The Swansong of the Lute

CHRISTOPHER SMITH King of Hearts, Norwich


King of Hearts, Norwich

The height of fashion in the Renaiss-ance, the lute fell from favour in the 18th century. This change, which is commented on in every history of music, amounted to a challenge for Lynda Sayce.

Her delightful, gentle recital showed the evolution in taste was gradual and had some charming twists and turns in works of composers rarely heard in Norwich.

A suite by Ernst Baron was full of echoes of the older manner in nine movements in traditional styles. The most impressive movement came with the switch from the slow suspense of the Sarabande to the cheerful Gigue.

The soloist's long fingers seemed to move by clockwork as she drew complex patterns from her instrument. It was a copy of a period model by the Norwich maker David Van Edwards.

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There was more evidence of originality in Bernhard Hagen's Sonata. It was not just a matter of departures from the usual structures. He also created opportunities for a lot more contrast between the upper and lower strings as he put more drama into his music.

Turning to a Mandora, the bass lute continued to be played until the coming of Romanticism. Sayce perfor-med her own arrangement of one of Bach's Cello Suites. The transposition though neat, did not work particularly well. But it was a convincing reminder that the Leipzig composer did make use of the instrument.

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