Marais: Suite in E minor; Suite in A minor, (arr. Duruöz)

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COMPOSERS: Marais
LABELS: Centaur
WORKS: Suite in E minor; Suite in A minor, (arr. Duruöz)
PERFORMER: Cem Duruöz (guitar)
CATALOGUE NO: CRC 2498
Marais himself stated that his Pièces de viole could be played on instruments other than the viol, but it is rare to hear transcriptions of them today. On this disc, guitarist Cem Duruöz has arranged two suites for bass viol and continuo as well as several individual pieces, including one inspired by the most unlikely of subjects – an operation to remove a gallstone.

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Duruöz captures the essence of the originals – their combination of improvisatory freedom and poised restraint – while at the same time giving a contemporary edge to this repertoire. On the whole, the transcriptions are extremely effective: the intricate ornamentation of French viol music sits very easily on the guitar (no doubt because it derives from lute technique), and the brooding, introspective mood that characterises so many of these pieces is emotively conveyed by this intimate, soft-voiced instrument. Sustained melodic lines are rather less successfully realised on plucked strings, and occasionally Duruöz over-accentuates individual notes, disturbing the music’s liquid flow. But all in all, this is an enterprising project and one which I hope will attract new listeners to the beguiling sound world of French Baroque music. Kate Bolton