Graphic music to ease the pain

The Advertiser, Monday 13th June 2011

Facing surgery for removal of a gallstone? Be of good cheer.

There is a piece of music written just for you.

Actually, Le Tableau de l'Operation de la Taille is not particularly cheerful.

There were no anaesthetics in 1725.

Its composer Marin Marais, court musician to Louis XIV at Versaille, is thought to have written about the surgery from direct experience.

Graphic music for viola da gamba and continuo is further elucidated by explicit text read aloud - the patient is tied down with silk knots, the incision is made, blood flows, he is taken to bed.

Adelaide Baroque was spoilt for choice in its glimpse of the unimaginably rich daily musical life of 18th century French royalty. Lynton Rivers and Jayne Varnish (recorders), Catherine Finnis and Laura Vaughan (viola da gamba) and Lesley Lewis (harpsichord) captured the essence of more than a century's worth.

Commentaries in French by Philippe Marse and his declamations of the Tableau's gory details authenticated the event.

Soprano Tessa Miller topped the bill with Rameau's cantata Orphee. Continuing to grow in vocal power and projection, more than ever able to convey extremes of emotion with only her voice and simple gestures, she acted out the timeless tale of the bereaved husband's journey into the Underground.

Lucky Louis. Music all day every day.

Special music even for getting him undressed and putting him to bed. And finally, Lully's jolly Marche pour la Ceremonie turque, all in together plus Miller on tambourine and Marse on hand-drum.