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Robert de VISÉE (c.1655-1733)
Lute Music
D major - Allemande gay [2.49]; Courante [2.34];Courante [2.33]; Gigue [1.59]
G major - Chaconne [4.56]
C minor - Tombeau de dut But Allemande [4.31]; Courante [2.33]
A major/minor - La Muzette-Rondeau [11.36]
F sharp minor - Allemande grave [4.35]; Allemande gay [3.41]; Courante [2.33]; Sarabande [3.36]; Gigue [2.17]
A major - La Du Hautmènil Sarabande [3.35]; Gigue grave [3.15]
A minor - Chaconne [3.18]; Tombeau de Vieux Gallot Allemande [5.09]
Toyohiko Satoh (lute)
rec. 6-8 June 2012, St.Marien, Schönemoor, Germany
CARPE DIEM CD-16296 [65.40] 

This is very civilised music, played and recorded in a beautifully civilised manner. I could stop there but you need to know more no doubt.
 
Despite his French name and the fact that he taught and played at the Versailles court Robert de Visée was Portuguese-born and named Roberto de Viseu. He was a choirboy at the wonderful Gothic cathedral at Coimbra. He published his first music in 1682 with his Livre de Guitarra dedicated to King Louis XIV. In addition to playing the theorbo and working alongside Lully and Forqueray he sang in the court choir.
 
The performer on this CD Toyohiko Satoh has written the booklet notes in an amazingly imaginative and evocative manner. He openly admits, after inventively reconstructing Visée’s life that “it is all imagination and conjecture”. However it does seem that Visée retired from court life quite early and retraced his steps to the lute, or more precisely the French Lute. His music when not published can be found “in manuscripts compiled by his pupil Vaudry de Siazenay”. He became “the last great lutenist in France”. When looking at the paintings of Watteau (1684-1721) you can imagine without difficulty such elegant pieces as the longest one on the CD La Muzette Rondeau a memorable piece in compound time, prime for dancing. There are however some dances like the Allemande grave and the rather curious Gigue grave, which are surely meant to be listened to, quietly and reflectively, and certainly not danced although they are not necessarily very slow. You can’t even twiddle your thumbs to these pieces and certainly the rubato used by Satoh, if it’s an authentic approach - and I believe that it is - allows only an introspective atmosphere to permeate.
 
The seventeen tracks have been divided by key and also, quite cleverly, by mood and tempo contrasts as can be seen from the list above. To appreciate the music fully one must listen through, as it were, the ornamentation, which is prolific. Only in this way will you discover the beauty of the harmony and the direction of the elegant melodic lines.
 
The instrument Satoh plays is wonderfully warm, probably an early 17th Century Lorenz Grieff that has undergone some recent TLC. It had not been played for many years until Satoh had it restored. It has a wide dynamic range for its period and a deep consistency of tone that manifests itself especially in the slower movements like the Sarabande in the F sharp minor group and in the final Tombeau de Vieux Gallot Allemande

As well as the discussed essay the firmly attached booklet, which is in slim cardboard packaging, has several black and white photos of Toyohiko Satoh and the instrument in various close-ups.
 
Gary Higginson

Experience Classicsonline