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GRAMOPHONE (10/2022)
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Reviewer :
William Yeoman

Composers such as Hans Neusidler, whose works could be seen as integral to the development of their instrument’s repertoire – in this case, the lute’s – often inhabit the fringes of musical history. Whether they are destined to remain marginal or not is often left to sympathetic performers such as Yavor Genov to decide.

Neusidler (c1508/09-1563) was born in what is now Bratislava, Slovakia, and moved in 1530 to Nuremburg, where he would live, prosper, make many lutes, sire many children – two of whom became notable lutenists and composers in their own right – and publish eight books of lute music. The first, Ein newgeordent künstlich Lautenbuch (the full title is much longer), appeared in 1536, and it is from this book that Genov draws his selection of pieces.

Playing a bright six-course Francisco Hervaìs lute, Genov indeed proves a persuasive advocate for Neusidler’s art, the embodiments of which range from simple dance tunes through fugues and intabulations of chansons and sacred works to improvisatory ‘Preambels’. However, it is significant that at almost the exact midpoint in the recital Genov places two of the most representative and most beautiful of the pieces here, Mille regretz and Ein seer guter organistischer Preambel.

These, together perhaps with Ein gut trium mit scönen fugen and its hinting at those sweeter unheard melodies typical of fugues for plucked-string instruments, elicit from Genov the most beautiful playing: expressive, cantabile and always cognisant of the disproportionate impact, in lute music, that the simplest of musical elements can have on the listener.


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