The Lute Society: Bach Solo Lute Discography

JS Bach Solo Lute Discography

by John Reeve

The discography lists all solo music by JS Bach recorded on instruments of the lute family. Versions for guitar, mandolin, keyboard etc. are excluded, as are arrangements for more than one instrument.

This all started with John H Robinson’s reaction to Jakob Lindberg’s outstanding CD ‘Bach on the Rauwolf Lute’, which moved him to list all the recordings of Bach on the lute he knew. Tim Crawford, Chris Goodwin and I added some more, and the list quickly grew to over 90 recordings. Since then I have found new sources, added more information and validated it as far as possible.

The list now stands at 133 albums from 85 artists, with 1480 individual movements. It is not a comprehensive list of releases, but rather tries to give just one version of each recorded movement. I have listed the latest and most readily available version of each piece, which means, for example, including CD reissues where available rather than original LPs. I have also listed dedicated recitals in preference to compilations. Sometimes the same piece has been issued more than once by a player, so I have removed duplicates by listening to the recordings, by checking track timings (allowing for small variations) or by validation of the dates of recording. I am confident that the few apparent duplicates in the list are in fact different recordings.

In addition to identifying the works that are included in each release I have tried to list the year of recording. This is especially important in the case of reissues, but in some cases I can only find the year of release, which may be significantly later. These are marked with an asterisk. I have also given information about the instrument used, where possible, including type (lute, theorbo etc.), the number of courses and the configuration of the peg box (such as swan neck or bass rider). Where there is a question mark next to the type, number of courses or configuration it means that the entry is likely to be correct but is not conclusively verified. Where no information is available these entries are missing.

It would have been interesting to have given a comprehensive list of tunings and keys but this information is not generally available and cannot be deduced aurally because of different pitch standards, transposition and the use of non-standard tunings in some recordings.

No list like this is ever complete and it will be a living document with regular updates. New recordings are being released all the time and it is more than likely that I have missed some old recordings too. If you know of any, or can add to or correct any of the information, please let me know!

The remainder of these notes (see linked file below) discusses some of the issues that players must face in arranging and recording these works and provides some insights into the data to give an overview of the recorded repertoire.