« Miguel Serdoura, the new prince of the lute. » Ernst Van Bek, Classiquenews.com, 2011, France

Philadelphia Chamber Music Society: “The Lute of the Sun King." Pinel, Suite in F Major, Suite in D Minor; De Visée, Les Sylvains de M. Couperin, Suite in D Minor, Suite in A Minor. Miguel Yisrael, lute. March 7, 2014 at Benjamin Franklin Hall, American Philosophical Society, 427 Chestnut St., Philadelphia. 215-569-8080 or www.pcmsconcerts.org


Reviewed by Tom Purdom, March 13, 2014, Broadstreetreview.com
 
On this side of the Atlantic, French baroque The Chamber Music program presented an international lute star, Miguel Yisrael, playing music composed by the Sun King’s lute teachers. Germain Pinel taught Louis during the king’s childhood and adolescence. Robert de Visée taught him in his later years, from 1695 until Louis died in 1715 at 77.
 
Yisrael’s lute held his audience from the first note to the last, even though he was playing one of the most refined instruments ever devised and offering his listeners the kind of music an accomplished aristocrat would have played in his private chambers for his own pleasure. Yisrael maintained interest and variety because he never forgets that most movements in Baroque suites are based on dances. When he played a slow sarabande movement, Yisrael gave it a strong beat that stressed the rhythmic pattern. When he played the moderate, rather foursquare Allemande, he took it a little faster than it’s usually played and spiced it with a dash of engaging liveliness. The opening notes of de Visée’s arrangement of Couperin’s Les Sylvains sounded like a cheerful march.
 
Musicologists can offer you solid technical descriptions of French Baroque style. For me, its essence is a combination of elegance and pleasure — tasteful, beautifully crafted music that satisfies our appetite for color, rhythm, and melody. Add a touch of English sturdiness or German force and you can see how the splendors of the Sun King mutated into the glories of Handel, Purcell, and Bach.

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