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  • MARIN MARAIS Suitte d’un Gôut Etranger, Pièces de Viole IV Livre
  • MARIN MARAIS Suitte d’un Gôut Etranger, Pièces de Viole IV Livre
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MARIN MARAIS Suitte d’un Gôut Etranger, Pièces de Viole IV Livre
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Reference: AVSA9851

  • Jordi Savall
  • Pierre Hantaï
  • Philippe Pierlot
  • Xavier Díaz-Latorre
  • Rolf Lislevand
  • Andrew Lawrence-King
  • Pedro Estevan

It was around 1959 that I discovered the existence of Marin Marais and his Pieces for Viol. I was seventeen and had been studying the cello for just over two years. Being very inquisitive by nature, I was already searching for unknown works, music that nobody played any more. At number 97 on the famous “Ramblas” in Barcelona, in the music shop called “CASA BEETHOVEN”, I was intrigued to find a “Suite in D minor”, arranged for the cello by Christian Döbereiner and published by SCHOTT & Co. in 1933. I remember being instantly charmed by the highly original character of the various pieces it contained: Prélude, Sarabande Grave, Paysanne, Charivary and, in particular, by the Variations of the Folies d’Espagne. What fascinated me about all those pieces that I gradually explored and continued to revisit, like those by François Couperin, Caix d’Hervelois, August Kühnel, Jan Schenk, Christopher Simpson, Diego Ortiz and, of course, J.S. Bach’s three sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord, was their distinctive style, one which although belonging to an earlier, unfamiliar age, was at the same time acutely relevant because of its vitality, poetry and imagination.

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Inèrpretes

JORDI SAVALL, viola baixaPierre Hantaï, clavicèmbalPhilippe Pierlot, viola baixaRolf Lislevand, Xavier Díaz-Latorre, tiorbes i guitarresAndrew Lawrence-King, arpa “di tre ordine”Pedro Estevan, percussió

llista de temes

PIÈCES DE VIOLE du IV Livre, 1717CD 11. Marche Tartare IV.55 2’112. Allemande IV.56 2’113. Sarabande IV.57 2’494. La Tartarine IV.58 0’575. Double IV.59 1’126. Gavotte IV.60 1’427. Feste Champêtre IV.61 5’458. Gigue la Fleselle IV.62 2’269. Rondeau le Bijou IV.63 5’5810. Le Tourbillon IV.64 1’3511. L’Uniforme IV.65 1’2412. Suitte IV.66 0’5613. Suitte IV.67 2’2414. L’Ameriquaine IV.68 4’2115. Allemande sujet – Gigue Basse IV.69 2’3616. Allemande l’Asmatique IV.70 1’4117. La Tourneuse IV.71 2’3618. Muzette IV.72 5’00CD 21. Caprice ou Sonate IV.73 5’292. Le Labyrinthe IV.74 10’513. La Sauterelle IV.75 2’334. La Fougade IV.76 4’065. Allemande la Bizare IV.77 2’426. La Minaudière IV.78 1’567. Allemande la Singulière IV.79 2’348. L’Arabesque IV.80 4’499. Allemande la Superbe IV.81 3’0110. La Reveuse IV.82 7’3911. Marche IV.83 2’0112. Gigue IV.84 1’2013. Pièce Luthée IV.85 1’4214. Gigue la Caustique IV.86 1’5315. Le Badinage IV.87 3’55

Informació

a Saint Michel en Thiérache (Aisne-France) per Manuel Mohino del 21 al 31 d’agost i el 1, 7 i 8 de setembre 2006

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Description

It was around 1959 that I discovered the existence of Marin Marais and his Pieces for Viol. I was seventeen and had been studying the cello for just over two years. Being very inquisitive by nature, I was already searching for unknown works, music that nobody played any more. At number 97 on the famous “Ramblas” in Barcelona, in the music shop called “CASA BEETHOVEN”, I was intrigued to find a “Suite in D minor”, arranged for the cello by Christian Döbereiner and published by SCHOTT & Co. in 1933. I remember being instantly charmed by the highly original character of the various pieces it contained: Prélude, Sarabande Grave, Paysanne, Charivary and, in particular, by the Variations of the Folies d’Espagne. What fascinated me about all those pieces that I gradually explored and continued to revisit, like those by François Couperin, Caix d’Hervelois, August Kühnel, Jan Schenk, Christopher Simpson, Diego Ortiz and, of course, J.S. Bach’s three sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord, was their distinctive style, one which although belonging to an earlier, unfamiliar age, was at the same time acutely relevant because of its vitality, poetry and imagination.

A few years later, during the summer of 1965, just one month after completing my cello studies, I returned to Barcelona after a musical study trip to Santiago de Compostela where I had been working on Baroque chamber music with the harpsichordist Rafael Puyana. He advised me to learn to play the viola da gamba, the instrument for which the music that I played on the cello had originally been composed. On my journey back to Barcelona, I made the following entry in my diary “Find a viola da gamba!” On my arrival, there was a great surprise waiting for me: Enric Gispert, the director of the early music ensemble ARS MUSICAE, wanted to talk to me. He offered to lend me a viola da gamba, if I was serious about learning the instrument. He invited me to collaborate with him, helping to put together a viol ensemble and to take part in concerts and recordings. I later found out that it was Montserrat Figueras, who sang with the ensemble and also studied the cello at the Barcelona Conservatoire, who had brought to Enric Gispert’s attention that young cellist who played Bach and the Baroque repertoire tolerably well. Another decisive encounter which was to play, as it still plays today, an essential and indissoluble part in every creative aspect of both my personal and my musical life.

The following year, in March 1966, when I gave my first little concert (performing music by Diego Ortiz), I met Wieland Kuijken, who was also in Barcelona performing in a Bach Passion. That summer, I was to spend two stimulating weeks at his house, working on music for the viola da gamba, before leaving for London to study the English repertoire in the British Museum. But before that, in April, in the middle of the beautiful spring of 1966, I was privileged to spend a short time in Paris, researching music for the viola da gamba at the Bibliothèque Nationale. It was an intense, emotion-packed week. I spent my days there getting to know the viola da gamba repertoire, and my afternoons and evenings getting to know the girl who, one year later, was to become my wife. At the age of twenty-four, after nine years studying the cello, I was teaching myself the viola da gamba; but I was already convinced that, if I was going to learn to play properly this instrument that had been neglected for more than 150 years, I would need to go directly to the source and study accounts left by the great masters of the past.

I knew that Marais was an interesting composer and I was familiar with some of his pieces, but at that time (1960-64) I was unaware of the true dimension of his work for the viol. An entirely new horizon opened up when, among the various collections of M. De Machy, Caix d’Hervelois, Antoine Forqueray, François Couperin and other anonymous manuscripts, I came across the more than 500 pieces by Marin Marais. The opportunity to study Marin Marais’s compositions alongside the other viol pieces, whether printed or in manuscript form, in the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris gave me the measure of the importance of his work, as well as the incredible variety and wealth of technical information that they contained on fingering, articulation and positioning of the fingers and the bow, as well as interpretation, ornamentation, vibrato, accentuation, phrasing, etc. It was then that I realised what a travesty it was that all these wonderful pieces should be left sleeping in the deepest oblivion. I was invaded by the sense that my nine years of studying the cello had just flown away and that I was going to have to start all over again, almost from scratch.

For the next ten years, the music of Marin Marais was to be my chief source of work and inspiration. That period was full of encounters and musical landmarks: 1968-70, my studies at the Schola Cantorum in Basel (under August Wenzinger); 1973, I succeeded my teacher in his post at the Schola Cantorum; 1974, Hespèrion XX was founded (with Montserrat Figueras, Hopkinson Smith, and Lorenzo Alpert), etc. But in terms of its direct consequences for my approach to playing the viol, I must stress the importance of my meeting Mme. Geneviève Thibault, Countess of Chambure, in 1972, and her generous decision, after hearing me play a Bach sonata with Rafael Puyana, to loan me one of the bass viols in her private collection. Suddenly, all the nuances on which I had been working so diligently, such as “bowing on the air” and “letting the sound fade away” became clear to me as the suppleness and sensitivity of that seven-string bass viol, built by an anonymous 17th century lutenist, made the thousand nuances that Marais’s music required both natural and possible. Thanks to the initiative of Michel Bernstein and his new ASTRËE collection “Deffence & Illustration de la Musique Française”, almost three years later, in July 1975, playing that same 17th century viol, I recorded the first disc (AS 4) devoted to the work of Marin Marais, featuring a selection of Pièces de Viol from the composer’s First Book (Folies d’Espagne, Suite in B minor and Les voix humaines). The first disc was followed six months later, in December, 1975, by François Couperin’s Pièces de Viole (AS 1) and in January, 1977, by a selection of 12 pieces for viol from the Suitte d’un goût étranger included in Marais’s First Book (1).

From that time until now, thanks to all the violists, musicians and musicologists who have brought his vast, wonderful legacy to life in our own day, Marin Marais and the viola da gamba are no longer strangers to the world of music. However, I would also like to emphasise the exceptional contribution made by the remarkable film Tous les matins du monde, the soundtrack of which I had the responsibility and honour to perform. Based on the novel by Pascal Quignard and directed with extraordinary musical sensitivity by Alain Corneau, the film enabled millions of people all over the world to discover and experience this music, which until that time had been the privilege of a very few.

Now (thirty years after that original recording in 1977), I have decided to return to the extraordinary “Suitte d’un goût étranger” and record it in its entirety, with all its 33 pieces, in the conviction that it is here that we find the true essence and the fullest expression of the art of Marin Marais. It is an art finally freed from the traditional rules. This “Suitte” has no Prelude and consists of only twelve dances – and very unusual dances they are, too: Allemande for the subject and Gigue for the bass line, Allemande l’Asmatique, Allemande la Singulière (for 3 parts), Bizare, Superbe, Gigue la Caustique. Marais also departs from the basic key and, as in Le Labyrinthe, he leads us through a wide variety of keys that are unusual for the period: from E flat major to F sharp major, including E (natural) minor, E major, G major, A major, C major, A minor, A major, D major, D minor, F major, F minor and F sharp minor. It offers an astonishing variety of emotions, ranging from the simplest and most ironic (La Tourneuse, the Sauterelle) and rustic (Feste Champêtre, Muzette) to the complex (Caprice and Sonate, the Minaudière) and highly sophisticated (Le Labyrinthe, L’Arabesque), as well as the spectacular (La Marche Tartare, Le Tourbillon) and the intimately moving (La Rêveuse, L’Amériquaine), and, in spite of its title, the intensely enigmatic and nostalgic concluding Badinage.

This “Suitte”, which constitutes the second part of Book IV, is specially dedicated to the more accomplished violists, of whom Marin Marais writes “advanced viol players will find pieces which, although apparently very difficult at first sight, will, with a little attention and practice, become familiar to them. I have written them in such a way as to stretch the skill of those who do not like easy pieces, but often prefer technically difficult pieces instead.” In terms of its originality of presentation, the audacity of its effects and the aptness of the different characters representing the “Goûts Etrangers”, the Suite has no equal in the Baroque repertoire. The extreme virtuosity of many of the pieces contrasts with the apparent simplicity and profound emotion of others, such as La Rêveuse and Le Badinage. But, thanks to their unfailingly refined and highly developed harmonies, their daring and incisive rhythms, and, above all, the pure and natural singing quality of their melodic line, they all abound in vitality and grace. That grace, “more beautiful than beauty itself” which, to quote La Fontaine, “touches the soul and fills it with resonance”. As we study, play, record and listen to this marvellous music, we can appreciate more fully the appositeness of Evrard Titon du Tillet’s words in his Posthumous Eulogy (1732) of Marin Marais (2): “It is fair to say that Marais raised the viol to its highest degree of perfection, and that he was the first to make the instrument’ known in all its range and beauty, thanks both to the large number of excellent pieces that he wrote for it and his admirable skill in playing them…”

JORDI SAVALL
Bellaterra, summer 2006

(1) Selections devoted to Marais’s other books were recorded – also at Saint Lambert des Bois – in April 1978 (First Book), March 1983 (Fifth Book) and January 1992 (Third Book).

(2) Quoted in Vie de musiciens et autres joueurs d’instruments du règne de Louis le Grand.

© Alia Vox. Translated by Jacqueline Minett