There was a point where the lute sonatas of Sylvius Leopold Weiss were so obscure that Andrés Segovia would play them on guitar thinking he was doing them a favor through reviving them on the "superior" instrument. However, Weiss played a 13-course lute and Segovia's Spanish classical guitar naturally has only six strings; while Segovia considered an instrument like Weiss' as having "too many strings," it is nevertheless the right one to play Weiss' music on, owing to its tone and special resonance. One of the finest players of 13-course lute is Spaniard José Miguel Moreno, who has played in Jordi Savall's group Hesperion XX and leads another, La Romanesca. Glossa's Sylvius Leopold Weiss: Ars Melancholiae consists of two complete Weiss sonatas, two chaconnes, and a little clutch of single pieces placed at the album's center; recorded in 1993, this is one of the finest single-disc collections devoted to Weiss ever.
Alessandro Stradella’s colourful life and eventual murder have since furnished writers with material for novels and stageworks. But he was very highly regarded as a composer during his short life, and made important contributions to several musical forms with operas, instrumental sinfonie and cantatas. This programme features five seldom performed chamber cantatas and two of his sinfonie or sonatas. Soprano Christine Brandes has a light, pleasing voice, and an athletic technique which enables her to circumnavigate most of Stradella’s often demanding vocal writing. But she is stretched to her limits, perhaps even a shade beyond, in the virtuoso, fiendishly difficult ‘Ferma il corso e torna al lido’.
This difficult to find recording is worth the search; it contains some of the finest recorded work of Al Haig's enigmatic career. Haig was an important figure in the early development of bebop piano and can be heard as a sideman on many seminal recordings from the 1940s, including Salt Peanuts and Hot House. His refined classical technique was relatively unique at the time, and he was admired as a superb accompanist. Between the mid-'50s and the early 1970s there is a curiously large gap in his recorded output evidently due to personal problems. In fact, Al Haig Today! appears to be his only release as a leader during the '60s.