If he were so minded, Jordi Savall might hand copies of this CD out to new acquaintances as the musical equivalent of a calling-card. True, he appears here only in the guise of soloist, whereas a more complete portrait would need to include samples of his work as director and conductor; but as an illustration of the range of the viola da gamba, this generously filled disc is exemplary. And although the calling-card might not be handmade, it is the nearest thing to it, since Alia Vox is Savall’s own, newly established label.
Lully's tragedie en musique, Atys, with a text by his favored librettist, Philippe Quinault, was one of his greatest operatic successes and was significant for setting a new standard for a distinctively French approach to opera. While Lully's operas have not entered the repertoire, they have fared well on record thanks to the efforts of some top-notch early music ensembles, and this 2010 performance of Atys featuring Hugo Reyne leading La Simphonie du Marais and Le Choeur du Marais is a superb addition to the composer's discography.
These "concerts mis en simphonie" are Jean-Philippe Rameau's Pièces de clavecin en concert of 1741, orchestrated for strings and winds (but no harpsichord) by Hugo Reyne, flutist and director of the historical-instrument group La Simphonie du Marais. Rameau's originals are for violin, viola da gamba, and harpsichord, but unlike in an Italian trio sonata or accompanied sonata the harpsichord is at the center of the group. The violin and gamba are accompanimental and can optionally be replaced with other instruments.
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…”