A veteran of Jordi Savall's Hespèrion XX and XXI, gambaist Marianne Muller makes her Zig Zag Territories debut with this disc of music by the great French Baroque composer Marin Marais. The repertoire is daunting: the ingenious and evocative Le Labyrinthe, the 32 virtuoso variations on Les Folies d'Espagne, and the 12-movement Suite in E minor from Marais' Second Book of Pièces de viole. These are works that require not just virtuosity, stamina, intense expressivity, and soulful beauty of tone.
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.