Viola da gamba Concert: Fire in the Belly


People’s Museum of Limerick

Sarah Groser, viola da gamba

Yonit Kosovske, harpsichord

Vlad Smishkewych, narrator

(40 mins, followed by Q&A)

French Baroque viol players and composers Marin Marais and Antoine Forqueray have been described as “the angel and the devil”—the former known for his sweet and gentle style, the latter for his earthy and gutsy style. Regardless of their differences, both were known to have been recognised virtuosos on the viola da gamba and established chamber musicians in the court of Louis XIV. Antoine’s son Jean-Baptiste Forqueray was also a viol player and composer, perhaps even more advanced in skill than his talented father. Jean-Baptiste was merely 5 years old when he performed before the King, who was immediately impressed. While the father and son had their own share of intense family drama full of jealousies and dysfunction (worthy of a reality TV show if they were around today), nonetheless in 1747 the younger Forqueray published 32 of his father’s works (alongside some of his own compositions) as pieces for viol with continuo, and again in 1749 for solo harpsichord, which was not entirely surprising, given that both his mother Henriette-Angélique Houssou and wife Marie-Rose Dubois were harpsichordists. These different versions—for viola da gamba and harpsichord—will be interwoven into this “Fire in the Belly” performance, featuring Forqueray’s Suite no 1 in D minor and Marais’ Suite no.2 in D major Book 4. This afternoon concert will conclude with a dramatized version of Marais’ Tableau de l’Opération de la Taille, a narrated depiction of a 17th-century urinary stone operation!

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