Mr. de Sainte Colombe le Fils: Pieces for Viola

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COMPOSERS: Sainte Colombe Le Fils
LABELS: Alia Vox
WORKS: Solo Viola da Gamba Suite No. 1; Solo Viola da Gamba Suite No. 2; Solo Viola da Gamba Suite No. 3; Solo Viola da Gamba Suite No. 4; Solo Viola da Gamba Suite No. 5; Solo Viola da Gamba Suite No. 6
PERFORMER: Jordi Savall (viola da gamba) Jean-Pierre Marielle (speaker)
CATALOGUE NO: AV 9827

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Although Sainte Colombe enjoyed fame in the 1991 film Tous les matins du monde (for which Jordi Savall provided the soundtrack) there are surprisingly few recordings of his music available today. This two-disc set would therefore be a welcome addition to the catalogue for the repertoire alone – music of mesmerising beauty that epitomises French Baroque elegance and refinement but also foreshadows Bach in its poetic austerity and musical rigour.

Jordi Savall’s 40-year love affair with the viola da gamba is everywhere apparent in these performances: he makes the instrument dance, he makes it sing and he even sings with it, quite literally, in Glenn Gouldian style. His tone is lustrous and richly resonant, subtly shaded with light and dark. There is a balletic quality to his playing, with every gesture perfectly judged to create an overall effect of fluidity and grace.

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These accounts are classics of our time – as revelatory in their way and as of gravitas and majesty as the historic recording of Bach’s cello suites by Pablo Casals, made back in the Thirties. The set is also stylishly packaged and beautifully produced, with warm and detailed recorded sound.