It is surprising that so little is known about Marin Marais today, as he could be considered one of the most important French composers of the Baroque period. Born in 1656, the son of a shoemaker, Marais spent his entire life in Paris. His musical career began when he joined the choir of the Sainte-Chapelle, but when his voice broken he decided to learn the viol, studying with the renowned bass viol player Sainte-Colombe, who had a profound influence on the young Marais. Marais went on to enter the royal orchestra and the orchestra of the Académie Royale de musique, where he performed and studied composing under Jean-Baptiste Lully. He was hailed as the greatest bass viol player of his time, and is said to have played the viol 'like an angel'.
Marais's vast output for the viol (over 800 pieces!) is astonishingly varied, original and affecting – no other composer has written so many works of such high quality for the instrument. The fifth and final book of Pièces de viole showcases Marais's art at its most mature and sophisticated, and includes a wider range of musical forms and techniques than the previous four books. Although the fifth book contains many of the conventional dance forms that listeners would expect to hear in a Baroque suite, there are many remarkable descriptive pieces that justify the claim that Marais was the first composer of programme music. A particularly striking example is the ‘Tableau de l'Opération de la Taille’ from the final Suite: an extraordinarily detailed musical depiction of an operation to remove a gall stone that the composer underwent!
These captivating suites are brought to life in vivid performances by acclaimed chamber musicians and early music specialists Rainer Zipperling, Ghislaine Wauters and Pieter-Jan Belder.
- Recorded in 2013.
- Little is known of the life of Marin Marais, but he is unquestionably one of the most important and original composers of the French Baroque. His public “breakthrough” came with the blockbuster film “Tous les matins du monde”, which features his beautiful works for the viol.
- Marais left a vast output of suites for the viol, the viola da gamba, in total 5 books. This new recording presents the 5th book, the most daring and original of all. In these suites of dance forms he introduces the first known examples of “program music”, music depicting non-musical ideas or events. One suite for instance describes an operation to remove a gall stone, which includes the binding of the patient and his painful screaming!
- Excellent performances by one of the best known viola da gamba players of the moment, Rainer Zipperling, seconded by harpsichord veteran Pieter-Jan Belder.
- Includes booklet notes and biographies of the artists.