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I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

Rebel: Sonates pour violons et basse continue

Beyer Rebel Amandine Beyer and L'Assemblée des Honnestes Curiuex have recorded works by Jean-Féry Rebel (Tombeau de Monsieur Lully, Sonate 5, Sonate L'Apollon, Sonate 6, Sonate La Pallas and Sonate 11 (B-flat major). Rebel has been an oft-recognized name in the world of French baroque music; although there is not a significant amount of work on record. This new recording features some of his better-known works, instrumental gems for violins and basso continuo. These young baroque specialists sound good on this recording for Zig-Zag Territoires. The violinists, however, are the strongest of the musicians, with Amandine Beyer in first position. The opening work features a favorite, the Tombeau for Monsieur Lully. The piece is well-played, but my two biggest issues might be the tempi chosen for the contrasting sections. I'm a fan of fast, so readers might be surprised to hear I think they take a few of the sections too quickly. The viola da gamba, complaint #2, is just not robust enough. And in this piece, that instrument should play a more profound role, at least sonically. The nasal quality of the violins in the faster stretches might concern some, but the group sounds best (and richest) during the slower passes. I appreciate that the piece is broken up into sections in the track list to easily jump around. The next sonata is brilliantly played by Beyer with what I might call a very French violin sound. These ideas of mine about a French sound versus, say, Italian, probably has no basis in scholarship, but one born out of a lot of listening by your impressionable reviewer. The sound here is well captured in terms of acoustical balance (up close but still with natural reverb), but Beyer's violin has a darkness to it that reminds me of Andrew Manze's (using an a=392 tuning) in his reading of Rebel's violin sonatas. Manze's interpretation was nice, but more so I liked that album for it's color and mood. Across an entire album, it got monotonous, but thankfully Beyer changes the mood and dynamics far more effectively than Manze with Egarr and ter Linden. When Beyer has the opportunity to show off her technical chops, she always does so with virtuosic results. The minor mode and a low comma of the music for the bass part is a gracious recipe for richness in the 6th sonata realized with gamba, bass lute, harpsichord, and of course Beyer on violin. Once again, for balance, the viola da gamba could be putting out more sound: it either needs to get closer to the microphone or be better balanced by the engineer. Jean-Féry Rebel ought to be better known for works like this sonata; the magic goes beyond mere notes (Bach's music, for instance, is so much about the notes that it translates so well to other instruments) and it's through a historically-informed performance like this that we amp-up the drama. Rebel is about a different sound world, and while Beyer and Co. may not take advantage of every opportunity to exploit what Monsieur Jean-Féry left us, they do present us that "sound world" piece that's critical to appreciating Rebel's music.

Neapolitan Cello Concertos

Bach Cantatas - Volume 25 - English Baroque Soloists