#Review of La Mascarade by Rolf Lislevand, ECM, 2016 on #neuguitars #blog


Review of La Mascarade by Rolf Lislevand, ECM, 2016

Maestro Rolf Lislevand has a great, unique, terrible flaw: he makes us wait too long. His last Diminuito work for ECM is dated 2009, seven years is a long time, very long for those who loves his sublime and noble art. At the same time it is true that Lislevand knows how to immediately be forgiven, just a few, very few notes of the Prelude in ré mineur by Rober De Visée, the song that opens this beautiful and essential cd, to make the waiting and the desire disappear, and bring up the pure pleasure and satisfaction that listening to music always give to his listeners. Our waiting was rewarded with a blessed record, released by ECM label, a solo for virtuoso baroque guitar and theorbo by two Francesco Corbetta and Robert De Visée

“There is something fascinating about proportions, how in the intimate music of theorbo or guitar of the seventeenth century may be found the same architectural ratios as in the Versailles palace and its gardens, a complete universe in the one case of sound, in the other of space.” 1

Graham Wade wrote in his book A Concise History of the Classic Guitar about Francesco Carretta: ”…one of the masters better known (at least among modern guitarists), is Francesco Corbetta. His genius advanced the instrument in its range of imaginative compositions and in the skillful notation of various guitar techniques.” And about Robert De Visée, who studied with Corbetta; “ De Visée was undoubtedly the greatest French guitarist of the 17th century. His music has been described as ‘a viable continuation of past achievements and a logical step in a new direction,’ as he ‘took much from the style of Corbetta without ever duplicating any of his pieces’”.3

“I realized how a very few notes could be a gesture more gracious than any movement of a human body, more figurative than a whole landscape in a painting, and more articulate the the most perfect poetry.” 1

Lislevand is a superb performer, a true champion, a true genius gifted by an incredible musical sensitivity and deep artistic intelligence. His technical virtuosity is always and exclusively to the service of music, his performances are not strictly philological compliances but are a hymn to the intelligence and artistic creativity and his interpretations are so interesting as modern in their incredible topicality. This music is peace for the mind and food for thought. In all this Lislevand, however, is not alone: recording quality is simply excellent and the ECM was able to get two results. The first one is to be able to give us, thanks to the quality of the study of the Italian Switzerland Radio in Lugano and the sound engineer Stefano Amerio a sound that combines cleaning, colors and a tone so balanced as rich in nuances and veining, the second afford to recognize those who has already listened to this German label’s record its famous reverb, his trademark that here is perfectly balanced with the result of putting more in evidence the magnificent sound of Lislevand’s instruments and giving them a right depth and a sense of spatial perspective

“I realized that a piece of the seventeenth century Baroque music is a speech to be understood, whereas later Classical and Romantic music consists of paintings to be perceived emotionally.” 1

It seems fair to me to conclude these thoughts, quoting Craig H. Russel in the book The Cambridge Companion to the Guitar: “The sound qualities of the baroque guitar and classical guitar are worlds apart: the classical guitar is imposing and resonant; the baroque guitar is introspective and delicate.” 4
Excellent record. Excellent artist. Excellent recording.

1 Rolf Lislevand on the cd’s booklet
2 Graham Wade, A Concise History of the Classic Guitar, Mel Bay Publications, 2001 pag. 40
3 Graham Wade, A Concise History of the Classic Guitar, Mel Bay Publications, 2001 pag. 46
4 Victor Anand Coelho, The Cambridge Companion to the Guitar, Cambridge University Press, 2003 pag. 158