Mrs. Sadie, back in the 1980s, reviewed this recording (quite critically) in Gramophone,+b+2533414+(579),+C+2534010+(883).). She's in love with Charles Medlam's playing on the viol da gamba, but not so much with Goebel on top. To wit:
[the Rebel is] marred by heavy-footed ornamentation emanating from the violin. On a work by Marais, she quips: Reinhard Goebel attempts to elevate the violin part to the status of the viol's and succeeds only in misshaping it. And Marais's echo effects are ignored. I fell in love with this recording in the 1990s, when it belonged to the music collection at the Cuyahoga County Library system. I'd go borrow recordings (this on CD) from the Bay Village branch, and at one point, I'd enjoy the music that I had transferred to tape. It was recently found on iTunes, and I couldn't resist owning this piece of MAK history. Composers represented include Marais (La Sonnerie de Sainte-Geneivève), Rebel, Couperin (La Sultane), Leclair (overture, op. 13, no. 2), the Blavet flute concerto (already released on a reissue of French baroque concertos), and one of Corrette's concerto "comiques." Sadie seems to hate this piece. Of course, Mrs. Sadie had nice things to say too, but you often no longer read reviews like hers. She knows her stuff. Wife to perhaps the more famous Stanley Sadie, editor of the Grove Encyclopedia, she often reviewed the baroque recordings for Gramophone. For one, Tombeau de Monsieur Lully is an awesome piece, despite Mrs. Satie's dismissal of it as something of a second rate composer. In a recent (yet to be reviewed) recording by Amandine Beyer of Rebel, new life is breathed into this work, but I still like MAK's as well. What I admire about Satie's review is that she's really critical; she's looking into just about every detail. I found Medlam's playing nice, but we all know the star of any of these MAK recordings is Goebel. Let him shine. The third movement of the Leclair seems a tad fussy with the rhythm and the unison treatment of the trills. I am not enough expert to know if this is kosher or not; but their method of executing this movement really slows things down (compared to Medlam's later recording with London Baroque). It takes on a dance-like feel with the accents. The Blavet concerto and Corrette are sublime. I have more difficulty with MAK's reading of the Couperin. Sadie notes that this work is a nice companion to the collection of four other instrumental suites known as Les Nations. (This collection is well done by MAK with two violins and two flutes taking the top honors released likely earlier than this release under Archiv's Galleria label.) La Sultane features the bass viol with it's own line. I might agree with Sadie; the third movement, labeled Air-Gravement lacks direction it seems… it's hard to listen to, in fact, with an absence of a real line. The pauses are hard to perform convincingly. If I were to imagine someone like Paolo Pandolfo with this music, I imagine the bass instrument might better command the line. When the two violins emerge, it's like light is coming out from behind the clouds, but when all three voices join forces, Sadie is right; it is Goebel who dominates the texture. It might not even be Goebel's fault; it seems to me that the engineers could have made more equal partners out of the texture. Their flamboyant crescendos in the last phrase are somewhat surprising; I've never quite heard something like this from an ensemble of players before. Medlam's match for Goebel (and presumably Hajo Baß) really isn't a fair competition; acoustically and sonically I'd prefer a more equal matching in the sound. What's left is perhaps too thin a sound (thin being an unfair choice of words, whereby I what I really mean is top-heavy). More bass, less Baß. It's weird for sure reviewing a CD that's this old. MAK matured beyond this recording, as did the technology to record it. Yet, I still think, my history with the recording aside, that it still has life today in 2011. The recording is a wonderful companion to other releases, many newer, in celebrating the world of the French instrumental baroque.