Where two or three viol players are gathered together, the chances are that Mann Marais will crop up in the conversation; but outside those rarified circles he is hardly a household name seeming merely a minor contemporary of Couperin, and I had assumed that he was a sort of Hummel of the viol—by which I mean that he was a virtuoso player who happened also to compose respectably for his instrument. Listening to the selection on this disc suggests that he is considerably more than this, a Chopin of the viol, perhaps, for though the pieces here recorded clearly demand dexterity and technical polish, the best of them display a lyrical, gentle art in which brilliance is only a minor facet. The sarabandes in both the Suite en Trio (to give aRead more more accurate term than Trio Sonata, though the texture is essentially the same as in the Italian genre) and the Suite for viol da gamba and harpsichord show off his gifts very well, being elegant and sweet. The Plainte in the latter, a baroque instrumental lament, is also very fine. The energetic music is a shade less convincing, the sound picture of the bells of Sainte Genevieve in Paris being rather dull, and the gavottes in the suites rather conventional. On the other hand, there are some delightful minuets, and a splendidly virtuosic Charivary to end the viol suite.
The playing of Nikolaus Harnoncourt is, as ever, a delight. So many players of viols seem to ignore the forward thrust of the music, or make ugly noises to be excused, apparently, on the ground that a viol must not sound like a violin. No such arguments from Harnoncourt, who makes a consistently pleasant tone, and phrases in such a way as to project the music onward. Decorations of the kind which fill French melody never get in the way of the overall design, and the result is most pleasing. His flautist, Leopold Stastny is equally accomplished, and although the harpsichord appears rather fussily played, and the recording has a somewhat distant quality, the overall result is most worthwhile.
-- Gramophone [9/1973] reviewing this title on LP Read less
Pièces en trio: Suite no 1 in C majorby Marin Marais Performer:
Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Treble Vla da gamba),
Leopold Stastny (Flute),
Herbert Tachezi (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque Written: by 1692; Paris, France Date of Recording: 1973
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