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Marin Marais Project - Suite d’un goût étranger

Marin Marais Project - Suite d’un goût étranger

Valletta Baroque Festival 2024


Ensemble Près de votre oreille

Robin Pharo - viola da gamba and direction

Ronald Martin Alonso - viola da gamba

Ronan Khalil - harpsichord

Simon Waddell - theorbo and baroque guitar



Marin Marais (1656-1728)

Fourth book of pieces composed for bass of viola da gamba and basso continuo (1717)


Extracts from 

Suite d’un goût étranger


Marche Tartare



La Tartarine & Double


Feste Champêtre

Gigue la Fleselle


Le Tourbillon

Rondeau Le Bijou


Le Labyrinthe


Caprice ou Sonate


La Sauterelle

La Minaudière

Allemande La Superbe



Le Badinage




Programme Notes


One of Marin Marais's most emblematic works opens majestically with the Marche Tartare, taken from his Quatrième livre and penultimate collection of pieces for bass viol and continuo, published in 1717. At the dawn of the 18th century, Marin Marais was one of the most renowned French gambists and teachers in his country. He had just entrusted one of his sons with his title of Musician of the King's Chamber, Musicien de la Chambre du Roi, in 1708 and was gradually withdrawing from the court. Now liberated from his royal obligations, he perhaps enjoyed greater freedom as a composer. He lived well, enjoyed great fame, and entered his period of artistic maturity. Like his opera Alcione, a masterpiece of the French art of tragédie-lyrique, the Suite d'un goût étranger is also a high point in French Baroque instrumental writing. From this suite, which alone could define part of the French art of the viola da gamba, are extracted some of the best-known pieces by Marin Marais, which symbolise a form of gamba identity. The pieces in this Suite are rigorously organised in several parts that explore almost every tonality. The adjective ‘foreign' may refer to a marriage of Italian and French styles in which the French Suite de danses tends to merge with the Italian art of the concertante, particularly well displayed in the Caprice or Sonate. The term also has a poetic character: that of the stranger, from whom one may be tempted to distance oneself out of fear, but who also appears as a source of inspiration to which one should draw closer.

Today’s programme was recorded in the middle of a health, economic and social crisis, which allowed me to appreciate even more the privilege of being a professional performer of music. Like a spark of hope, it is the Turkish world of Central Asia, the Arabian roots of the viola da gamba and the beauty of human cultural interaction that is evoked by the Tartars in the opening in E-flat major of the Suite d'un goût étranger.


12 January 2024
Oratory of the Onorati, (Jesuits' Church), Valletta
€20 - €30
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Valletta Baroque Festival 2024

Marin Marais Project - Suite d’un goût étranger

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