Between cavalcade, Persian garden and moonlight, the viola da gamba reveals an oriental tale in music.
DEATH SPEAKS: There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and, trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the market-place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the market-place and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.
—W. Somerset Maugham
Tale from Overseas combines this surprising story to excerpts of Marin Marais'masterpiece, the "Suitte d'un goût Etranger", a collection of 33 movements in a highly descriptive, exotic and adventurous style, deliberately intended 'for the advanced player'. Some of them refer directly to the East and other enchanting distant lands : 'the Tartar girl', 'the Arabesque', 'the American'...