Baroque Music 1600-1750; Monteverdi, then a gaping hole in time followed by and ending with Bach and overlapping the rise of the new style in the 1730s (how many times have you heard the Music Historians well worn assertion that Bach was a reactionary and that the Baroque era actually ended in the 30's). Granted, there were Frenchmen (Lully, multiple Couperins), other Germans, and Italians (Scarlattis); but usually all are seen and interpreted through the prism of Bach's usage of their different idioms (structures, dances, ornamentation).
The true French Baroque cannot be seen through Bach's prism. It should be seen directly, as in Mr. Duruoz's groundbreaking disc of the music of French Violist, Marin Marais. French ornamentation is a discipline unto itself. One's ornamentation, and innovation of ornamentation, is the measure, in many cases, of those that play French Baroque. Duruoz redefines the performance of French Baroque music on the guitar with this recording. Not since the Fisk recording of the Italianate Bach Lute Suites, in which he explored and exploded many of the conventions of ornamentation on the guitar, has there been a more valid, useful and artistic baroque recording on our instrument. But the Fisk recording followed the melodic ideal of the Italian ornamentation style. Durouz breaks new ground for guitarists interested in French ornamentation.
In the Tombeau pour Mr. De Lully, a seven-minute thesis on ornamentation, Duruoz explores effects of vibrato, slide, trill, mordent, etc., etc. French Baroque music lives and dies by its ornamentation and this recording shows the power that well applied ornamentation can have. The painful cries that Duruoz elicits from his instrument are immediately followed by passages of stately reserve, showing the nature of the pieces title while at the same time maintaining the decorum of the time.
The Tombeau's and other character pieces are surrounded on all sides by tiny dance pieces, which, though devoid of the music intricacies of a Bach dance movement, are delightful and characteristically ornamented. What they show, is that they are forms in which the instrumentalist could play and ornamentally improvise. They needed to be light and short as they were designed to be interchangeable and vehicles for the performer.
This collection of music by the violist Marais is at the same time scholarly, surprising, musically charged and a must for those looking for a window on the French Baroque.