Album for Lute a Rare Find
Dr. Werner Wolffheim was one of the pre-eminent collectors of music manuscripts. He gathered over 15,000 original works and publications dating back centuries.
In 1929 Wolffheim liquidated his music collection. And in the process, a hidden treasure emerged.
One of the volumes that came up for auction was the “Album for the Lute.” It contained works for the Baroque lute, the majority written in the mid-1600s. And many of these pieces are only found in this collection.
This recording delivers twenty world premiere recordings from that collection. Most are anonymous. A few are credited. Some such as Ennemond Gaultier and Easias Reusner were lutenists. But there’s also a work by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer.
By the early 1700s, the lute had greatly expanded in scope. It grew from a 7-course instrument (14 strings) to 11 (22 strings). Bernhard Hofstotter plays on the instrument the music was written for: an 11-course Baroque lute.
Hofstotter navigates around this complex instrument with ease. I appreciated how clean the performances were. In other genres, fingers sliding across strings are part of the musical expression. In classical music, it’s a distraction, but something that can still happen on occasion.
Hofstotter never falters. Every note sounds clean and clear. No slides, no extraneous sound. That purity of tone added to my enjoyment of these works. Some of them have very thick textures. Being able to hear every note made a huge difference.
A fascinating collection, and one I’m glad I heard. Recommended.
Album for the Lute
Bernhard Hofstotter, baroque lute