With hardly any documents relating to his life having survived, very little is known about the French guitarist, theorbist, lutenist and composer Robert de Visée. In 1680 he was supposedly appointed to the court of Louis XIV – the so-called ‘Roi Soleil’ – where he was admired by his benefactors as well as the great musicians influential in Versailles (Lully and Couperin among them). He published three books for guitar during his lifetime, and the many contemporary manuscripts with his music written by amateurs, students and famous musicians are a sure testament to the popularity of his works.
This release is dedicated to a series of guitar pieces that almost all derive from one of his first two publications, Livre de Guittarre dédié au roi (1682) and Livre de Pièces pour la Guittarre (1686). The star of the show is undoubtedly the ‘Sabionari’ instrument used for the recording and hitherto untouched for almost 200 years: as one of only five extant Stradivari guitars, it is a magnificent example of the sort of instrument that we can expect this music to have been performed on, with its standard tuning perfectly suited to French music of this era. From the extraordinary sonority of the Suite ‘accord nouveau’, a rare example of scordatura which sees the guitar tuned a semitone lower, to the best-known D minor Suite, this instrument delights for its deeply resonant timbres and distinctive phrasing of the musical text.
Born in Mexico City, the prodigiously talented Krishnasol Jiménez – who also assisted in the restoration of the ‘Sabionari’ instrument – is the soloist on this release, his third for Brilliant Classics. The recording is a welcome addition to the label’s ever-growing catalogue of guitar music, and reveals just how much this instrument was enjoyed at the French royal court.
- This new recording (2012) features the magnificent “Sabionari” guitar, one of the few remaining guitars built in 1679 by the famous Antonio Stradivari.
- French composer Robert de Visee worked at the court of the Sung King Louis XIV in Versailles, and enjoyed international fame as performer and composer for guitar works.
- Guitarist Krishnasol Jimenez, winner of several international guitar competitions, assisted with the restoration of the guitar, wrote the informative liner notes and the fascinating story of the Sabionari instrument, and plays with deep insight in the style of the French baroque music.
- Contains notes on the music and the history of the Stradivari instrument.