Andrew Manze with the Academy of Ancient Music | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Andrew Manze with the Academy of Ancient Music 

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ANDREW MANZE WITH THE ACADEMY OF ANCIENT MUSIC

Despite the disappointingly middle-of-the-road fare chosen for Andrew Manze's maiden voyage as associate director of the Academy of Ancient Music, the British violinist's appearances this weekend are highly recommended. Anyone who's had the good fortune to hear Manze with the trio called Romanesca--founded by lutenist Nigel North, focusing on lesser-known violin composers of Italy and Austria--knows why: he's a stunning, technically top-notch player willing to push beyond mere technocracy or period-instrument preciousness to the heart of the music. In particular, Romanesca's two-disc compendium of the eight violin sonatas of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (released on Harmonia Mundi/France) is a dazzling showcase for Manze, whose spirited revivification of the 17th-century Bohemian experimentalist won Gramophone's top award for 1995. His recent exploration of Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, Biber's contemporary and possible violin teacher, is equally fascinating, right down to Manze's liner notes (he's also an early-music scholar). On these and various Telemann, Vivaldi, and Bach outings, Manze justifies frequent comparisons to Gypsy violinists; he's got the sparkle, wit, and fire to bring the dreariest of Baroque warhorses to life. For this tour, Manze joins the esteemed Academy, directed by Christopher Hogwood, to celebrate their new release of Bach's solo and double violin concertos (on Harmonia Mundi/USA). Both programs include Bach's familiar Concerto in A Minor and Handel's Concerto Grosso in E Minor. Sunday, 7:30 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 312-294-3000. Monday, 8 PM, Edman Memorial Chapel, Wheaton College, Washington and Franklin, Wheaton; 630-752-5010. JOHN CORBETT

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Philip Mechanicus.

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