Program – Mara! meets Marais

John Dowland (1563 – 1626) – Now O Now

Marin Marais (1656 – 1728) – Pièces de viole, cinquième livre, Paris 1725

Rondeau le doucereux

Idée grotesque

Double de L’ ideé grotesque


La Demoi Gigue

Martin Codax (13th century) – Cantigas de Amigo

Cantiga 1: Ondas do mar de Vigo

Cantiga 2: Mandad’ ei comigo

Cantiga 3: Mia irmana fremosa

Cantiga 4: Ay Deus, se sab’ora meu amigo

Cantiga 5: Quantas sabedes amar amigo

Cantiga 6: Eno sagrado Vigo

Cantiga 7: Ay ondas que eu vin veer

Marin Marais – Pièces de viole, quatrieme livre, Paris 1717

Le Basque


Branle de Village

Anonymous (18th Cent.) – Jeunes Fillettes

Anonymous (13th Cent.)Byrd one brere

Anonymous – Por aýi  pasó un kavayero

CD Launch – Professor Anna Reid, Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning), Sydney Conservatorium

Program notes

Although John Dowland was known in his lifetime as a virtuoso lutenist and singer,  he was also a gifted composer of great originality. His greatest works are inspired by deeply felt, tragic concepts of life and a preoccupation with tears, sin, darkness and death. He raised the level of English song to new heights, matching perfectly in music the mood and emotion of the verse.

John Dowland

Marin Marais provided the original reason for being for The Marais Project. Jennifer Eriksson formed the ensemble in 2000 to perform Marais’ complete works for the viola da gamba.  These 600 pieces are contained in his five volume Pièces de Violes.  Pieces is increasingly seen by musicologists and performers alike as of vital musical and pedagogical significance: a summary of the musical possibilities of the viola da gamba that stands as equal with any similar collection for other instruments.  As at 2012 The Project is about 80% through the wonderful task of “playing through” Marais.  Over the years The Project has continued to expand its repertoire and musical interests but we always come back to our roots. The first suite today  is one of our favourites.  It also seems to be much loved by the ABC who have broadcast it regularly since “Mara! meets Marais” was released.

Marin Marais

The song cycle Cantigas de Amigo is attributed to Martin Codax, a troubadour who is said to have flourished in Galicia during the late 13th Century. The cantiga de amigo is a genre of Iberian medieval poetry (written in the voice of a woman, to an absent lover), and this is the only example to have survived with music. Written in the northern Spanish dialect of Gallician-Portugese, which was in common use during the Medieval period, it features seven short poems, six of which were set to music (one appearing with blank staves). The manuscript was discovered in Madrid in 1914, by a bookseller who found it had been used to bind a manuscript of Cicero’s “De officiis”. Shortly afterwards, the manuscript disappeared again, resurfacing when it was purchased by the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York in 1977.  Mara Kiek performed this song cycle extensively during the 1980s and recorded it in 1987 for Hyperion Records with Sinfonye (featuring Stevie Wishart, Andrew Lawrence-King and Jim Denley). The album, “Bella Domna”, was re-released in 2006 by Hyperion on their Helios label.  The sixth poem, which appeared without music, has been set by Mara Kiek.

The first of several “anonymous” songs we perform today, Jeunes Fillettes is a French Bergerette, also known as a shepherdess air.  It dates from the 18th century.  The bergerette form appears to draw on the earlier 16th century pastoral song tradition as “bergerette” is the diminutive form of “bergère”, the French word for shepherdess.

Bryd one brere or “Bird on a briar” dates from around 1300 and is considered the earliest English love song.  It was found written on the back of a Papal Bull, an edict of the pope with his seal affixed, dated 1199. It was written in, or at least belonged to, the Priory of Saint James, near Exeter. When it was written, c.1290-1320, the Papal Bull document was about a century old. Mara learnt ‘Bryd one brere’ from Winsome Evans, and performed it with the Renaissance Players during the 1980’s. Since then Mara and Llew have performed it many times as a duo, but never have recorded it except for the soundtrack of the short film ” Moth” by Meryl Tankard in 2011. The version performed today will appear on a new Marais Project CD to be released  later in 2012 or early 2013.

The ballad fragment Por aýi  pasó un kavayero is part of a much older and longer Spanish ballad (formal title – “La Dama y el Pastor” the Lady and the Shepherd), and is related to other “seductress” ballads, and the theme of the serrana, the mountain girl who goes after men.  It is the earliest known ballad text to have been written down without music and it can still be found in much of Spain in oral tradition. Por aýi  pasó un kavayero survived in fragment in Sephardic culture with various tunes depending on where it was being sung, and this particular version is Turkish, or at least Ottoman, Sephardic. The melody we have chosen is an adaptation of a tune sourced by Winsome Evans from an anthology of Sephardic music loaned to her by Rabbi Apple, of the Great Synagogue in Sydney. Llew and Mara wish to gratefully acknowledge the enormous debt they owe to Winsome Evans for her dedication and generosity over many years as musician, colleague, mentor and friend.

Program notes by Mara Kiek, Jennifer Eriksson & Philip Pogson with contributions from Dr Judith Cohen on the history of Por aýi  pasó un kavayero.