Ars Antigua Presents: December 2011 edition

Title page of Marais' first book of Pièces de Violes (1686)

Marin Marais was a virtuoso gambist, performing with the royal orchestra of Louis XIV and the Académie Royale de Musique under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Lully. His skill at composition was also well known in his lifetime; in Le Parnasse François, by Titon du Tillet we learn “one finds everywhere in them good taste and a surprising variety.” Marais composed a few operas and trio sonatas, but the bulk of his output was music for his own basse de viole. Between the years 1686 and 1725, Marais composed five volumes of Pièces de Violes, the most substantial body of work ever written for that instrument. It is from the third volume, published in 1711, that we hear this month’s selection.

This month’s selection includes four Pièces in A minor from the Troisième Livre de Pièces de Viole of Marin Marais. The performers are Les Grâces, a baroque ensemble from the San Francisco bay area, who have just this month released an entire album of music of the French Baroque, titled Les Grâces Françoises.

Les Grâces (photo courtesy Sheila Newberry)


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