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Classical - Released May 20, 2016 | ECM New Series

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - Exceptional Sound Recording - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
The Norwegian early music lutenist and guitarist Rolf Lislevand has pooh-poohed the idea of historical authenticity, but it may be that the lovely program here would have appealed to listeners in the court of Louis XIV, for which the music was intended. Lislevand examines pieces by a pair of late 17th century composers, Robert de Visée (a rondeau by whom, plus some rather murky booklet ruminations by Lislevand, give the album its title) and the sparsely heard Francesco Corbetta, choosing slow, quasi-improvisatory pieces and dances -- preludes, chaconnes, sarabandes, passacaglias -- from each, and adding some improvised introductions. The music alternates between a very deep-voiced, many-stringed theorbo and a small, crystalline Baroque guitar. The result is an extremely reflective concert, dividing up a common stock of musical ideas in several subtle ways, that, as Lislevand points out, would have been played for a small group of connoisseurs in its own time. ECM producer Manfred Eicher is nonpareil as a recorder of music like this, but here, working in the Auditorio Stelio Molo in Lugano, he outdoes himself, evoking the "musica callada," the music that has fallen silent, of Mompou. He draws the listener into a rich communion with a remarkable player. © TiVo

Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | Alia Vox

Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - 9 de Classica-Répertoire

Concertos - Released January 30, 2007 | naïve classique

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. Especially attractive here are the two comparatively rare concertos and two trio sonatas that involve both lute and violin or viola d'amore (the final concerto, RV 93, is for two violins, lute, and continuo). Setting a sharp boundary between the realms of the plucked instruments and the bowed strings here is a real challenge. In a way, it's harder for the mandolin or lute to stand up to a single violin than to a whole group of them. But Lislevand and his cohorts bring it off in very carefully controlled environments in which the lute or mandolin is a full participant in the dialogue, a graceful dancer to the singing violin. Superb sound engineering from a Swiss studio also counts as part of the success of the performance; the temptation to use the resonance of a church to amplify the plucked instruments has wisely been resisted. This is a good addition to any Vivaldi concerto library and a very pleasant set of pieces for anyone who likes the mandolin or lute. © TiVo

Chamber Music - Released January 1, 1993 | naïve classique


Classical - Released June 15, 2018 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet
Far from trying to reproduce the sound atmospheres that could have existed (or not…) three centuries ago, the Concerto Stella Matutina ensemble and lutenist Rolf Lislevand have chosen to make use of the thousands of possibilities offered by a recording studio, mixing and microphones to build a set of unique sounds, probably non reproducible, but whose beauty precisely goes through the rebalancing of the various instruments. Incidentally, they don’t hesitate to painstakingly “arrange” some partitions from the Renaissance, like for example this Spagna from Francesco di Milano, revised and jazzified by Tomasz Stańko—and this with ancient instruments for the most part, a singular blend of genres and time periods. You can like or not these few Baroque/Renaissance/jazz blends, but the result is no less intriguing, and extraordinarily well-performed. But then in these ancient time, was it not the custom to systematically bring back to fashion all the musical works from bygone eras? Just see in this principle an extreme prolongation of the Baroque custom… © SM/Qobuz

Classical - Released March 10, 2006 | ECM New Series

Rolf Lislevand is a lutenist and guitarist; a professor of lute and historical performance practice in Trossingen, Germany. The reason for mentioning the academic credentials is because Nuove Musiche is anything but an "academic" recording. Quite the contrary. on this offering, Lislevand (a former member of Jordi Savall's Hyperion XX), and his septet "say goodbye once and for all to the authenticity creed." They know the rules, they understand the music inside and out, and they refuse to believe that the only way to perform it is the way it was supposedly heard nearly half-a-century ago. The rules are not broken so much as they are extrapolated upon by the often sketchy nature of the original scores. Lislevand believes that to try to perfectly replicate a performance from centuries ago is boring and perhaps a conceit -- because this approach tries to erase all that we have learned about music from hearing it in the interim between then and now. His opinion would mean nothing if the music found here wasn't so utterly seductive, compelling, and quietly moving, and he and his band didn't perform with such authority, elegance, grace, and adventure. To think that it's possible to make something from Baroque era sound so contemporary without pillaging the original music, to take it out of the academy and the institution and bring it to the level of the modern sensibility without selling out the composer is a small marvel. But Lislevand does it all through the 52 minutes of Nuove Musiche. Other instruments in the ensemble are triple harp and voice (both courtesy of Arianna Savall) percussion (used then, but it was never scored), double bass and colascione, organ, and clavichord, the nykelharpa, and the 12-string chitarra battente (a Baroque "strumming" or "beating" guitar). The album was beautifully produced by ECM head Manfred Eicher. The sound here is full and warm, the playing quietly and deliberately passionate. Source material comes from composers such as Kapsberger, Pellegrini, Piccini, and Frescobaldi, among others. The delivery center for most of these pieces begins is the passacaglia. According to Lislevand, these formed the heart of the 17th century lute and guitar books. His group brings sharp rhythmic interplay and inventive chromaticism into the mix with slightly angular dissonances that increase tension, but also bring the music its sense of drama, life, sensuality, and even the hint of danger in places. What happens is that the mystery and subtleties and poetry in these works come to life. That period in history remains at the music's heart, but its bloodline is renewed with these performances. Nuove Musiche is not to be missed; there is something in it for everyone. It is simply unlike anything we have heard before. © Thom Jurek /TiVo

Classical - Released January 1, 2000 | naïve classique


Classical - Released January 1, 1997 | naïve classique


Classical - Released January 1, 1996 | naïve classique


Classical - Released June 17, 2003 | naïve