les rois de versailles

PRE-ORDER YOUR CD NOW ! DELIVERED WORLDWIDE - OCTOBER 2014 !  Germain Pinel & Robert De Visée. [Release date : December 2014]


COMPOSER: Germain Pinel (c. 1600 - 1664), Robert De Visée (c. 1650-1665 - after 1732)

RELEASE DATE: December 2014

FORMAT: 1 CD Jewelcase

CAT. NUMBER: ......

EAN CODE: ....................

11C BAROQUE LUTE: Miguel Yisrael


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about this release

In 1589, a month before he became king of France, Henry IV spent a few days in the seigneury of Versailles. Fifteen years later, he returned and stayed there on several occasions. In 1607, Louis XIII, after he became six years old, accompanied his father, on his first hunting trip there, became very attached to the place. In 1623, once king, he had a modest hunting lodge built there on top of a knoll surrounded by marshes. Between 1631 and 1634, he had this residence rebuilt by Philibert Le Roy, a small slate roofed stone and brick chateau. This is the U-shaped construction which still today surrounds the courtyard paved with marble (la cour de marbre) of the present Château de Versailles.

Suffering from agoraphobia, Louis XIII was looking for a spiritual retreat. In his residence at Versailles, Louis, known as Louis the Just, occasionally received his mother Marie de Medici and his wife Anne d’Autriche; but they merely visited, as the chateau had no ladies’ quarters. The Chateau de Versailles was a refuge for Louis XIII where he could escape there the pressures of the court, and indulge in his only two passions: hunting and music. Louis was himself a musician and was an accomplished lute player; he « sometimes gave private concerts where only good musicians were admitted, but no women, whom he considered too talkative and insufficiently attentive. Apart from the professional musicians, the twenty four violins of the King’s chamber, M. de Mortemar and M. de Schomberg, both excellent lute players were admitted ». That Louis XIII had invited some of the best French musicians to Versailles including lute players now seems a generally accepted historic fact.

At the beginning of the Grand Siècle, the attachment that Louis XIII felt for his little Chateau at Versailles was the prelude to the glorious destiny of Versailles. The guitar gradually found its place in the court of France after Louis XIII had married Anne d’Autriche, a Spanish princess. When they were both only 14 years old, the wedding night seems to have gone badly, and the king took little interest in the queen for several years. As she hardly spoke any French, she surrounded herself with a court that was a continuation of her childhood. Spanish guitarists accompanied her as she changed residences from the Louvre to Fontainebleau or to the Chateau of Saint-Germain-en- Laye, which was her favorite residence. Indeed it was there that her son Louis Dieudonné was born in 1638. In 1643, at the death of Louis XIII, Louis Dieudonné, then aged four and half, became king and was named Louis XIV. After he almost died from smallpox in 1647, the young Louis miraculously recovered. It was then that it was decided that he should be taught the lute. Germain Pinel was « the lute player chosen to teach His Majesty ». The king, Louis XIV, who was then 9 years old, studied the lute with him, more or less assiduously, until he reached the age of 18.

Nicknamed the « king of instruments », the lute was commonly played at the court of Henry IV and then at that of Louis XIII. Jean Héroard, the doctor charged with constantly looking after the young Louis, the future Louis XIII, from the hour of his birth, provides us with numerous anecdotes that show the importance of this instrument in the private lives of the kings of France. Thus, Jean Héroard tells us that one of the little prince’s first toys was a lute. At three years of age, in 1604, « he asks for his lute, brings it at ten o’clock to the Queen to show her how well he can play it ».

From her childhood in Florence, Marie de Medici played the lute and when she became queen of France, she had lutenists constantly among her close followers. From her childhood in Florence, Marie de Medici played the lute and when she became queen of France, she had lutenists constantly among her close followers. Robert Ballard, thanks to the perfection of his art, was her personal lute master; indeed, he published a lute book dedicated « to the queen regent ». Jean Mesnager and René Saman around 1619, were lutenists at the King’s chamber (chambre du Roi). The most famous lute player and composer at the court was Ennemond Gaultier, often referred to as M. Gaultier de Lyon or le vieux Gaultier. It was Ennemond Gaultier who was then chosen to teach the lute to the young queen, Anne d’Autriche, who until that moment had only played the guitar, a typically Spanish instrument.

At that time, Gaultier was well known at the court through his masterful skill with the lute. Along with another Master of the Lute, Henri de L’Enclos (the father of Anne de L’Enclos, known as Ninon de L’Enclos, a child prodigy at the lute who later became a woman of letters), they both gave lessons to Marie de Medici who wanted to relearn how to play the lute; and as the influence of fashion would have it, all high ranking persons also wanted to play the instrument. Gédéon Tallemant des Réaux reported « She had played a little a few years ago. Hardly had she taken Gaultier into her entourage, than everyone began playing the lute. Even the Cardinal was learning it, and it was the most ridiculous thing one could imagine to see him take lessons from Gaultier ». Following this, Gabriel Bataille, the father, and then the son, one after the other, became Masters of the Music to Queen Anne d’Autriche.
Being able to play the lute was a guarantee of success in the eyes of the great of that world. At the end of the 19th century, the musicologist Marie Bobillier writes that « It is to stand out in some way that the Count of Fiesque, in spite of rather mediocre musical talents, began to study singing and theorbo playing which caused him infinite suffering. It is to flatter Anne d’Autriche that all the people of the court, beginning with the most powerful of the realm, the cardinal de Richelieu, wanted to play the lute ». Indeed, she tells us that « women in particular, all prided themselves in their knowing tablatures, and how to play this fashionable instrument at least a little, or if not to cherish and admire it ». It was in the Parisian salons run by high society women such as Mme de Rambouillet, Mlle de Scudéry, Mme de la Sablière or the beautiful Mme Scarron (who thirty years later secretly married Louis XIV and became Mme de Maintenon) that the preciosity movement was born. Seeking extreme refinement in deportment, in ideas and language, the Précieuses delighted in subtlety of thought and language, intellectual games and discourse on love. These society salons were also musical gatherings, and as in the courts of Marie de Medici and of Anne d’Autriche, the desire to rise above the ordinary found expression in the lute. The skills of Ninon de L’Enclos, made her famous, while still a child. Mademoiselle Paulet distinguished herself through her singing which she accompanied on h!er lute. Charles Mouton, whose compositions marked the zenith of the French lute, was frequently invited to play at the Scarron’s.

further information

  • New recordings made in June 2014
  • Includes booklet notes in English and French
  • A new fascinating concept by acclaimed lutenist Miguel Yisrael, who received highest praise (Diapason d'Or in France) for his earlier innovative programs: Les Baricades Mistérieuses (BC 93701) ; The Court of Bayreuth (BC 94026) and Austria 1676 (94331)


Robert De Visée (c. 1650-1665 - after 1732)

Suite in A Minor: Le Tombeau de Tonty, Allemande * - 04:48
Suite in A Minor: II. Gavotte - 01:00
Suite in A Minor: III. La Montfermeil, Rondeau - 01:38
Suite in A Minor: IV. Tombeau du Vieux Gallot, Allemande - 04:32
Suite in A Minor: V. Chaconne - 02:40

Germain Pinel (c. 1600 - 1664) *

Suite in D Minor: I. Entrée de luth - 01:19
Suite in D Minor: II. Allemande - 02:37
Suite in D Minor: III. Courante - 01:17
Suite in D Minor: IV. Sarabande - 02:05
Suite in D Minor: V. Branle des Frondeurs - 01:25
Suite in D Minor: VI. Gigue - 01:32

Germain Pinel *

Suite in F Major: I. Prélude - 02:22
Suite in F Major: II. La belle Allemande - 02:42
Suite in F Major: III. Courante - 01:16
Suite in F Major: IV. Sarabande - 01:34
Suite in F Major: V. Courante - 01:25
Suite in F Major: VI. Double - 01:18

Robert De Visée

Suite in D Minor: I. Allemande - 02:04
Suite in D Minor: II. Courante * - 01:20
Suite in D Minor: III. Sarabande - 02:40
Suite in D Minor: IV. Courante - 01:21
Suite in D Minor: V. Gigue - 01:25

Germain Pinel *

Suite in G Minor: I. Prélude - 01:57
Suite in G Minor: II. Allemande - 03:24
Suite in G Minor: III. Courante - 01:14
Suite in G Minor: IV. Sarabande, La Sçavante - 02:40
Suite in G Minor: V. Chaconne - 03:04


Total timing: 56'38

* World premiere recordings