CD event. The Kings of Versailles. Miguel Serdoura, lute. Suites of Robert de Visée, Germain Pinel (1 cd Brilliants classics, 2014). Reward : CLIC from Cassiquenews, January 2015. By Camille Joyeuse. Translation : Sandy Hackney.
The style of Louis XIV was sumptuous and solemn, majestic and almost declamatory (without however being pompous: this is the mythical balance of a Lully), while his father, Louis XIII, inventor of the Versailles myth, was reserved, introspective and secret. Without decorative effects or the temptation of narcissistic exhibition, the lute player Miguel SERDOURA confirms here his amazing mastery of the instrument with which he knows how to explore every expressive nuance with a convincing style and modesty. The performer combines the already known De Visée, with several Suites signed Germain Pinel, a true poet and alchemist whose sensitivity as virtuoso still astonishes by his sense of economy and intensity. This remarkable saturnian program inspired by the melancholy Louis XII, begins with the first of two Suites of Robert de Visée (circa 1665-1733): hymn and hommage to the deceased « Tombeau de Tonty »: Allemande (track 1) of a melancholic and elegant « depression » whose allusive finesse is exemplarily portrayed: eloquent, precise and clear, the realization of our lutenist amazes by his accuracy and his constant modesty. It is a melancholy and deep poison that embraces and cradles the heart.
More alert and lively, the Gavotte which follows (track 2) allow us to recover our spirit. Superbly presented – and our favorite sequence, La Montfermeil: rondeau (track 3) not only captivates: it confirms an exceptional talent for allusion and poetic accuracy. For Classiquenews, Miguel SERDOURA is the prince of the lute, an artist able to show himself in control of the most demanding of all instruments : always offering a variation of accents, and signs of constant agogic richness that reveal the great dynamic control of the performer. How can one not think rhetoric, the outpouring of the extraordinarily flamboyant palette of sounds produced by the plucked strings, and the underlying sensuality that tempers the false austerity of a rediscovered Pinel.
Le Tombeaux du Vieux Gallot (another Allemande even more rich and astounding ) is a return to the suggestive delicateness of the beginning: the Tombeaux de Tonty which succeeds Gallot marks just as much the same spirit through its evanescence, modesty in half words, also developed in duration, of extreme languor and here again the delicacy of the performer captivates by its sense of the allusion between withdrawal of the mourning and the liveliness of the memory aroused as a portrait of the honored deceased. Bases are sumptuously sounded and produced according to a tactus in harmony with breathing.
Allusive and introspective, accurate and poetic, Miguel SERDOURA has not forgotten to provide the incredible nonchalance, the more relaxed extravagance of the Chaconnes du Grand Siècle, an art which excels in the model among all of Lully and his followers, and also De Visée and especially, as we shall see further on, Pinel. The Chaconne from track 5 is another accomplishment, between determination, swing, suspension, port and tension, supreme realization between do and let it do… flexibility of the playing, veiled ductility, infinitely melancholic, of style, that leaves us speechless.
The interest of the new disc of Miguel SERDOURA is not so much to assert the inspiration of De Visée as a lute composer but to emphasize here the deep breath of an absolute master, his predecessor Germain Pinel (circa 1600-1661), a true musical myth which Miguel Serdoura renders in his absolute uniqueness.The lutenist offer us literally a gift by playing alongside the best-known Suite in D minor, the two unpublished Suites in F major and G minor, of allusive and complex delicacy. Here, the incredible maturity of the musician join Pinel’s deeply French writing, refined and natural, irresistibly charming. Less developed, more essential and secret, the art of Pinel in miniatures of less then 3, 2 or even 1 minute, express each feeling with unparalleled depth. SERDOURA’s mastery of the lute fascinates again after a « Entrée de luth » (track 6) almost ghost-like, by an consumed dance like art and choreographic understatement: the Allemande (track 7) is quiet, peaceful and almost without tension or threat. More delicate because of a development less obvious, the Courante (track 8) surprises however by its structural concision and its fugacity which requires the lutenist’s absolute mastery even in the short duration of the piece.
The Sarabande (track 9), a world premiere, is one of the most developed sequences of the Suite: infinite languor, suspended over time with the power of resurrected evocation of the feeling we believed buried and gone. The strength of the lute is equal to this power, this violence of reiteration: Miguel SERDOURA is at this level, a master of the lute that remains unique to this day. To the languor of the earlier Sarabande, Pinel also adds to the Branle des Frondeurs (track 10) a renewed fluidity and suspended poetical drunkenness which radiates a hypnotic balancing, essentially choreographic: letting go doubles once again as a very elegant determination, emblem of a decidedly unique interpreter.
The conclusion of the Suite, Gigue (track 11) seems to release all the tension previously balanced, contained, as muzzled by the framework? This Suite in D minor is the pearl of the program: it focuses the essence of the saturnine thought, not demonstrative, of Pinel, so close to that of his brother in painting, the future Watteau (of the next generation).
Another magnificent accomplishment is the Suite in F major, also a world premiere recording. The Prelude (track 12) states an extreme sweetness: the very smooth and flexible eloquent Courante (track 14), is beautifully set out but subjugated by his extremely elegant nimbleness. It has the same sense of ecstasy and accomplishment for the Sarabande (track 15), yet more noble and majestic and also of exquisite tenderness. The final Double (track 17) seduces by his sovereign agility where the extreme virtuosity and agogic flexibility do wonders.
Miguel SERDOURA unveils the lute of Louis XIII
Allusive modesty, miracle of languorous poetry
De Visée seems almost too obvious and too clear compared to the more troubled and ambivalent complexity of Pinel. That is why the latest Suite of Pinel (in D minor), also a world premiere recording, is another major contribution of this finely defined program: it is even more flowing, more natural, of a concise and refined fluid in which the play of subtleties of Miguel SERDOURA renders its amazing vibrations, the science of Interior colors, and a sense of astonishing progression which does not make any sacrifices to an expected formal frame. The Allemande cradles by its tenderness and its often surprising harmonic passages. It is also the most extended movement (3 min 24, track 24). The playing seems to follow, close to improvisation, the mysterious meanderings of the human soul. Very reserved and chaste until its conclusion, the Courante (track 25) is equally strong despite its fleetingness with its refined articulation. To what « Sçavante » (scholar) was intended this Sarabande of great sustain and superior intelligence (track 26)? The tone is that of a new serenity as a renunciation in the form of accomplishment.
Between restraint and languor, mystery and enigma, Miguel SERDOURA has definitely distinguished himself. Finally the last Chaconne (track 27), and the longest (3 mn) marvels as a balancing intoxication, folding, as its progress, its enigmatic dress, tightened in a final mystery. The maturity of the playing, its finesse and suggestive intelligence are the miracle of this enchanting disc: it is an incredible tribute to the great lutenists of early 17th century France. Thus the lute is reborn from the ashes: while so many theorbists and guitarists cultivate facility, Miguel SERDOURA stubbornly persists with grace and elegance on the lute (here an 11 course baroque lute). Mirror of a taciturn and lonely King with exquisite taste, the lute is as indicated in the title of the cd of Miguel SERDOURA, the true King of Versailles. The interpreter has not only put forth here his best record: he is also at the pivot of his career, a stepping stone for him to cross into a new international adventure where the lute has more than ever its place (read our exclusive interview with the lute player Miguel SERDOURA). For rehabilitation and the rediscovery of the art of playing the lute, no doubt: this superlative recording will count. A landmark for the resurrection of the lute?
CE review. Miguel SERDOURA, lute. The Kings of Versailles: Robert de Visée, Germain Pinel : Suites for lute. 1 cd Brilliants classics, December 2014. Recorded in June 2014 (Cessigny, France). LIRE la critique originale française par Camille de Joyeuse.