Great baroque compositions but recording could be crisper
John G. Ferguson | Downingtown, PA USA | 11/29/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is a siblime collection of pieces, when I get tired of squealing metal, industrial sounds, 3 chord punk... I turn to CDs such as this.The music is splendid, and in fact heart filling. However, I think the recording is "muted" a bit. I think I should "feel" the deeper bass notes on some of the pieces, so I think it may be since NAXOS is more of a budget operation (ah the price is the give away eh).So, if you are a super audio-phile or uber-classical snob you may find the quality in the recording lacking.However, if you are beyond only liking Mozart's Eine Kleine Nacht Music and Bach's all too famous Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, this is a refreshing new step to older music. Hard core Barouque for the less fussy classical listener."
Wonderful music, middling performance
Simon Zaleski | 11/18/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The previous author couldn't resist comparing this recording to other recordings by Jordi Savall, and I have to say that I couldn't agree with him/her more. Savall's interpretations, sound, and dynamic are far above that of this recording. I would look into his CD "Tous les Matins du Monde," which includes many of these works and has better quality and spirit. The French Baroque IS a complicated style and few understand it as well as Savall.
One historical note: The viola da gamba was NOT the "predecessor" of the violoncello any more than the recorder was the predecessor of the flute: both instruments developed concurrently, but the gamba fell out of fashion by the Classical period. What a shame!"
Nice Selection of Marais' Viola Da Gamba Music
John C. Hitchen | Berkeley, CA USA | 09/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Naxos' mission is to make available to an international audience all significant Classical music compositions at budget price with lesser known but talented artists and high recording quality. This company policy allows the issue and maintenance in their catalog of CDs such as this one, which is a great collection of the music of Marin Marais composed for viola da gamba. Marais was the most popular and prolific of the 17th Century French composers for the Viola da Gamba, an antique predecessor to the cello or bass. Coupled with a harpsichord continuo,this hauntingly beautiful chamber music takes anyone back to a time before the industrial revolution when the rich wore elaborate wigs and clothing, and paid musicians to create music for their ornate parlors.While the performances may or may not be comparable to those on CDs costing about twice as much, for the overwhelming majority of listeners they are of outstanding quality.This and other Naxos discs are an affordable introduction to a style and period of music which offers a unique peacefulness and emotion in music. If this and other Naxos CDs are not good enough, just buy the full-price CDs and have fun comparing them. Take a walk on the baroque side."
Far Below Average Compared To Savall
Octavius | United States | 10/22/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"French Baroque is not a very well known style in performance circles either by the performers themselves or audiences. In particular, viola performances are probably the least known or heard. The viola da gamba is the cello's predecessor and prominent in both English and French Early-Mid Baroque. The instrument has greater range and resonance with 7 strings. There are probably fewer than 300 professional players performing on this instrument today. There are probably 4-5 who are the best and the musicians here are not even close to the talent of the undisputed and unmatched French master violist, Jordi Savall: there is absolutely no comparison.
The pieces here are mostly too slow in their interpretations of the meter and the players are simply not proficient enough to play most of them in terms of technique and knowledge of the French Baroque style. The violas are groaning in slow agony or screeching most of the time which is completely at odds with the intentions of the composer. All of them are equally pathetic in their execution. Listen to a sample of Savall's performances such as on the soundtrack to 'All The Mornings of The World' and the music will simply explain itself for you to make your descisions in buying French Baroque. He also has the best performance of Lully's 'Les Concerts Royaux' that I have ever heard: this man is nothing less than a prodigy in his art of the viola and his direction of French Baroque. I have the utmost respect for this man as an artist: he is truly a living legend.
For French Baroque in general and especially for Marin Marais or other viola composers, there is no other performer/conductor than Jordi Savall worth listening to. Especially for viola, his closest contenders are still motionless on the ground while he is flying circles in the stratosphere: there is simply no comparison and his virtuosity is exponentially superior to every one else's. Find out for yourselves and you will soon be agreeing with what I say. Since they didn't mention him by name, it seems that the previous reviewers have not heard Savall and so I wouldn't give too much credence in their overgenerous ratings. Good luck in your search for great music!"