A Listening Guide for Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations

Special thanks to Houston Early Music for providing this listening guide for the Friday, March 1 concert with Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations. Jordi Savall, internationally acclaimed viola da gamba virtuoso, makes a highly anticipated return visit to the Houston stage with a program inspired by the 1991 French film Tous Les Matins du Monde. Savall is joined by artists of Le Concert des Nations performing works by French Baroque composers Marin Marais and his mentor M. de Sainte-Colombe. Also included are compositions by Jean-Baptiste Lully, François Couperin and others.

M. de Saint-Colombe was credited with adding a seventh string on the bass viol, the instrument Jordi Savall will be playing. He is considered the most prolific composer for the viol before Marin Marais, whom he taught for six months before letting him go, fearing he would soon outshine his teacher.

Found in “Pièces de Viole du 2e livre”, Les Voix Humaines is a lesson in the variety in expression available to those who have mastered bowing techniques used to play the viola da gamba.

This work was first performed in the court of Louis XIV as a comèdie-ballet- an early version of an opera. This work showcases the versatility of the viola da gamba in instrumental ensembles.

Les Concerts Royaux were also performed for Louis XIV as a set of four suites intended for listening rather than dancing. There is no clear indication of instrumentation, so these works can be performed by a solo harpsichord or by an ensemble, as you’ll hear on March 1.