Suite in D Minor – Robert de Visée



Robert de Visée (Arr. by Eugène den Hoed)

Iduna 0102 17 pp.

An old favorite that deserves a revival.

Karl Scheit (1909-1993) often found himself in the firing line. In the May 1955 edition of BMG, Jack Duarte (as he was then known) published a review of Scheit’s London recital from the March of that year. Even by Duarte’s outspoken standards, the criticism was unusually blistering. Over the next two decades, as Scheit’s published editions became ever more abundant, there was much harrumphing over such eccentricities as his penchant for adding slurs to transcriptions of 16th-century lute music. (I referred to this myself as recently as the October 2014 Classical Guitar.) Then there were Scheit’s fingerings, which gave every impression of having been devised by someone unfamiliar with the workings of the human hand.

But let it also be noted that Scheit’s arrangement of the Visée’s Suite in D minor, which clearly formed the unacknowledged basis for the 1966 Bream recording, is dated 1944. This almost places Scheit on a chronological par with Emilio Pujol as a pioneering figure in the rediscovery of the modern guitar’s hitherto neglected forebears.

Scheit is again denied a credit in this curiously bound publication dating back to 2011 since the very fact that Eugene den Hoed uses Scheit’s revised order of movements and, like Scheit, skips the “Passacaille” altogether, leaves no doubt as to his source. Essentially, what this Netherlands-based guitarist/arranger provides is jazzed-up Scheit, followed by his own highly elaborate embellishments written out in full in the repeats. If memory serves, Leo Brouwer performed a similarly ornate Suite in D minor during a BBC broadcast in the late ’70s.

Eugene den Hoed’s efforts succeed, in that his trills and twiddles, although often tricky, are always playable and, unlike Scheit, his fingerings actually work. For reasons known only to him, he adds Italian tempo markings (but not metronome speeds) to all the movements, including the “Prelude.” This is an offense of which Scheit was sometimes guilty but, ironically, not in Suite in D minor. A pleasingly individualistic take on an old favorite that deserves a revival.