Notes & Reviews:
This release showcases the lute music of two French composers, Germain Pinel and Robert de Visée, both of whom have long been overshadowed by the more renowned figures of Jean-Baptiste Lully and François Couperin. Pinel and De Visée were active not long after the role of the lute underwent a profound change in France: towards the end of the 16th century, following a decline in the popularity of polyphonic song, the instrument was no longer used to support vocal music, and short suites of dances began to develop for lute solo. The lute was a delicate instrument reserved for small audiences, a court instrument relished by the aristocracy and wealthy bourgeoisie for the intimate concerts of the Parisian salons, and a domestic instrument par excellence. It accompanied all the activities of everyday life. Both Pinel and De Visée were in the service of Louis XIV, who inherited a great musical - and in particular lute-playing - tradition encouraged by his father and grandfather, and both musicians cultivated the new forms that had recently emerged for the instrument. The suites recorded here provide extraordinary variety: beautiful and sombre allemandes, courtly sarabandes and spritely gigues characterise the music, which is closely associated with the lavish reign of the 'sun king': the extravagance of his expanding palace at Versailles and the opulence of his elegant lifestyle is epitomised in the stylish music that serenaded his court. Indeed, these works represent music at the height of the grand siècle: France's period of political and cultural dominance. Having studied at the Paris Conservatoire and with renowned lutenist Hopkinson Smith in Basel, Portuguese-born Miguel Yisrael has gone on to specialise in music of the French Baroque period; the author of, among others, a new series of scores for the Baroque lute called La Rhétorique des Dieux, he is well placed to record the music of Pinel and De Visée. This recording marks his fourth release on the Brilliant Classics label, with two of his previous releases acclaimed in Diapason magazine, where he was described as "an interpreter to be followed closely". Other information: Recorded in 2014. Booklet includes comprehensive liner notes and an artist biography. French liner notes available online.
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