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American Record Guide: (01/2020) 
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Reviewer: David W. Moore

The title of this program is more dedicatory than informative. The music played is indeed by Marin Marais (1656-1728), whose great music put the viola da gamba up in the stratosphere, but the choice of pieces and the style of playing are the work of Robert Smith, whose introductory liner notes inform us that he tried put together a program that reflects Marais’s musical development and sheds light on some of his less-known compositions. What we have here is pieces personally picked from the suites in A major, E minor, G minor, and F-sharp minor, all but the last in an order chosen by Smith. Robert Smith is from Yorkshire, England. He won the Bach-Abel Viola da Gamba Competition in Kothen in 2012 and now lives in Amsterdam, where he is a member of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and has his own ensemble, Fantasticus. His colleagues are also recognized as masters of music. Joshua Cheatham won the 2006 Capriccio Stravagante Prize, and Olivier Fortin won top prizes in 1997 at both the Montreal Bach Competition and the Bruges Festival.


The results are worth listening to; Smith and his colleagues have experience and imagination. They play with accuracy and musical depth, though often not in Baroque style. For instance, a couple of movements in the E minor collection are done with percussion while Smith and Cheatham pluck the musical lines on their gambas. If you like the idea, you’ll enjoy this. But if it is the real music of Marais that interests you, you might turn back to ARG in July/August 2016—my latest review of the real thing. It covers a good deal of territory and is accompanied by more, including a review by Charles Brewer.

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