In this wonderful solo album, Norwegian early music performer Rolf Lislevand turns his attention to the music of two composers from the court of Louis XIV: Robert de Visée (c. 1655-1732) and the Italian-born Francesco Corbetta (c. 1615-1681), and plays their masterpieces with historical awareness and an inventiveness which belongs to the tradition. De Visée wrote about playing what the instruments themselves called for, advice Lislevand takes to heart, adding improvised introductions to passacaglias from both composers. He uses two contrasting instruments here, the small Baroque guitar with its sparkling, crystal-clear sonorities and the theorbo, the dark-toned and earthy king of the lutes.
In this wonderful solo album, Norwegian early music performer Rolf Lislevand turns his attention to the music of two composers from the court of Louis XIV: Robert de Visée (c. 1655-1732) and the Italian-born Francesco Corbetta (c. 1615-1681), and plays their masterpieces with historical awareness and an inventiveness which belongs to the tradition.
The Vivaldi Concerto for mandolin and orchestra, RV 425, was an essential component of the 1970s classical LP collection – with the mandolin amped up so loud in order to compete with a large orchestral string section that it sounded like an electric guitar blazing through an arena rock concert. Things have improved a bit since then, but balance between soloists and ensemble has always been a problem with the works featured on this release. The problem has rarely been solved so nicely as it is here. The group of string players used, a fine pan-European set of historical-performance specialists, is not especially small, and lutenist/guitarist/mandolinist Rolf Lislevand is elegant and clean but not arresting on his own. The key is how the whole ensemble works together to bring out the solos, sensitively shaping lines while keeping dynamic levels low enough to set off the soloists – and, in trio-sonata works, defining the relationships among the soloists themselves…
Background: Following his highly successful ECM debut with Nuove Musiche in 2006, the new CD by Norwegian lutenist Rolf Lislevand and his group of international early music virtuosi is an album of melodic beauty and rhythmic energy that transcends the genres and is likely to appeal to listeners from different backgrounds including early music, jazz and ethnic music.
This album, originally recorded in 1992, was remastered in 2008 and issued as part of the Heritage series of Jordi Savall's Alia Vox label in a nifty combination of reissue and improvement. The album certainly qualifies as one of the greatest hits of Savall (whose role here is as gambist, with a small ensemble of northern European players ) and his wife, soprano Montserrat Figueras, who is the star of the show. Figueras' vocals are as usual a central attraction, with their incredible combination of suppleness, accuracy over a wide range, expression, and Iberian gutsiness. But the program here, though somewhat removed from the Iberian core of the Figueras/Savall repertory, is equally compelling.
This album gathers highlights from Montserrat Figueras career for the Astrée, DHM, EMI and Alia Vox labels. 5 of the 35 tracks have already been reissued in a portrait album released in the 1990s by Astrée, La 'Voix de l Emotion'. Jordi Savall wanted to keep the same title for this much more comprehensive double album, in tribute to the late Montserrat Figueras, his wife and collaborator of 43 years. 35 year-career: 35 tracks a dazzlingly clear soprano voice, a line of the purest silk, as strong as it was delicate.
Over a period of five years, Swiss directors Norbert Wiedmer and Peter Guyer documented the activity of legendary producer Manfred Eicher, the founder and driving force behind ECM Records, whose advocacy of progressive jazz and of classical composers like Arvo Pärt, Meredith Monk, Valentin Silvestrov, and György Kurtág changed the landscape of contemporary music in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The film Sounds and Silence: Travels with Manfred Eicher was released in 2009 and this 2011 soundtrack album is made up largely of tracks taken from previously released ECM albums that Eicher produced, some from as early as 1980. Most of the pieces are low-key and understated and feature chamber ensembles, although there are several piano tracks and several featuring orchestra or chorus. The album has a mix of selections from ECM's classical and jazz repertoire, and from the label's specialty, the many pieces that lie somewhere in between the two.
In the winter of 2012/13, the Haus der Kunst in Munich – one of Europe’s most important museums for contemporary art – hosted the exhibition ECM – A Cultural Archaeology. The goal of curators Okwui Enwezor and Markus Müller was to show the range of the label’s artistic endeavours in music, graphic art, and photography and its creative interchanges with film, theatre and literature. For this exhibition, Manfred Eicher and Steve Lake created this box-set accentuating directions in ECM's rich musical history. Many themes and streams are touched upon here including the range of composition in the New Series, music for and from films, imaginative historical reconstructions, trans-cultural music, ambient minimalism, and jazz and improvisation of many hues, in a collection with a playing time of more than seven hours.