Marais: Pièces à une et à deux violes et basse continue

Reviewed on Tue 26 Jul, 2016

Paolo Pandolfo is very much primus inter pares, allowing the ensemble room to flourish and fill out the sound to good effect. An album of rich and subtle delights.

Published in 1689, Marin Marais’s “Pieces for One and Two Viols” (Pièces à une et à deux violes) was a significant development in the repertoire of the viola da gamba: instead of remaining a stately solo instrument as had been its traditional role, for the first time Marais put its rich, plangent voice at the centre of a chamber ensemble. The full-rounded, warmly expressive continuo is here performed by Markus Hunninger (harpsichord) and Thomas Boysen (theorbo), with Amelie Chemin taking the second gamba part in the duo works. Paolo Pandolfo is very much primus inter pares, allowing the ensemble room to flourish and fill out the sound to good effect. The plaintive tones of the soloist are not thereby sidelined, however: just sample the concluding G major Suite, where Pandolfo’s gamba laments affectingly in the 'Tombeau de M. Meliton'. An album of rich and subtle delights.
–Mark Walker