Rocking with a seven string bass viol

Just returned from my second night of intense, live music.  Looking forward to two more nights next week: the Chieftains on Tuesday and Steven Isserlis on cello on Thursday.  As Gale said, I seem to be trying to soak in as much that Princeton has to offer before we move to Philadelphia, not that I’ll be lacking for great music there.

Last night Jordi Savall and his ensemble Le Concert des Nations played at the McCarter Theater.  In this tour they’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of the film All the Mornings of the World, for which Savall and some of the others contributed the sound track.  (The movie is available on Amazon Prime.)  Large portions of the program last night consisted of pieces by Marin Marais and Sainte-Columbe, le pere, who are portrayed in the movie.   I found the opening pieces in the program quite austere, at times almost dissonant like some 20th century music.  But the first half closed with some lively pieces by Marin Marais, particularly his Sonnerie de Ste. Genevieve du Mont-de-Paris.  (In this linked video, the all female Vivalma Ensemble matches, if not outdoes, the verve of Savall’s all-male ensemble.)

What capped the evening for me was the encore.  A bourree written to celebrate the birth of Louis XIII to our old friend Marie de Médicis. In this YouTube video of the Bourée d’Avignonez Jordi Savall performs with a different ensemble than last night’s, but turn it to full screen and up the volume.  It rocks.

Tonight I went to hear the Princeton University Chamber Choir perform Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle.  Lovely voices.  Fantastic musicianship.  Yet, as someone who spent the first 22 years of his life immersed in the Latin Mass, I could not quite put aside the dissonance between Rossini’s music and the words of the Mass.  Rossini himself, in his own modest way, recognized the problem.

Good God there we have it—complete—this poor little Mass.  Is it really sacred music, or is it really abominable music?  I was born for Opera Buffa as thou well knowest. Little skill, little heart, and that is all.


  1. Maybe you already know, but you can catch free student performances at the Curtis Institute in Philly throughout the academic year. I’ve heard they’re really great!

  2. We heard Jordi Savall this evening in Lafayette – it was wonderful. I think I told you he has long been a favourite of mine. Edward met h for the second time today, and showed him his recording of Greensleeves. Edward calls him “the king of viol playing”. Such a lovely man, and a true musician.

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