Whilst Italian composers had taken up the ‘modern’ form of the sonata and adapted it to the violin at the beginning of the 17th century, French composers remained faithful to the principles of polyphonic music with their fantaisies that were still intended for ensembles of viols; the role of the violin in France at that time was still limited to providing music for dancing. Such knowledge of polyphony was demanded not only from composers of vocal music but also from organists, one of whom was Louis Couperin and who was also dessus de viole de la chambre du Roi. Our recording comes to a fitting conclusion with the last French work to be written for ensemble of viols: Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Concert à quatre parties de violes.
“Only a tiny proportion of this repertoire has been recorded, so this wider survey from Ensemble Mare Nostrum is long overdue...The recording ends magnificently with Louis Couperin's rhetorically powerful five-part fantaisies, drawing from the musicians their best playing.”
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