This collection of Marais’ music was published in 1692 as “Trio Pieces for flutes, violins and dessus de viole,” the dessus being the second smallest of the viola de gamba family. (There was a pardessus de viole.) The notes here call this music “a totally different side of Marin Marais’ work,” for he composed these dance movements not for himself but for his companions, Read more à bec, which are accompanied variously by guitar or theorbo and harpsichord. I think it’s amusing to think of the king, any king, being enticed to sleep by dances, especially by such vigorous, cheerful stomps as the Bransle de village , but then there was little about France’s monarchs that wasn’t strange, and that little innocent dance is as appealing as anything here.
It is surprising that so little is known about Marin Marais today, as he could be considered one of the most important French composers of the Baroque period. Born in 1656, the son of a shoemaker, Marais spent his entire life in Paris. His musical career began when he joined the choir of the Sainte‐Chapelle, but when his voice broken he decided to learn the viol, studying with the renowned bass viol player Sainte‐ Colombe, who had a profound influence on the young Marais. Marais went on to enter the royal orchestra and the orchestra of the Académie Royale de musique, where he performed and studied composing under Jean‐Baptiste Lully.
À l'occasion du cinquantième anniversaire de la mort de Jean Cocteau, un portrait intime du couple légendaire et peu conventionnel qu'il forma avec Jean Marais.
Ce film raconte l'histoire d'une passion, celle qui lia Jean Cocteau, le poète pygmalion, et Jean Marais, le bel acteur caméléon.
“The most substantial pieces here are the set of variations of La folia, and the Tombeau pour M-deSte Colombe in memory of Marais's mentor. His idiom embodies a paradox that's peculiarly French, in that it demands a very high technical standard, yet its proper expression requires the utmost restraint. The young Finnish viol-player, Markku Luolajan-Mikkola, is a founder-member of Phantasm. Here he holds his own with elegance and reserve, although in the slower pieces one might have wished for more rhythmic flexibility. The continuo section consists of another viol-player, and a theorbo or harpsichord (though in the variations on La folia, the two are combined). This works well for the most part, though the high partials of the harpsichord tend to drown the viols: the lute is far less obtrusive…”
For his latest recording directing Le Concert Spirituel, Hervé Niquet has revived Sémélé by Marin Marais – the final opera by one of the leading composers from the reign of Louis XIV. Known above all for his compositions for the viola da gamba, Marais the composer was at the same time the author of a number of tragédies lyriques which he wrote for the Académie royale de Musique. Even to this day it has only been Alcyone which has attracted the attention of music lovers and musicians. Yet Sémélé – first performed in 1709 – arrives now full of music to charm and seduce the listener: a sparkling prologue honouring Bacchus, a set of arias with a freshly-minted appeal, a marvellously inventive diabolical scene, divertissements rich in character; all this leading up to an earthquake scene memorably anticipating the later work of Rameau. For all lovers of glorious baroque music, here is now the opportunity to discover and enjoy a masterpiece which has lain in theshadows for the last three centuries.