Louis Caix d'Hervelois: Suite in A major Op 6,1 für Traversflöte oder Pardessus de Viole und Basso continuo....

Caix d'Hervelois' main output was suites and sonatas for one or two bass viols with continuo which were very popular in his time and there was a demand for versions of his works accessible to amateur performers on treble instruments. This suite is the first from a collection of 1736. It consists of prelude, allemande, sarabande, muzette, "La Badine", two minuets, and two untitled movements - both in 6/8 time; the second being a lively Gigue.

Not possessing a pardessus I played through the part on a treble viol and found that although obviously harder without a top G string, most of the music is perfectly playable on treble viol so other treble players should not be put off by lack of a pardessus. The only real exception to that was the muzette which contains a passage involving several top E's. The muzette is interesting in another way; the bass line is diveded into upper and lower parts with the upper part duetting with the treble part, thus giving a brief trio-sonata format. A second play-through, this time with the treble part played on transverse flute revealed one or two points - my playing companion mentioned that in several movements there are no natural places to breathe and that there are passages which lie rather high for a flute.

We started out thinking that the first few movements were rather run of the mill but as we progressed through the suite we enjoyed it more and more, expecially as in many of the later movements the bass part is as busy and interesting as the treble part.

The music is printed in full score with a realised keyboard part and two copies of the treble and figured bass parts printed together which are easy and informative to play from.

Elizabeth Dodd,
The Viol No 6: May 2007