Major

Francis Browne wrote (February 27, 2002):
Some years ago out of curiosity I bought a Naxos disc of Bach Piano Works by János Sebestyén. On a first casual listening it was BWV 998 ( Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E flat Major) that first seized my attention and became as it were the hook that led me to explore Bach's keyboard music. That seems a long (and delightful) time ago but I have retained a special affection for this prelude. The only other recording I have of it is on harpsichord by Maggie Cole - which I enjoy immensely.

But I wonder if any members of the list could recommend any other recordings of this piece (on harpsichord, piano or lute).

Francine Renee Hall wrote (February 27, 2002):
[To Francis Browne] I can't find my other CDs of this particular work, but I found two outstanding interpretations of BWV 998: 1) on DG, 2-CD set (445713) played on 11-string lute by Narciso Yepes. I am not ashamed to say that when I was feeling really, really bad, I played the entire set at least 100 times. Yepes plays softy, with ease and elegance. 2) If you want to go totally HIP, including original tunings and fingerings, go for Lutz Kirchhof, both on Theorbo and baroque lute. This is also a 2-CD set on Sony Vivarte's label (45858). Kirchhof makes this incredibly difficult work sound easy.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 27, 2002):
[To Francis Browne] It's one of my favorites too. I discovered it long ago when I was playing guitar.

You should definitely check out Robert Hill's recording Works for Lute Harpsichord on Hänssler. In addition to this wonderful piece, you will discover the unique sound of a very interesting instrument.

Harry J. Steinman wrote (February 27, 2002):
[To Francis Browne] Guitarist Julian Bream recorded BWV 998 on his "Bach Guitar Recital" recording, (EMI Classics, D 106073). I highly recommend the recording which includes the E Minor lute suite (BWV 996) the third violin partita (BWV 1006) and a phenomenol recording of the beloved Chaconne from the 2nd violin partita (BWV 1004).

BTW, if you enjoy guitar works of JSB, look for Bream's 1965 recording on RCD (RCD1-5841). A bit hard to find, but his early recording of the E Minor and A Minor lute suites is unparalleled. Other guitar artists that bring out the best in Bach are Nicola Hall and Paul Galbraith. All three guitarists, interestingly, are British, if I'm not mistaken.

Francis Browne wrote (February 27, 2002):
Thank you -Francine, Kirk and Harry - for your recommendations for BWV 998. I am interested to see that you all enthusiastically suggest different recordings on a variety of instruments - but not harpsichord , although I read somewhere that Bach himself assigned this piece for lute or harppsichord. I am particularly intrigued by the lute harpsichord mentioned by Kirk.

Trying to follow up these suggestions will, I antcipate, be a great pleasure.

Again, many thanks

Michael Grover wrote (February 27, 2002):
[To Francis Browne] I second Kirk's recommendation of the Hill recording on lute-harpsichord. It's a wonderful album. The instrument is very interesting -- essentially a harpsichord in shape and design, but (as far as I understand it (I'm no expert)) with some alterations, most notably the use of gut rather than metal strings to approximate the sound of a lute. Some people have discussed on this list in the past that Hill's use of ornamentation seems at times to be a bit excessive, but the music (I particularly enjoy the pieces in major keys such as BWV 998) and playing are full of energy and life.

Thomas Radleff wrote (February 28, 2002):
[To Francis Browne] Let me add two more recordings that both include BWV 998, and both are outstanding:

Naive recently released Bachīs lute works, played by Stephan Schmidt in the original keys on a modern 10-string guitar. Wonderful spectrum of sounds, warm & clear, slowly pacing tempi that you can follow easily, though enough interpretative tension.

The most fascinating Bach lute works recording that I ever heard (though I admire & love Lutz Kirchhoffīs as well) has been published ī95 on Hungaroton: Gergely Sárközy plays the lute and a lute-harpsichord; on the same double CD set you find the Gambensonaten played on a Viola Bastarda. This record is a treasure full of new, witty, sometimes wise sights on these works. Sure, manierism at every seventh corner, but mostly refreshing discoveries. BWV 998īs fuge takes more than 10 minutes, but i could not tell it was slow! Does anybody know it ?

One more: Christiane Jacottet recorded a disc with a theorbo-harpsichord, including BWV 998 a.o., released by Saphir. The recording sound of this one gives a fine illusion: it fills a normal living room exactly, as if you were sitting in the centre of the insrument.

(Where did Kirk find Robert Hillīs BWV 998-recording? Itīs not on the "Original & Transcription" double disc, Hänssler Bachakademie No.110.)

with warm recommendations,

Philip Walsh wrote (February 28, 2002):
Francis inquires about recordings of BWV 998 ( Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E flat Major). Though it's not exactly a HIP performance, I've always enjoyed John Williams's performance on guitar (SONY SBK 629730). This disk also has the 4th lute suite (BWV1006a) and some other works. (Including, too un-HIP even for me, a number of works arranged for guitar and organ with Peter Hurford on the latter.)

Three other lute suites and a number of shorter lute works are on a companion disk, SONY SBK62972, which I also enjoy.

Joost wrote (February 28, 2002):
[To Francis Browne] Let me add my two cents to the survey of recordings of BWV 998, both by true magicians on their instruments.

Gustav Leonhardt has a double cd with transcriptions of BWV 998, together with 1001, 1002, 1004, 1005, 1006 and 1012. Deutsche harmonia Mundi 74321-32320-2.

Hopkinson Smith recorded BWV 995, 996, 997, 998, 999, 1000 and 1016. I still have them on LP, but I believe these are to be found on Auvidis 7721 (2cd).

Both collections are real gems.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 28, 2002):
Thomas Radleff wrote:
< (Where did Kirk find Robert Hillīs BWV 998-recording? Itīs not on the "Original & Transcription" double disc, Hänssler Bachakademie No.110.) >
It is volume 109, called Works for Lute Harpsichord.

Drew Pierce wrote (February 28, 2002):
Thomas Radleff wrote:
< The most fascinating Bach lute works recording that I ever heard (though I admire & love Lutz Kirchhoffīs as well) has been published ī95 on Hungaroton: Gergely Sárközy plays the lute and a lute-harpsichord; on the same double CD set you find the Gambensonaten played on a Viola Bastarda. >
Could you say a bit more about the Kirchoff recording? I saw it in the store the other day for $22 and was interested in purchasing it, but was unable to find any reviews (I noticed that it was released at the end of the 1980's). I have Junghaenel and Hopkinson Smith's complete recordings, but always have more room for lute recordings.

P.S. -- I recently picked up the first four volumes of Naxos' series of Weiss lute sonatas (Robert Barto). I have only listened to Vol. 1 so far, and find the playing and recorded sound to be excellent.

Francis Browne wrote (February 28, 2002)
Thanks to Michael,Thoamas Philip and Joost for their suggestions. If I have counted correctly, I now have ten enthusiastic recommendations for BWV 998.

What a pleasant dilemma. !

 

BWV 998

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 3, 2002):
When discussing this piece a few weeks ago, Brad mentioned that it is a relatively easy piece to play. I looked at the score, and this is indeed true, though the three flats throw me off a bit (I'm a novice, still...). Does anyone have this in a different key that would be easier to play? I could probably transpose it with great effort, but if someone has a score generated by a program that they could transpose it to an easier key I would be very thankful.

Armagan Ekici wrote (April 3, 2002):
[To Kirk McElhearn] Hi Kirk, we guitarists routinely play it in D Major -- if I send you a MIDI file will you be able to print the notation? If not, I can send you a simple MIDI Sequencer that prints a (not very professionally rendered!) notation.

The Sibelius demo is free to download, but I think it only prints the first page...

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 3, 2002):
Armagan Ekici wrote:
< Hi Kirk, we guitarists routinely play it in D Major -- if I send you a MIDI file will you be able to print the notation? If not, I can send you a simple MIDI Sequencer that prints a (not very professionally rendered!) notation. >
I have nothing to print out midi files. Can you send me a Mac program?

Armagan Ekici wrote (April 3, 2002):
[To Kirk McElhearn] Oops, I only have Windows.

I looked it up, the "Nightlite" or "Nightingale" software given below is supposed to be doing what you need: http://www.aitech.ac.jp/~ckelly/mmuig.html

Midi files of the D Major guitar version from Classical MIDI archive
(www.prs.net):
http://www.classicalarchives.com/m/5/bmv998a.mid
http://www.classicalarchives.com/m/5/bmv998b.mid
http://www.classicalarchives.com/m/5/bmv998c.mid

 

Lute Works BWV 995-1000, 1006a - Discography

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 14, 2004):
I have compiled a discography of the Lute Works BWV 995-1000 & 1006a (LW). I have used every possible source I could find, including various websites and printed catalogues and my private collection.

You can find a list of the complete recordings of the LW split into several pages, a page for a decade, starting at the page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/NVD/BWV995-1000.htm
The discography includes complete sets of the 7 LW, as well as complete recordings of individual LW. Except for a few cases, it does not include recordings of individual movements from these works. During the compiling process, I have been surprised to find out that there are not too many complete recorded sets of the LW. It is also interesting to note that these works started to be recorded relatively late. After the pioneering efforts of Segovia in the late 1920's, there was almost nothing during the next three decades. The real breakthrough came only in the mid 1960's with Gerwig, Williams and Bream.

All in all there are at least 114 different recordings of the LW. Most of them are played, of course, on either lute or guitar. However, you can also find recordings of these works on harpsichord, organ, lute-harpsichord, flute & harpsichord, etc. On the other hand there are recorded arrangements of other Bach's works on lute or guitar, such as the Violin S&P, the GV, etc. But those recordings are beyond the scope of the discography at hand.

If you are aware of a recording of the LW not listed in the discography pages, or if you find an error or missing information, please inform me, either through the BRML or to my personal e-mail address.

There have been some discussions of the LW in the BRML. Those discussions have also been compiled, and the above page includes links to the discussions. You are invited to use this discography and the previous discussions as a springboard for a new discussion of these charming works.

 

Lute Works BWV 995-1000, BWV 1006a - Revised discography

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 28, 2008):
In February 2004, I informed you of a discography I had compiled of J.S. Bach's Lute Works BWV 995-1000 & BWV 1006a (LW). That discography included 114 recordings. During the four years and a half I have gathered info of additional recordings, using every possible source I could find, including websites as J.S. Bach Home Page and All Music Guide, web-stores, artist websites, and other websites I have been able to find using Google search engine, as well as various catalogues and my private collection. I am not aware of any similar web-discography of the LW.

You can find the list of LW recordings split into several pages, a page for a decade, starting at the page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/NVD/BWV995-1000.htm
The discography includes complete sets of the 7 LW, as well as complete recordings of individual LW. Except for a few cases, it does not include recordings of individual movements from these works.

All in all, 219 different albums, which include recordings of the LW, are now listed (meaning that the previous list has almost been doubled). As with other discographies on the BCW, each recording is listed only once. All the issues of each recording are presented together. Most of them are played, of course, on either lute or guitar. However, you can also find recordings of these works on harpsichord, piano, organ, lute-harpsichord, chamber ensembles, etc. On the other hand there are recorded arrangements of other Bach's works on lute or guitar, such as the Violin S&P, the GV, etc. But those recordings are beyond the scope of the discography at hand.

In the process I have also built Bach discographies and bio pages of most of the artists who have recorded the LW. For your convenience, the artist discographies and the LW discography pages are inter-linked, as with other discographies on the BCW.

If you are aware of a recording of the LW not listed in these pages, or if you find an error or missing information, please inform me, either through the BRML or to my personal e-mail address.

 

BCW: Lute Works 995-1000 & 1006a - Revised & Updated Discograpy

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 5, 2011):
The discography pages of the Lute Works BWV 995-1000 & 1006a on the BCW have been revised & updated:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/NVD/BWV995-1000.htm
The discography is arranged chronologically, a page per a decade, and includes 342 recordings of these works on lute, guitar, keyboard and arrangements, but not of other works on lute or guitar.
If you have any correction, addition, etc., please inform me.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 5, 2011):
[To Aryeh Oron] Wonderful to see that Nonesuch Record included with the beautiful cover art work by Donald Leake.
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-NonVocal-BIG/Gerwig-S01-3a%5BNonesuch-LP%5D.jpg]

Thanks!

Lionel Party wrote (September 5, 2011):
[To Aryeh Oron] Highly questionable that BWV 997 is for lute. The primary source for NBA is a manuscript by Agricola, playable only on a keyboard, range GG-f''' on treble and bass clefs. The title is Praeludium, Fuge, Sarabande un Gigue fürs Clavier, Von J.S. Bach. See Kritische Berichte NBA V/10 for complete info on sources. Best, Lionel

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 5, 2011):
[To Lionel Party] Thanks for your message. I had forwarded it to Thomas Braatz, who answered as follows:
This is a very complicated question. It is difficult to summarize all the detailed research (in NBA V/10 and NBA KB V/10) that has gone into BWV 997.
The NBA V/10 p. VI (Foreword) states succinctly: Die hier vorgelegten Kompositionen sind mit Ausnahme des Schlußsatzes (Double zur Gigue) der c-Moll-Suite BWV 997 sämtlich Lautenkompositionen [All of the compositions printed as music in this volume are compositions for lute with the exception of the final movement (the Gigue Double) of the C minor Suite BWV 997.]
The NBA KB V/10 p. 140 explains regarding BWV 997: Der Satzstil der Suite ist insgesamt lautenistischer als der jener Lautenwerke, die Bach nach eigenen früheren Kompositionen gearbeitet hat wie BWV 995, 1000 und 1006a. Doch gibt es keine sicheren Anhaltspunkte dafür, daß BWV 997 eine Originalkomposition für die Laute und die Vorlage von Quelle A [Agricola] nicht viel früher entstanden ist als diese Abschrift. [The style of composition of this suite is, as a whole, much more lute-like than the other works that Bach transcribed for lute (BWV 995, 1000, 1006a). However, there are no certain indications either that BWV 997 was originally composed for lute and that the source that Agricola used was composed much earlier than Agricola's copy.]

So, in short, the final mvt. of BWV 997 is not a composition for lute.
The remaining mvts. of BWV 997 are more like real lute music than the others which Bach transcribed himself.
There is no secure evidence nor are there any hints that BWV 997 is in reality a composition originally composed for lute or that it might have been composed much earlier.

May I add that even in the most recent List of Bach Works appearing in Grove Online, BWV 997 is listed in the group of Lute Works.

 

Lute Works BWV 995-100o, BWV 1006a: Details
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Last update: ýSeptember 9, 2011 ý16:18:20