Dans le sillage de Marin Marais: Suites for viola da gamba and basso continuo; Suite for pardessus de viol and basso continuo; La Berg-Op-Zoom; Plainte; La la Fernay
Harmonia Mundi HMM 902352 42:31 mins
It’s always a joy to discover new composers, especially in a specialist field like French viol music that tends to be dominated by two giants, Marin Marais and Antoine Forqueray. But Louis de Caix d’Hervelois’s works for viol are every bit as graceful, plaintive and melodically inspired as Marais’s (who happened to be his teacher), as evidenced in the D minor Suite for viol and basso continuo, so stylishly performed here by members of La Rêveuse. However, there’s a lot more to the prolific Caix d’Hervelois, who published ten volumes of music during his lifetime. The Suite for ‘pardessus de viole’ (the highest tuned and smallest of the viol family) is a delight, the instrument’s tone not unlike a muted modern-day violin, and is expressively showcased by Florence Bolton whose booklet notes paint a vivid portrait of the composer as something of a property-dealing pro.
Away from the viol family, Caix d’Hervelois championed the transverse flute which, thanks to the greatest flautists of the day La Barre and Boismortier, was rapidly gaining traction in 18th-century France. The D major Suite is a delicate, florid work of great beauty, its fourth movement ‘Nightingale’ the perfect vehicle for Serge Saitta’s artistry.