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Tombeau les Regrets

Ste Colombe: Tombeau les Regrets Whereas England in the 16th and early 17th century was the home of the consort comprised of combinations of viols in varying sizes, France at the end of the 17th century led the way in cultivating a highly refined solo repertory on the bass viol very much associated with the court of Louis XIV. Perhaps the signal event marking a new era in French viol playing was Ste. Colombe's addition of a lower seventh string to the bass viola da gamba, which endowed this already versatile instrument with a remarkably expanded tessitura encompassing in effect the alto, tenor and bass ranges. Contrary to what one might think from a recent French film (Tous les matins du monde), very little can be pieced together about the obscure Sieur de Ste. Colombe aside from the fact that he added the seventh string, played viols together with his daughters and taught the young Marin Marais, who memorialised his teacher in one of his greatest works, the Tombeau de Monsieur de Ste. Colombe, published in 1701. While Ste Colombe may have been a fine player, his compositions - which only began to surface in the 1970s - do not on the whole make a particularly strong impression, with some notable exceptions. One of these, itself a memorial piece, is entitled Tombeau Les Regrets. Rather than represent one long funeral oration, Ste. Colombe's Tombeau depends on classical illusions to form a simple programmatic narrative comprised of short and differentiated sections. The Tombeau lament is followed by a mass of funereal bells called Quarillon, which leads into the call of Charon, the greedy river boatman rowing the dead to the realm of Hades, a section called Les pleurs, the melancholy tears of the dead who do not yet know their fate, and then finally the Joye des Elyizée, the joy of the Elysian fields, where the virtuous and the heroic find eternal contentment.

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