Amandine Beyer and Christophe Rousset are both accomplished French musicians who have devoted much of their careers to promoting music from the Baroque period, much of it not well known. Each has formed a performing ensemble, Gli Incogniti by Beyer and Rousset’s Les Talens Lyriques for this purpose. While the Baroque is the primary concern, each also has resurrected works from later periods if there is a sense of their being relatively unknown or ripe for reinterpretation.
After completing her studies of modern violin at the Paris Conservatory and having written a dissertation on Karlheinz Stockhausen, she ultimately discovered that her bliss was Early Music. She subsequently studied in Basel with Chiara Banchini, studies that enabled her to discover the world of historically informed interpretation and enjoy working with musicians such as Hopkinson Smith, or Pedro Memelsdorff (she played several years in the medieval ensemble Mala Punica).
Founded by Amandine Beyer in 2006, Gli Incogniti takes its name from the Venetian Accademia degli incogniti, and attempts also to adopt the spirit of the name it bears by cultivating a taste for the unknown in all its forms: experimentation with sonorities, seeking out new repertoire, and the taking a new interpretative approach to the well-known works such as The Four Seasons.
Earlier recordings were devoted to reinterpreting the canonical works of Vivaldi and Bach, but Gli Incogniti’s more recent recordings have been dedicated to composers less known: Nicola Matteis (2009) and Johann Rosenmuller (2010).
Christophe Rousset studied harpsichord at La Schola Cantorum in Paris with Huguette Dreyfus, and subsequently at the Conservatoire Royal at The Hague with Bob van Asperen winning the prestigious First Prize in the 7th Bruges Harpsichord Competition at the age of 22. This was followed by the creation of his own ensemble, Les Talens Lyriques, in 1991. At the heart of the ensemble is Rousset’s academic research and specialism in the music of the Baroque, Classical and pre-Romantic periods.
Rousset subsequently formed Les Talens Lyriques, an ensemble dedicated to performing some of the more flamboyant operatic and orchestral works from the 18th century. His approach was iconoclastic. He showed that Rameau’s orchestral music, deemed stuffy by some, had a sensual opulence and a relentless energy. Rousset also placed little-known operas alongside music by more familiar composers, with Niccolo Jomelli’s Armida Abbandonata and Tomasso Traetta’s Antigona joining works by Handel and Mozart. His resurrection of Antigona in particular forced a reappraisal of Traetta, whose music, long relegated to the status of a footnote in musical history, was suddenly being compared to that of Mozart and Gluck.
Teaching is also of major importance to both Rousset and Beyer.
Christophe Rousset, who conducts and organises master classes and academies for young people (Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, CNSMD Paris, Académie d’Ambronay, Orchestre Français des Jeunes Baroques, Jeune Orchestre Atlantique, Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, the Britten-Pears Orchestra) and he devotes himself with great energy, alongside the musicians of Les Talens Lyriques, to introducing young secondary school pupils in Paris to music.
Since 2004, Amandine Beyer has taught a course at Barbaste, in France, and another in the Early Music Department at ESMAE, the music faculty of Porto in Portugal, and in September 2010, she began to teach at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, sharing the class with Leila Schayegh.