Manuel Barrueco BACH & DE VISÉE

Robert de Visée The so-called 'baroque' guitar is a recognizable ancestor of today's classic instrument, but whereas the modern instrument has six single strings, the earlier one had five octave- or unison-tuned pairs of strings. These latter usually stood in some form of re-entrant tuning i.e. the lowest-placed strings were not always the lowest-pitched ones, and this produced ambiguous textures (which, if any, are the bass notes) that the modern guitar cannot imitate. At the same time it is possible to produce adaptations that are satisfactory in their musical effect, and the unidentified arranger of the items by Visee in this recording has done just that. Visee, court guitarist to Louis XIV of France, and one of the most refined composers of music for the five-course guitar (all those who composed for this idiosyncratic instrument also played it), left 12 suites of 'baroque' constitution, some clearly inviting the player to choose his movements (as Francois Couperin did in his ordres), as well as a number of other separate pieces. Suite No. 11 may be and here is played in its entirety. Lully was Visee's superior at court but the tribute paid in the arrangement of the Ouverture from Lully's ballet La grotte de Versailles was a sincere one. Barrueco delivers this ornament-encrusted music in magnificent style.
The items of Bach deserve no lesser encomium, for Barrueco is one of the most cultured guitarists on the present world stage. The annotator, Matthias Henke, bypassing the ambiguity of its inscription, avers that ''[BWV998] can be termed an original work for the lute'', a view not widely shared even by lutenists, who believe it to have been intended for the lute-harpsichord. Indeed, the scholar Eugen Dombois considers the allegro to be the least likely of the three movements to have been meant for the lute, but according to Henke ''[it] takes us entirely back into the world of the lute''. Fortunately, no such doubts attend the quality of Barrueco's performance of either this (probably assembled, rather than originally written in that form) triptych or BWV1004, borrowed from the violin and much in vogue with guitarists at the moment. However, few are likely to match the poise, style and comprehensive command that Barrueco brings to the music in this finely engineered recording, one of the best I have heard for a long time.' (Gramophone)

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