Lute-Harpsichord? What's that? Like their recent release of virginal music, the folks at Dorian have unearthed another oddly delightful instrument from the distant past. The Laudenwerk is a harpsichord-like instrument with the same range as the lute, but somewhat lower than the harpsichord. Because it is strung with gut rather than brass, its tone is more mellow, less mechanical-sounding. Listening to the famous Suite in C minor (BWV 997), you could swear that a couple of lute players were at work. Bach had two Laudenwerke and scholars have surmised that many of his pieces were actually designed for the instrument. The eponymous Suite in E minor (BWV 996), subtitled "aufs Laudenwerk", certainly was.
Kim Heindel plays with gentleness and subtlety, never trying to dazzle listeners with his virtuosity. He also plays a lot slower, savoring the notes like ripe berries. The famous Suite in E Major (BWV 1006a), ordinarily played with stunning rapidity as Violin Partita #3, turns into a moody, meandering piece at Heindel's fingertips. Sometimes he explores the instrument almost tentatively, as if it were an unfamilar forest with hidden wonders and traps. This is curious late night music, best heard when your flat on your back in your living room floor, your analytical talons withdrawn.
Copyright © 1996, Peter Bates