Morel: Complete Music for Viola da Gamba (CD)

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La Spagna, Alejandro Marias

French Baroque chamber music by a much-admired contemporary of Marin Marais.

In a personal introduction to his own authoritative booklet essay, the Spanish violist Alejandro Marías relates how he acquired the rare facsimile of an even rarer manuscript, and came to realise that its contents had never seen the light of day in the modern era, let alone received attention on record. Thus he presents here the First Book of Pieces – a second does not survive – by Jacques Morel.

The volume itself was published in 1709, two years before Marin Marais’s Third Book of pieces. Morel’s date of birth is now obscured by time, but we know that he was a pupil of Marais, to whom he dedicated this book. And indeed Morel makes no attempt to disguise the debt he felt to his master within his music.

The book contains four Suites for viola da gamba and continuo – in A minor, D minor, D major and G major, respectively – and a Chaconne en trio for a traverso flute, viol and basso continuo. This gentle and courtly six-minute Chaconne is the only piece of Morel’s that is regularly performed, but the four Suites are full of delightful discoveries. The second of them begins with a Prelude of bold and grave gestures which introduce a colourful suite of character pieces: the Allemande la Jolie (‘The pretty one’), the Courante la Dacier, a gentle, dream-like Sarabande and the Gigue l’Inconstante (‘The faithless one’). To end, there is an enjoyable rondeau, Le Folet (‘The imp’), and La Fanchonnette, reminiscent of a gavotte in feel and structure.

The other three suites are no less picturesque, and they are brought to life once more on this album by an early-music group founded in 2009 and named after a popular Renaissance dance. La Spagna has been awarded Spain’s GEMA prize for best young Early Music group.

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MOREL c.1700 - 1749
Premier Livre de Pièces de Violle
Complete Music for Viola da Gamba

Suite No.1 in A minor*
1. Prélude. Lentement – Vîte 
2. Allemande 
3. Courante 
4. Sarabande l’Agréable 
5. Gigue 
6. La Bretonne. Gratieusement 
7. Menuets I & II 

Suite No.2 in D minor
8. Prélude 
9. Allemande la Jolie 
10. Courante la Dacier 
11. Sarabande 
12. Gigue l’Inconstante 
13. Le Follet 
14. La Fanchonnette 

Suite No.3 in D*
15. Prélude 
16. Boutade de Sainct Germain 
17. Allemande la Brillante & Double 
18. Courante 
19. Sarabande l’Aurore 
20. Gigue à l'angloise 
21. Gavotte 
22. Fugue. Gayment 
23. Échos de Fontainebleau 

Suite No.4 in G*
24. Prélude. Lentement 
25. Fantaisie. Gayement 
26. Allemande 
27. Courante 
28. Sarabande 
29. Gigue à l'italienne 
30. Rondeau Dauphin 
31. Menuet 
32. La Guerandoise & Double 
33. Chaconne en trio

* first recordings