Give Now  »

A Geeky Musical Version Of 'Bones'

Lute player and musicologist Richard Stone admits that for his recording of concerti by Sylvius Leopold Weiss he worked like a detective reconstructing a crime scene. "It is sort of a forensic anthropology kind of thing, a very geeky musical version of the TV series 'Bones.' Nobody dies, but we still have to reconstruct the crime, which is the music."

Top Notch Stuff

Weiss was a contemporary of Telemann, Rameau and Scarlatti, and one of the best known and most technically accomplished lute players of his day. "Weiss had this amazing gift for making the instrument sound at its most resonant, so there was a certain kind of just visceral attraction on the basis of sound and resonance. But on top of that, he had outstanding gifts as a composer as well. So his music is top notch stuff."

Less Than The Title Promises

Weiss left more than six hundred works. Most are for solo lute, but he also wrote chamber pieces and concertos. "Yes," says Stone "but though the title page says it's for lute and flute and the form might suggest that it's a concerto, all that's survived is the part for lute."

It's All In The Lute

Stone is modest about his reconstructions. "The lute part provides a skeleton; like a harpsichord, it was always playing. So from it you know the basic bass movement and the harmonies even when it wasn't soloing. The music kind of tells you when the lute is primary and when it's secondary. So it suggests the flute part, and I could come up with something that I hoped would be interesting to listen to and make sense in relation to the lute part."

A Matter Of Taste

But the concertos had more than just two parts. "There's no indication at all there about what the orchestration was. I just divvied that one up, came up with a number of instruments and then looked at other examples from the same court where Weiss worked. Also there were these catalogs of pieces by Weiss, so I had at least a sense of a taste preference."

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From