The works selected for Pardessus de viole present a vibrant array of French musical styles, which developed during the eighteenth century until the French Revolution. The origin and development of the pardessus de viole — known in France as "the woman's violin" — coincided with the increasing prominence of the violin in French instrumental fashion. The crowning glory of the viola da gamba family, the pardessus facilitated the instruments’ rise in popularity in France.
Most of the works performed here are unpublished and few have been recorded. They were selected from the microfilm collections of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. At the time of their composition, these pieces catered to a large public, responding to widespread demand for refined entertainment. They are without exception charming, playful, luminous and exquisitely elegant.
The pardessus de viole used for this recording belongs to the unique Hart House Collection of the University of Toronto. This rare exemplar from 1710 is from the workshop of Nicolas Bertrand, one of the great French “faiseurs d’instruments” of the period.