Mary Cyr addresses the needs of researchers, performers, and informed listeners who wish to apply knowledge about historically informed performance to specific pieces. Special emphasis is placed upon the period 1680 to 1760, when the viol, violin, and violoncello grew to prominence as solo instruments in France. Part I deals with the historical background to the debate between the French and Italian styles and the features that defined French style. Part II summarizes the present state of research on bowed string instruments (violin, viola, cello, contrebasse, pardessus de viole, and viol) in France, including such topics as the size and distribution of parts in ensembles and the role of the contrebasse. Part III addresses issues and conventions of interpretation such as articulation, tempo and character, inequality, ornamentation, the basse continue, pitch, temperament, and "special effects" such as tremolo and harmonics. Part IV introduces four composer profiles that examine performance issues in the music of Ã‰lisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, Marin Marais, Jean-Baptiste Barrière, and the Forquerays (father and son). The diversity of compositional styles among this group of composers, and the virtuosity they incorporated in their music, generate a broad field for discussing issues of performance practice and offer opportunities to explore controversial themes within the context of specific pieces.
Mary Cyr is Professor Emerita of Music at the University of Guelph, Canada.
'Careful consideration of the intersection of written and unwritten music is of the utmost importance to all musicians, but particularly to those whose chosen repertory was born in years long before audio recordings were possible. French music composed between 1680 and 1760 presents stylistic and aesthetic challenges into which viol players in particular have been given insights by player-composers of the time. Mary Cyr generously shares not only her knowledge as a performer, but also her expertise as a musicologist researching seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music in a rigorous scholarly examination of the bowed strings and their techniques and repertory. This book is essential reading, not only for bowed string instrument players, but for anyone who wishes to perform the glorious music of the French Baroque.' Wendy Gillespie, Professor of Music, Indiana University, USA 'This is a beautifully-written account of string instruments, technique, style and repertoire in France during the Baroque era. Mary Cyr knows her sources intimately and discusses them with a fine musical intelligence. This volume is a welcome addition to the literature on historical performance practice.' Peter Walls, Emeritus Professor of Music, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand 'Mary Cyr’s work is a welcome and much needed addition to the gambist’s library... The value of this work is unquestionable, especially for musicians who may be taking their first steps with a baroque string instrument or historical performance practice. More experienced early music performers and musicologists may find this work an eye opener to repertoires or techniques with which they are less familiar.' Viola da Gamba Society Journal 'Cyr's handbook on French style neatly fills a gap in the literature, bringing together a wealth of primary source material in a way that performers will find easy to use... Her organized, lucid approach will pique interest in the topic and inspire the curious reade