horizontal line

Robert de Visée, chordophonist to the ‘Sun King’, Louis XIV, was arguably the greatest composer for plucked instruments in the latter half of the 17th century. His works are filled with glorious and accessible melodies, interesting and sometimes surprising harmonies, and charming internal contrapuntalisms. They represent bitesize exponents of the French style of their period, expertly and creatively executed. With this knowledge in mind it is surprising that there are so few recordings of de Visée’s guitar works, early examples of de Visée’s considerable output (de Visée’s later works comprise of compositions for the theorbo and lute) that possess all of the qualities aforementioned.

I was potentially excited by this reissue of de Visée’s (almost) complete surviving guitar works, recorded by Rafael Andia in 1985–6. However, upon immediate listening, it was obvious that there were issues with these recordings. Andia’s playing is beautiful and stylish. However, the recording itself is too intimate, non-ambient, and compressed (resulting in a reduced dynamic range), and therefore more suited to its original medium of the LP. The tuning of Andia’s instrument can be quite problematic, some suites ringing more true than others. The instrument’s (speculatively) thick soundboard and synthetic stringing, combined with the production, make this a less pleasant listening experience, particularly with earphones.

Impressive performances, but with predominant instrument and production issues.

Richard MacKenzie Read the full review on Agora Classica

   Read full review   

To continue reading, please upgrade to a premium account. You will have immediate full access.

Read more classical music reviews online here:

Early Music Today, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing