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De Visee / Satoh

De Visee / Satoh,Toyohiko
Release Date: 04/30/2013 
Label:  Carpe Diem   Catalog #: 16296   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Robert de Visée
Performer:  Toyohiko Satoh
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

LUTE MUSIC OF ROBERT DE VISÉE Toyohiko Satoh (lt) CARPE DIEM 16296 (65: 40)

We know very little of the life of Robert de Visée (c.1650–c.1725). He was born in Viseu, a small town in Portugal about 80 kilometers northeast of Coimbra. His original surname is unknown; by the time he was studying music at the university in Coimbra, he was simply called Robert de Viseu after his birthplace. Some time afterward he left for Paris, where he studied guitar with the Italian expatriate virtuoso Francesco Corbetta (c.1615–1681) and Read more later the viol with Antoine Forqueray (1671–1745), and his name assumed the French form by which he is known today. He also joined the choir of the court of Louis XIV and published two sets of suites for guitar, the Livre de guitare dédié au roi in 1682 and the Livre de pièces pour la guitare in 1686. These were followed 28 years later by a third and final collection, the Pièces de théorbe et de luth mises en partition dessus et basse , published in 1716 under royal license. Additional unpublished works are preserved in the Saizenay Manuscript, compiled by one of his pupils, Jean Etienne Vaudry, Seigneur de Saizenay (1668–1742). In 1709 de Visée was appointed singer to the royal chamber, and in 1719 official guitar tutor to Louis XV. However, in 1721 he resigned the latter position in favor of his son François (he is also known to have had at least two daughters, who predeceased him) and retired back to Viseu. His actual date of death is unknown, being placed anywhere from 1725 to 1732.

All 17 selections on this disc are taken from the Saizenay Manuscript. While the booklet notes in the cardboard digipak are silent on the matter, I assume that lutenist Toyohiko Satoh himself did whatever editing may have been needed to perform them. For this recording, he uses a lute made in about 1610 by Lorenz (Laurentius) Greiff. It was probably originally constructed as an 8- or 10-course lute, and then adapted in 1673 to be an 11-course French lute. The instrument was restored to playable condition about 20 years ago and refurbished in 2012. Most of the pieces played here are short dance movements—allemandes, courantes, gigues, and sarabandes, plus two tombeaus—lasting two to five minutes. The one exception is the more ambitious “La Musette Rondeau,” which times out at 11:36. De Visée’s music is not particularly complex, and is uniformly quiet and introspective in character. The first time I listened through the disc, I found it a little monotonous, but on second and subsequent hearings I found myself drawn into its intimate atmosphere. This is not a disc for either casual background mood-setting or intensively concentrated listening; instead, it is for when one desires to enter into a time and space of private, calm contemplation and reflection.

Counting this new release, there are at present only about six discs in print devoted entirely to the music of de Visée. All the others feature guitar or theorbo, making this the only readily available alternative for those wishing to hear de Visée’s music on the lute. As one would expect, veteran baroque lutenist Toyohiko Satoh is a masterful exponent of this music, and the instrument on which he performs has a beautifully deep, rich sound. One cautionary note: While the recording was made inside the Church of St. Mary in Schönemoor, one can sometimes hear (see especially track 14) birds from outside chirping in the background. Some folks might find this distracting, but I found that it actually fit with and even enhanced the music perfectly. The booklet notes are provided in English, German, French, and Japanese, and are illustrated with several interesting photos. Recommend both to lute music enthusiasts, and to those seeking an aural refuge from the turmoil of daily life.

FANFARE: James A. Altena
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Works on This Recording

Suite in D major by Robert de Visée
Performer:  Toyohiko Satoh (Lute)
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Chaconne in G major by Robert de Visée
Performer:  Toyohiko Satoh (Lute)
Suite in C minor by Robert de Visée
Performer:  Toyohiko Satoh (Lute)
Musette en rondeau by Robert de Visée
Performer:  Toyohiko Satoh (Lute)
Written: 1714 
Suite in F sharp major by Robert de Visée
Performer:  Toyohiko Satoh (Lute)
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Suite in A major by Robert de Visée
Performer:  Toyohiko Satoh (Lute)
Period: Baroque 
Suite in A minor by Robert de Visée
Performer:  Toyohiko Satoh (Lute)
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 

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