Marin Marais was born in Paris in 1656 and died there in 1728. Displaying an early talent for music, an uncle enrolled him in the choir school of St-Germain l’Auxerrois. This school had an impressive educational regime, producing at the same time as Marais the composer Michel de Lalande.
Marais’ instrument was the viol, and he was probably the greatest composer for the instrument, producing and publishing livres consisting of pieces for all levels of ability.
Several times a week Marais would perform for, and play with Louis XIV, himself a gifted guitarist and dancer. One day Marais could be performing virtuoso compositions for the King, the next teaching simple works to wealthy beginners.
A selection of his vast output is to be found on this CD. Perhaps the most remarkable is the set of 32 hypnotic variations of the popular Portuguese song La Folia. His variations appeared just a few months after Corelli’s version of the song in 1701.
For those who have an interest in the early French baroque period and the music of Couperin, Lully and Rameau, this CD provides a superb introduction to one of their most respected and gifted contemporaries, as well as a snapshot of musical life at the French court at the time of Louis XIV.
- Recording made in 2009 by a young Spanish-based ensemble of considerable talent and growing reputation.