Albums

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Classical - Released September 29, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
For their first recording, the Arod Quartet has selected Mendelssohn, one of the pillars of the quartet's art, in particular his masterpiece, the Fourth Quartet in E Minor of June 1837 - more Mozartian than Beethovian in its structure and development, to be sure, even if it bears Mendelssohn's hallmark from the first note to the last. To find the influence of the deaf genius, we have to look in the Second Quartet Op. 13 of 1827, a work written shortly after Beethoven's death, the full extent of whose innovations Mendelssohn was only just discovering. The Arod Quartet continues its album with Four Pieces for Quartet, assembled posthumously and numbered Op. 81 by Mendelssohn's successor at the Gewandhaus, Julius Rietz, and based on four disparate pieces from various eras. Finally, the album closes with the Arod's re-interpretaton of a Lied, sung here by Marianne Crebassa, whose theme takes in several passages from Beethoven note for note, a real homage from the young composer to his illustrious elder. It’s worth noting that the Arod Quartet, only founded in 2013, has shot to global prominence, having performed at the Paris Philharmonic, the Louvre Auditorium, the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, the Metz Arsenal, and further afield the Salzburg Mozarteum, the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Zurich Tonhalle, London's Wigmore Hall, as well as in Tokyo, Finland, Switzerland... the list goes on! © SM/Qobuz
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French Music - Released September 29, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

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For this double album, pianist Alexandre Tharaud invited a spectacular array of guest performers to join him in paying tribute to the great French singer-songwriter known simply as Barbara. One of the icons of the poetic chanson française, Barbara shares a place of honour with two other ‘B’s’, Jacques Brel and Georges Brassens. Among her most celebrated songs are ‘Ma plus belle histoire d'amour’, ‘Göttingen’, ‘Dis, quand reviendras-tu?’, ‘Mes hommes’ and ‘Nantes’. It is 20 years since Barbara died, aged 67, on November 24th 1997. Alexandre Tharaud’s idea for this album dates back to the day of her funeral. He, like many other fans, went to the cemetery in Bagneux on the outskirts of Paris. After the crowds and TV cameras had departed, a group of devotees remained at her grave and joined in an impromptu rendition of her songs. “I realised then that Barbara would live on through our voices,” says Tharaud. “I was young, but the recording studio was already central to my life. That morning, at Bagneux Cemetery, I vowed to make an album dedicated entirely to the music of Barbara. I needed time, and singers … The guests on this album are not those anonymous mourners, but dear friends I have invited to lend their own unique voices to this tribute” . For Hommage à Barbara, Tharaud has assembled a rich and imaginative line-up of performers from a variety of generations and diverse artistic and cultural backgrounds. While there is inevitably a Gallic bias among them, many of their names are well known around the globe. Among them are: actress-singers Juliette Binoche, Vanessa Paradis and Jane Birkin; rock star Radio Elvis; singer-songwriters Bénabar, Juliette, Dominique A, Tim Dup, Jean-Louis Aubert and Albin de la Simone; singers Camélia Jordana, Rokia Traoré, Hindi Zahra and Luz Casal; actor-director Guillaume Gallienne; Erato violinist Renaud Capuçon, clarinettist Michel Portal and the Modigliani string quartet. Alexandre Tharaud himself plays on nearly all the tracks – not just piano, but also electronic organ and keyboards, celesta and bells. Barbara was born in Paris in 1930 as Monique Serf, but she adopted her stage name from her grandmother, Varvara Brodsky, who had been born in Odessa. Her family was Jewish, and she was forced into hiding during World War II. Her suffering as a child was compounded by her sexually abusive father who eventually deserted the family when she was in her teens. She had some conservatory training as both a singer and pianist, but soon began to make her living as a performer, and spent a formative period working in Brussels in the early 1950s. She returned to Paris, where she became friends with the Belgian-born Jacques Brel and built a reputation in the clubs of the Latin Quarter, notably L’Écluse on the banks of the Seine. Her career began to take off in the early 1960s when she attracted attention with songs that she had written herself. Barbara became an important and much-loved figure, sometimes known as ‘La Dame en noir’, a reference to her penchant for elegant black dresses. If her signature number was ‘Ma plus belle histoire d'amour’, her song ‘Göttingen’, named after the city in Saxony, became an anthem of reconciliation for France and Germany; indeed, on the 40th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty in 2003, the then German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, quoted the song in his speech at Versailles. She was a favourite of François Mitterrand, France’s President from 1981-1995, developed a creative collaboration with the actor Gérard Depardieu, and in 1986 performed with ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov in a glittering gala at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. In the course of the 1980s she became active in the fight against AIDS and lent her name to a number of human rights causes. For all her fame and success, she had a difficult private life and suffered from debilitating ill health in her latter years, though she continued to write and record songs, releasing her last album in 1996. © Warner

Classical - Released September 29, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

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Classical - Released September 29, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

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Classical - Released May 5, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

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Giacomo Meyerbeer, the French composer with an Italian-German name (adopted) and a Jewish background, was the toast of Paris for much of the middle 19th century, the musical collaborator of the great Eugène Scribe, and the single person in whose hands the genre of grand opera most clearly took shape. His music fell out of fashion among the late Romantics, was further depressed by Nazi bans, and has taken a while to come back into style. This fine anthology by German soprano Diana Damrau will help his cause. Plainly a labor of love, the album includes arias in German (one very early) and Italian as well as French, and among the latter from opéras comiques as well as grand opera. Some of the music sounds like Rossini, some like Wagner (whom Meyerbeer backed early in his career and was repaid by an anti-Semitic campaign), but most of it has a distinctive voice marked above all by splendid vocal writing. The music often hangs in the soprano's top register, and Damrau evokes how Meyerbeer's audiences must have felt on the knife's edge. There are examples of Meyerbeer's masterful orchestration, such as the flute duo from L'étoile du Nord, and the support from the Orchestra and Chorus of the National Opera of Lyon is top-notch, as is Erato's engineering. One gets the impression here that no expense was spared, rare enough in opera these days, and that the money was well spent. To hear it all tied together, sample "O beau pays de la Touraine", with Damrau excelling in both the haunting middle section and the fireworks of the finale. Brava!

Classical - Released May 5, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

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Classical - Released May 5, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz

Classical - Released May 5, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

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Classical - Released April 28, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica

Classical - Released April 28, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

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Classical - Released April 21, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles Classica

Classical - Released April 21, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

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Classical - Released April 7, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte - 4 étoiles Classica

Classical - Released April 7, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

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Classical - Released April 7, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles Classica
This Warner Classics release is billed as music by Beethoven, but most of it fits only partly under that rubric. Les Vents Français experienced well-deserved success for their French-heavy programs on recordings and in concert, and it is understandable that they would like to branch out with Beethoven. But in so doing, they get into pretty obscure territory. The Trio in C major, Op. 87, despite its high opus number, is an early work, like all the other genuine pieces on the album, composed in 1795. Originally for two oboes and English horn, it is transcribed here for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon by John P. Newhill, who wrote a book on the basset-horn. The most interesting of the bunch is the Trio in G major for piano, flute, and bassoon, WoO 37, one of the not-abundant works by the teenage Beethoven in Bonn. With its sizable first movement, virtuoso piano part, and vigorous interchange among the instruments, it points toward the mature Beethoven more than the later, but essentially incidental, works on the rest of the album. The Variations on Là ci darem la mano, WoO 28, are also a transcription (by Fritz Stein), while the Duo in B flat for clarinet and bassoon, WoO 27, No. 3, is thought to be spurious and is full of infelicitous voice-leading, unlikely from the student of Albrechtsberger and Haydn. The Horn Sonata in F major, Op. 17, is genuine Beethoven, tossed off in a day, but intelligently written for the French horn. What keeps the miscellany afloat is the playing of Les Vents Français, which once again is surpassingly elegant, a model of Classical-style wind playing. They get a strong assist from Bavarian Radio engineers, working in the Bavarian Musikstudios in Munich. Recommended for Beethoven enthusiasts.

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Erato - Warner Classics in the magazine