A noteworthy fact: Marais, in his five books of Pièces de viole, published only two suites for two viols and continuo. Aside from the two suites for three viols (Book IV), all the other pieces are intended for the solo instrument with accompaniment of harpsichord, theorbo or a second viol in different combinations.
French composer Marin Marais (1656-1728) was remarkably prolific, writing nearly 600 compositions for viola da gamba, as well as many operas. One of his major collections of music for the gamba is Suitte d'un Gôut Etranger, a collection of 33 short works written, according to the composer, "to stretch the skill of those who do not like easy pieces." Jordi Savall, the most acclaimed gamba player of the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries, who is responsible for bringing many of Marais' works to light, plays with extraordinary virtuosity and expressiveness.
Marais was one of Lully's most successful protéges. He had a dual career as court viol player to Louis XIV and batteur de mesure (conductor) of the Académie Royale de Musique (later called simply the 'Opéra'). He was a prolific composer of pieces for one, two and three bass viols as well as chamber music and operas.
Systematic development of a solid technical basis for the stylistic interpretation of the Renaissance, the Baroque and the Classical Period, drawn from the treatises by Ganassi, Ortiz, Simpson, Rousseau, Danoville, Louilié, annotations by Marin Marais, J. B. Forqueray & others.
Marin Marais (31 May 1656, Paris – 15 August 1728, Paris) was a French composer and viol player. He studied composition with Jean-Baptiste Lully, often conducting his operas, and with master of the bass viol Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe for 6 months. He was hired as a musician in 1676 to the royal court of Versailles. He did quite well as court musician, and in 1679 was appointed "ordinaire de la chambre du roy pour la viole", a title he kept until 1725.wiki
Perl is an exceptionally smooth player, and she executes the dances of these French suites with the lightness they deserve. In performing the variation sets that Marais would have used to display his own virtuosity, she's got power in reserve. And the music throughout has that elusive meshing of mutually familiar personalities that is the mark of effective chamber music. Marin Marais: Pour la Violle et le Théorbe, in short, comes off as something personal - an impression intensified by the elegant dedication, written in the old-fashioned style of the French court, of the music to the public by the performers. One solo theorbo piece, by Robert de Visée, is also included. - James Manheim, allmusicguide.com
For this recording directing Le Concert Spirituel, Hervé Niquet has revived Sémélé by Marin Marais - the final opera by one of the leading composers from the reign of Louis XIV. Known for his compositions for viola da gamba, Marais was also the author of a number of tragédies lyriques which he wrote for the Académie royale de Musique.
However, only Alcyone has attracted any attention. Sémélé, first performed in 1709, has music to charm and seduce: a sparkling prologue honouring Bacchus, a set of arias with freshly-minted appeal, a marvellously inventive diabolical scene; all leading up to an earthquake scene that anticipates the later work of Rameau. For all lovers of baroque music, here is the opportunity to discover and enjoy a masterpiece which has lain in the shadows for the last three centuries.