Paolo Pandolfo and Ensemble—a Rare Bay Area Sighting

Barefoot Chamber Concerts and MusicSources are combining to present a very special event: the legendary Paolo Pandolfo (the Yo-Yo Ma of the viola da gamba) with 3 of his closest collaborators playing a concert of music for Louis XIV, entitled “Paris 1689: A Revolution for the Sun King.” The program is based on music by Marin Marais, and includes pieces by François Couperin and Robert de Visée. The program will be at the Church of Saint Mary Magdalen, 2005 Berryman Street, Berkeley, at 8:00 p.m. on March 9.

Paolo Pandolfo writes, “It is as if the French Revolution started one century in advance: breaking all rules, musicians ascended all social layers thanks to their talent, not bound to their often humble origins. The young son of a shoe-maker could become Ordinaire de la Chambre Du Roi, as Marin Marais did at only 23 years of age, and a modest family of provincial musicians could provide two of the greatest names of the French musical firmament: Louis and François Couperin.

“Published between 1686 and 1689, Marais’ 1st book of Pièces de Violes sets a ‘before’ and ‘after’ in the French musical tradition, and influences all later publications for the viol. It combines the stunning virtuosity of the ‘Sujet Diversité’ (half-way between the English tradition of “divisions on a ground” and Marais’ later ‘Folies d’Espagne’) and the fully mature French style of the two magnificent Suites for two viols. In those years François Couperin was a young ascending star, and Robert De Visée had already published two music books dedicated to his favorite student . . . the King. This ‘Fin de Siècle’ establishes French excellence in Europe, and contains the seeds of its inevitable demise.”

This is a rare opportunity to hear the greatest modern master of the favorite instrument of “The Sun King” (the viola da gamba), in an ensemble that matches his extraordinary talents. Pandolfo studied with, then played with and recorded with Jordi Savall at the Schola Cantorum in Basel in the 90s, and then took over from Savall as the viola da gamba teacher, a post he has maintained for the past 25 years. Both as a teacher and performer he is legendary. He has recorded seemingly everything written for the viola da gamba, and many transcriptions of music for other instruments (such as the complete suites by Bach originally written for solo cello).

Barefoot Chamber Concerts presents Paolo Pandolfo, viola da gamba and artistic director; Amélie Chemin, viola da gamba; Markus Hunniger, harpsichord; and Thomas Boysen, theorbo, performing “Paris 1689, A Revolution for the Sun King,”Friday, March 9, at 8:00 p.m., at Saint Mary Magdalene Church, 2005 Berryman Street, Berkeley. Tickets are $40 general (unitary pricing); 18 and under admitted free and welcome. Purchase tickets at the door or order online (recommended) at https://pandolfo.brownpapertickets.com/.