Notes and Editorial Reviews
Read about Jean-Féry Rebel in any textbook or dictionary, and you will find the same remark made by one of his contemporaries: 'Rebel truly has something of the Italian genius and fire in him, but he has had the good taste and the sense to temper them with French wisdom and tenderness.' What that means when it comes to the practical business of performing his music is uncertain, but it is clearly something that occupied Andrew Manze's mind before this, his first-ever foray into the French baroque repertory with eight of Rebel's 12 seldom-heard violin sonatas of 1713. The results are unusual: Manze, never short of genius or fire in the Italian and Austrian repertory he has recorded up to now, here relaxes his sound, making gentle and
subtle use of tempo and dynamics and only occasionally breaking out into the impassioned lyricism of which he has shown himself so capable. But that does not mean to say that he has simply plugged into the fashionable French baroque sound with its easy grace and polite twiddles: one can easily imagine these sonatas being played in just such a pretty manner, but Manze has instead looked deep into the music and extracted from it a great variety of expression. including in many places an unexpected darkness, a brooding restraint immediately apparent in the
grave movements with which some of these sonatas open, but seldom far away even in the apparently carefree musettes, rondeaux or allemandes. It brings to the music an unexpected emotional edge, even a touch of menace.
Perhaps there is something more English than French in such veiled melancholy, but these are highly personal performances in any case; probably only Manze would (or perhaps could) play them this way. For that reason they may not appeal to everyone, but it would be a mean spirit who could not admire the intelligence and imagination which is so lovingly brought to this. Andrew Manze is carving out quite a reputation for himself as a period-instrument virtuoso in the more arcane byways of the string repertoire of the eighteenth century's neglected music. Combined with the sympathetic contributions of Richard Egarr and Jaap ter Linden, this is baroque chamber music-making of the highest order.
– Gramophone [4/1999]
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