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GRAMOPHONE (09/1988)
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Livre IV

E 7727


Reviewer: Julie Anne Sadie

Jordi Savall's recording of music from Marais's fourth book of pieces de viole is superb: elegant, fluent, spirited and evocative. The music is some of Marais's most demanding, technically and musically, and Savall is uniquely suited among modern players to dispatch his intended unorthodoxies with just the right panache. The choice of a baroque guitar in addition to harpsichord, lending a touch of exoticism, is a stroke of genius - so effective is Hopkinson Smith's playing that I wish it had more often been left to accompany the viol alone.

Savall has extracted 11 contrasting pieces from the Suite d'un goût étranger. The bold and rhetorical "Marche Tartare" is coupled with its more delicate counterpart, "La Tartarine"; the breezy "Toubillon" finds its analogue in the peaceful "Rêveuse". The graceful "Arabesque" is perfectly judged and the unpretentious "Badinage", infused by Savall with a delicious sense of mystery , provides a perfect epilogue to what is in effect Marais's essay on style. Also included here are the three-movement "Festes champêtre" , with its intimate solo muzette and audacious tambourin , and the well-known Frescobaldian " Labyrinthe" , in six sections, richly varied in key and character.

The reproduction of the instruments is very realistic, although a disconcerting background noise is occasionally evident in the quiet passages . This is a must equally for connoisseurs and for recent initiates to the charms of the French viol school.

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