Un salon de musique

Music Master:
A person like you, who lives magnificently and who has an inclination for fine things should hold a music concert here every Wednesday or every Thursday.

Monsieur Jourdain:
Is that what people of high-standing do?

Music Master:
Yes, Sir.

Monsieur Jourdain:
Then I shall do it.

Molière, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (The Bourgeois Gentleman)

If you believe Molière, around 1670 it was appropriate for a gentleman who is likewise a wealthy bourgeois, to have a salon de musique (or “musical gathering”). And, indeed, in the image of Philippe d’Orléans, who was a great music lover and the future regent, the nobles of the kingdom and the great Parisian bourgeois started musical gatherings in which musical creations were played. Among the bourgeois music lovers, Pierre Crozat stands out: through this man, “the richest in Paris”, concerts were held twice a week at his Paris hotel.

At that time, the musical gatherings were also common among the musicians themselves, for example: Michel Lambert, Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, at Mademoiselle Certain… Those who loved Italian music gathered at the priest Nicolas Mathieu where it was possible to discover the religious music of the Italian masters. One could also hear the motets of Bernier, Campra, Charpentier and even sonatas from Rebel, which were the first of their kind in France.

In addition to these music rooms, musical gatherings were also held where people would congregate for the pleasure of making and hearing music that was sometimes commissioned for the occasion. Thus, in 1723, Dornel provided a collection of symphonies for the “Concert des Mélophilètes”, which was founded by Pierre Crozat himself.

It is probable that some pieces by Jacques Hotteterre were heard at one of the salons. Indeed, the foreword to the First Book of pieces for the flute (1708) states that: These are the pieces that I had promised in the Traité de Flûte […]; but before producing them, I was glad to hear them and to consult the opinions of people capable of judging them with knowledge and without prejudice.

Could the programme on this disc have been heard in one of these salons? Marais, Philidor, Hotteterre and De Visée were musicians at Versailles, employees at the Grande Écurie (“Great Stable”) and at the King’s Chamber, and it is pleasing to imagine that they could share a musical moment together in a more intimate setting than that of the court. The pieces presented here have mostly been composed in the same period, between 1692 and 1717.

At the turn of the XVII and XVIII centuries, a new instrumental language was in the process of being born, and in France this birth takes place at the court but also in the recesses of the salons of the nobles, patrons, aficionados and intellectuals who offered a new space that was freer and more nuanced in its expression. Free of judgments from the press, and relieved of the fashions, tastes and requirements imposed by the major events in the court and theaters of the time, in the salon, musicians gave themselves to musical experimentation in an intimate dialogue between instruments and in daring harmonies…

Marin Marais (1656 – 1728)
Suite en sol mineur des Pièces en trio

Pierre Danican Philidor (1681 – 1731)
Suite pour deux dessus sans basse

Jacques Martin Hotteterre (1674-1763)
Sonate en si mineur

Marin Marais
Suite en sol majeur du troisième livre des pièces de viole

Louis-Antoine Dornel (1685 – 1765)
Troisième sonate en trio en si mineur