Rebel was introduced to the Parisian
court as a child prodigy. He lived to
enjoy a long and productive career as
a violinist and composer. Commencing
as a member of the court of Louis XIV,
by 1699 Rebel has become first violinist
of the Académie Royale de Musique.
He journeyed to Spain the following
year, and was given a place in the 24
Violons du Roy on his return in
1705. Rebel served as Court Composer,
a Maître de Musique at the Académie
and became director of the Concert Spirituel.
A major protagonist
in the passionate debate over the Italian
versus the French schools, Rebel championed
the more contemporary style of composition.
Later in his career in 1737 Rebel gained
fame for the wildly chaotic and aberrant
choreographed orchestral suite, ‘Les
Elemens’ in which he experimented
briefly but dramatically with atonalism.
The thunderous dissonance which opens
‘Les Elemens’ is probably the
most shocking and original single bar
of music composed up to that time. It
is especially extraordinary to reflect
that the score was written by a 71-year-old
whose music had been previously praised
for its 'wisdom, taste and tenderness'
and its avoidance of the 'frightening
An inspection will
reveal that there are still only a small
number of recordings by Rebel in the
catalogue. Undoubtedly the highpoint
so far has been the eminently successful
release of eight of Rebel’s Violin
Sonatas performed by violist Andrew
Manze; harpsichordist Richard Egarr
and viola de gamba player Jaap ter Linden.
The recording on the Harmonia Mundi
label HMU907221 gained substantial acclaim
and won the prestigious Gramophone Magazine’s
Critic’s Choice award in 1999.
was one of the first composers to find
a place for the Trio Sonata in
French music. The Sonata a tre first
appeared in Italy at the start of the
seventeenth century and has evolved
to become the central instrumental form
in chamber music with the composer Corelli
at the core of developments. The Italian
form of Trio Sonata later appeared
in France, although with some reluctance
the style was gradually adopted. Two
types of Trio Sonata had emerged.
Rebel, who liked to
give his compositions descriptive names,
paid attention to both the Sonata
da camera and the Sonata da Chiesa
types of Trio Sonata. Rather
than merely imitate, Rebel used them
as templates for his thoroughly individual
music. For example the La Junon,
La Venus, La Pallas and L’Immortelle
with their fast, slow, fast,
slow movements appear to be mainly
influenced by the model of the Sonata
da Chiesa. Conversely La Flore
and L’Apollan inclines to
follow the pattern of the Sonata
da camera with its series of contrasting
dance movements. However Le Tombeau
de Monsieur de Lully appears to
be a fusion between the best of both
styles. Furthermore the work
also has additional compositional weight
and a longer duration compared to the
other works on this release.
Recorded in 1994 and
1996 the Ensemble Rebel use authentic
instruments or period copies. Led by
baroque violinist Jorg-Michael Schwarz,
a second violin, viola de gamba and
harpsichord or organ they perform works
expressly composed for the viola de
gamba as a continuo instrument.
The blend of the individual
voices from the Ensemble Rebel is impeccable.
The players display a sure quality of
tone and subtle colouring which is perfectly
lovely. In the feature-work their account
of the Le Tombeau de Monsieur de
Lully is given an exceptionally
sensitive and endearing performance
where nothing is rushed or effusive.
This recording of late
baroque Trio Sonatas from Rebel
is surely one of the finest of the series
of reissues from the DHM label.