Album detail
Catalogue number: SU 4343-2

The album, which is being released by Supraphon in its Music of the 18th-century Prague series, is focused on works by the important lutenist and composer, Count Jan Antonín Losy (1651–1721), looking at them from an unusual point of view. The album, aptly called Losy, Weiss: Lute Music in Prague and Vienna, circa 1700, also presents compositions originally written for lute, in alternative but original period versions. Historical instruments player, teacher, researcher and producer Jan Čižmář recorded the music with the Polish {oh!} Ensemble, headed by violinist Martyna Pastuszka. The result is a revealing album premiering some of Losy’s lute compositions in unusual and varied sound versions and is being released by Supraphon on 24 May 2024 on CD and in digital formats.

Losy is known as a leading figure of lute playing in the Hapsburg monarchy, particularly in Vienna and Prague. Many scattered sources prove that some of his solo pieces were also played as chamber music for lute combined with different instruments although no accompaniment parts survive. Jan Čižmář reconstructed selected ensemble compositions for the album in order to show the variety of possible instrumentation indicated in some sources.

For about two centuries, the lute was the main instrument on which the virtuoso musician could show his artistry and sills of expression. Its intimacy requires attentive listening and the surviving compositions by great masters show how that was important: period sources describe how famous players could affect their listeners’ emotions. In the first half of the 17th century, the earlier “Renaissance” style was replaced by a new, French music style based on the dance and vocal music of the Ballet de cour of Paris. The music of great Paris lutenists, such as François Dufaut, Denis Gaultier and Charles Mouton, who used a new tuning and the characteristic style brisé (broken style), has been preserved in surprisingly larger numbers, even in other than French sources (mostly in German-speaking areas), including the nobility’s libraries of the Hapsburg Empire. Losy’s music is one of the pinnacles of a creative approach to the French style in Central Europe.

Jan Čižmář comments on the album: “The idea of an album of compositions by Jan Antonín Losy is part of a larger project called 'Losyana' consisting of four parts: an extensive treatise (Acta Losyana) on his works and family and on the historical (not only musical) context; a catalogue of his oeuvre (Opera Losyana), which also includes the newly discovered pieces, published in the Editio Losyana series – and some of them can be heard on this album. I have been interested in Losy for many years. I felt a kind of debt towards him because I think that he is underrated as a lutenist – he is often said to have been appreciated in his time especially because he was a nobleman. And that is what our album should put right – we want to show that he was admired especially because his was indisputably high-quality music.”

After he died, Jan Antonín Losy was honoured by his younger colleague, Silvius Leopold Weiss, who memorialised him in his famous Tombeau. Jan Čižmář remarks: “Tombeau is intentionally put at the end of the album. It is a musical tribute to Losy’s compositions, so the recordings are put in complete context for the listener, with a captivating story.”

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