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Radolt Lute Concertos

Concerto e minor (transponiert)
Aria C Major
Toccata F Major
Concerto F Major
Concerto G Major
Symphonia g minor
Concerto C Minor

Ars Antiqua Austria
Gunar Letzbor
violin/directorHubert Hoffmann: lute | Piroska Batori: violin | Claire Pottinger-Schmidt: viola da gamba | Jan Krigovsky: violone | Sven Schwannberger & Klaus Köb: lutes

Challenge Classics CC 72291

The once well known composer Wenzel Ludwig Edler von Radolt (1667-1716) was born in Vienna and died there.

This recording from a 1701 collection, the fruit of extensive research, brings back to life a neglected genre that once enjoyed great popularity in German speaking countries. The variety of scoring is striking: "from four-part string writing with three obbligato lutes of various sizes, to the relatively intimate combination of single violin, obbligato viola da gamba (viol), lute and bass" (Hubert Hoffmann).

I share happily AAA's excitement and joy at their "invaluable discovery" of virgin territory. They are still enthralled by "such contented sounds as in the first partita" and, with sharpening of intonation within the un-equal tempered tuning for the C minor concerto, "one of the saddest pieces I have ever played" (Gunar Letzbor). With varying instrumentations (4 strings and three lutes) this first CD tries to be representative of a large treasure trove of music "with all the cantabile grace and tender melancholy, for which the lute was so highly valued in the 17th & 18th centuries; characteristics that were soon to lead to its decline" (HH).

Gunar Letzbor's preface is worth quoting, in the context of my having been reading Lake and Griffiths' Horizons Touched and listening to the ECM Dowland Project CDs which, encouraged by Manfred Eicher's carte blanche to "bypass the musicological thought police and negotiate directly with the dead composers", use saxophone and jazz-based improvisation to support the singing, claiming thereby "to reclaim Dowland's music for ourselves - - re-negotiated with the long-dead composer" (John Potter).

Ars Antiqua Austria has premiered countless works, "turning them into sound again after centuries slumbering on dusty shelves", contending that "in the process something new has been created - - we see ourselves as interpreters of New Music even if we see ourselves placed within the niche of the 'Old' " (Gunar Letzbor). That debate about H.I.P has been long-running and will continue.

The essays, in large print, are absorbing but the presentation is not quite ideal. There is a missing word between pages 8 and 9, and no attribution for the attractive painting which I cannot resist reproducing above...

A must-buy for explorers of NEW OLD MUSIC.

Peter Grahame Woolf