Harmonia Early Music

La Belle Danse

The celebrated 17th-century orchestra, the 24 Violons of Versailles, included many different sizes of violon.

Gardens at Versailles

Photo: UggBoy (flickr)

Nature and art combine for the pleasure of visitors to the gardens at Versailles.

The 24 Violons of Versailles often play music that was in five parts. The top line was played on six violins more or less the same size as the modern violin, and six basses de violon that are larger and lower in pitch than the modern cello played the bottom line. Various sizes of viola played the middle three parts, four to a part.

The Centre de Music Baroque de Versailles has a collection of these French-style violons.  We hear them in a live recording of Skip Sempé’s Capriccio Stravagante Les 24 Violons made in Utrecht in 2010 for the Paradizo label. The sound of the violons is supplemented by woodwinds, harpsichords and theorbos.

Luigi Rossi: Track 19: Fantaisie : Les Pleurs d'Orphée
Capriccio Stravagante — LA BELLE DANSE: Ballets Anciens & Modernes (Paradizo, 2011)
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album cover

William Brade: Track 13: Paduana a 6
Capriccio Stravagante — LA BELLE DANSE: Ballets Anciens & Modernes (Paradizo, 2011)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Luigi Rossi: Track 19: Fantaisie : Les Pleurs d'Orphée
Capriccio Stravagante — LA BELLE DANSE: Ballets Anciens & Modernes (Paradizo, 2011)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Wendy Gillespie

Wendy Gillespie is Professor of Music, teaching early bowed strings and performance studies, at the Early Music Institute of the Jacobs School of Music, Bloomington, IN and President of the VdGSA. As a viola da gamba player, she has made more than 80 CDs and performed on five continents.

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