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Parnasse De La Viole Vol 2 - Marais: Piéces De Viole/ Savall

Release Date: 11/11/2003 
Label:  Alia Vox   Catalog #: 9828   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Marin Marais
Performer:  Xavier Díaz-LatorrePierre HantaïJordi SavallRolf Lislevand,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

More than any other musician of our time Jordi Savall has championed Marin Marais in the concert hall and recording studio--and he even was largely responsible for the highly acclaimed French movie Tous Les matins du monde, a veritable cinematic biography devoted to the composer. Nearly 30 years ago, for Astrée, Savall made his first recording of the Suite in B minor from Marais' second book of Pieces de Viole (now reissued mid-price as Naive Astrée 9978), part of an eventual series of five LPs (all later reincarnated as somewhat short CDs) that featured selections from all of Marais' influential five books. Here Savall offers his latest insights in a performance that often differs
Read more from his previous effort--most noticeably his inclusion of a second Allemande (II 86) that was conspicuously absent from his earlier recording. Savall's tempos as well are marginally slower, though there's a greater tendency to draw out more of the music's lyricism, particularly in the more animated Petitte Fantaisie, Gigues, Minuets, and Gavotte movements. In this regard (and aided in part by his decision to heighten the continuo with additional guitar and theorbe) Savall stylishly outclasses my previous and now comparatively austere-sounding reference performance by Laurence Dreyfus and Ketil Haugsand (Simax).

No longer bound by the time limits of the LP, Savall offers his first recording of the companion Suite in E minor that completes Book Two. Colleague David Vernier lavished well-deserved praise for Juan Manuel Quintana's stirring (though sadly edited) performance on Harmonia Mundi (type Q848 in Search Reviews), though Savall often imaginatively equals or betters Quintana's accomplishment. For instance, in the Rondeau Champêtre Savall probes the thematic intricacies of the piece much more thoroughly than Quintana, whose swifter tempos dazzle yet also obscure such detail. I also prefer the way Savall renders more introspective wit and expressive twist in the culminating final movement Tombeau pour Mr de Ste Colombe. His articulation, particularly in the higher registers, is remarkably more suggestive of that elusive comparison viol players often draw between their chosen instrument and its ability to imitate the human voice.

Alia Vox's full-bodied, richly detailed sound is magnificent. The extravagant digi-pak presentation includes Savall's engaging essay "The Parnassus of the Viol" as well as informative if not fascinating notes by Vincent Borel titled "Marin Marais (1656-1728)" that dwell more on the widespread contemporary contempt of Lully than on Marais' life. This is the "second book" we've all been waiting for--now let's have the remaining four, please!
--John Greene, ClassicsToday.com


Somewhere, I seem to remember, Mme. de Sevigné wrote that a scene in a Lully opera brought her to tears. It seems almost impossible now. Lully was among other things, a superb politician who, thanks to his adroitly managed mixture of obsequiousness and megalomania, was granted virtual total control over the French opera world by Louis XIV. Lully squelched rivals and imposed himself on every aspect of his operas and their productions. There was, of course, a price: every opera had to pay elaborate tribute to the grandeur of his king. Lully’s operatic music, written for a large orchestra, chorus, and soloists, was formal, grandiose, and spectacular. Much of it seems to me cold.

Not the compositions of Marin Marais, whose early professional life included a period during which he played in Lully’s court orchestra and studied composition with the master. Earlier, Marais studied basse de viole or—as we are apt to call it—viola da gamba with the composer known as Monsieur de Ste.-Colombe. (Sainte-Colombe’s first name is unknown.) Marais became, it is thought, a virtuoso: certainly, his best-known works are his books of passionate as well as elegant music written for viola da gamba.

Until recent years, they have been rarely recorded, so we can be thankful for this new disc as well as Jordi Savall’s earlier Marais recordings. Here, Savall has chosen two suites, one in the key of E Minor that ends with an homage to Sainte-Colombe, and the second in G Minor with a climactic movement, the “Tombeau pour Monsieur de Lully.”

I can’t imagine these pieces played more movingly. In a richly recorded session, Savall recognizes and beautifully evokes Marais’s drama, the melancholy and sensuousness of his world with its mixture of formality and expressiveness. The players are recorded very closely—one hears Savall’s sniffing and occasional moans as well as his viola da gamba. It is worth hearing those intrusions, given the lushness of the sound that comes with them. Some listeners might find Savall over the top in his interpretations: if Casals had played viola da gamba, this is the way he would have sounded. To my ears, he has enlivened and illuminated a rarely played, valuable, body of music.

-- Michael Ullman, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

Pièces de viole, Book 2: Suite in E minor by Marin Marais
Performer:  Xavier Díaz-Latorre (Guitar), Pierre Hantaï (Harpsichord), Jordi Savall (Bass Viola da gamba),
Rolf Lislevand (Theorbo), Philippe Pierlot (Bass Viola da gamba)
Date of Recording: 02/2003 
Venue:  Château de Cardonna, Catalonia, Spain 
Length: 34 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Pièces de viole, Book 2: Suite no 4 in B minor by Marin Marais
Performer:  Pierre Hantaï (Harpsichord), Rolf Lislevand (Theorbo), Philippe Pierlot (Bass Viola da gamba),
Jordi Savall (Bass Viola da gamba), Xavier Díaz-Latorre (Guitar)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1701; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/2003 
Venue:  Château de Cardonna, Catalonia, Spain 
Length: 31 Minutes 20 Secs. 

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