LABELS: Zig Zag
ALBUM TITLE: Rebel
WORKS: Sonatas for Violins and Basso Continuo
PERFORMER: Amandine Beyer, Alba Roca (violin), Baldomero Barciela (bass viol), Ronaldo Lopes (theorbo), Chiao-Pin Kuo (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: ZZT 051102
I almost wrote off this ensemble, intriguingly named L’Assemblée des Honnestes Curieux after a group founded in mid-17th-century Paris, after hearing them on one of the worst engineered discs I’ve ever
come across (trios by Marais on Opus 111 – don’t touch it). I was wrong. In fact, I must get their earlier Zig Zag disc (of Handel) because here, they’re nothing but a revelation: stylish, sensitive – the best interpreters of Rebel’s chamber music I’ve yet heard. Not by a huge margin, as Rebel is well served on CD, by Andrew Manze (Harmonia Mundi) and Germany’s Ensemble Rebel (DHM). Zig Zag’s recording is closer than both and more luscious; while violin number one, Amandine Beyer, could clearly give Manze several runs for his money. In the end, though, L’Assemblée’s rich, responsive continuo tips the balance.
A precocious protégé of Lully and Louis, Rebel is best known for his ballets, especially Les Elemens with its 12-tone Chaos. But these strikingly imaginative Sonatas, composed in the 1690s though only published almost 20 years later, show Rebel as a worthy pupil of Lully, whose memory he movingly celebrates here in a poignant Tombeau; worthy too to stand alongside France’s other pioneers of the sonata – even Couperin. Nick Morgan