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Xavier Diaz – Latorre : Robert De Visee – Pieces pour Theorbe and Guitare : CD

ROBERT DE VISEE: Pieces de Theorbe - Suite in Am; Pieces pour la Guitare in Dm; Pieces de Theorbe Suite in D Major; Pieces pour la Guitare in Bm; Pieces pour Theorbe Suite in Cm; Pieces pour Theorbe Suite in G Major.

Xavier Diaz Latorre (14 course Theorbo and 5 course Guitar)

Passacaille 1038

The sound world of this CD is very varied, from the huge and deeply resonant world of the Theorbo, to the small and yet very endearing sound of the 5 course Baroque guitar. Our player has chosen a fine variety of mixed pieces which is immediately great for the listener as there is no danger of getting bored by the same sound throughout, if that were indeed possible anyway.

Robert de Visee’s music is more often than not found arranged for classical guitar nowadays, so it is lovely to hear it in its original guise. He plays the extremely difficult Theorbo as if no effort were actually involved and the five – course guitar also, which is , for those listeners who may not have heard this instrument before, quite a different sound from our modern classical.

The recording opens with the 6 movements from the Theorbo Suite in Am, a brief Prelude, an Allemande called La Royalle, Courante, Sarabande, a surprising piece titled Masquerade, and closing with a Chaconne.

Then the instruments swap over and we are treated to the 10 movements of the Guitar Suite in D minor, several movements of which will be known to guitarists who remember the Karl Scheit, Universal Edition of some of these pieces from decades ago (as I do, as some of them were then part of the Trinity College Guitar Exams).Again these are fine performances that really bring out the music in the best of ways.

We then return to the Theorbo for the five movements of the Suite in D Major in the text book arrangement of Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande and Gigue, another set of fine performances of very rich pieces.

The guitar suite of pieces in Bm, that numbers five again has as is often the case with the Baroque guitar many places where strumming of the music is the standard way to play the chords. This time the final movement is a Passacaille.

The rest of the CD is devoted to the Theorbo, firstly in a Suite of pieces in Cm, the most remarkable of which is the second movement La Plainte ou Tombeau de Mesdesmoiselles De Visee, Allemande de Mr.Leur Pere, which sounds every bit as tragic as the title implies. There are four other movements in this suite, again following the standard pattern as the Suite in D Major, above.

The final work is two movement s only of a Suite in G Major, Muzette and Chaconne, the first of which has a dancing rhythm that unlike a lot of the pieces here sounds optimistic and cheerful, not emotions that often sit in a De Visee piece. The final Chaconne is a lengthy 7 + minutes and again has a driving rhythm that finishes the album off superbly.

The recordings and the performances are wonderful and if there is a criticism, it is only that a lot of the music (as I said before) can sound very sad and mournful for much of the time, and that may possibly mean that some listeners will want to dodge in and out of the CD rather than play it fully all the time, but that is fine, because other than that the entire experience of this De Visee set is very good indeed.

Chris Dumigan

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