Albums

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Classical - To be released October 20, 2017 | PentaTone

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Opera - To be released October 20, 2017 | PentaTone

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Chamber Music - Released September 29, 2017 | PentaTone

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It is not clear just what the "troika" of the title refers to, but one can imagine two possibilities: the album is taking up the title of the "Troika" section from the Suite from Lieutenant Kijé by Prokofiev, the troika in question being a Russian sledge pulled by three horses, hence the name. But it could also refer to a triumvirate made up of the great Russian composers: Rachmaninov, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, each of whom is represented her by one sonata for cello and piano. But then: why not both? In any case, cellist Matt Haimovitz and his pianist companion Christopher O’Riley offer up a superb range of major works, supplemented with a few gems, some of which quite dark: the explosive version (by both artists) of a cello and piano transcription of Virgin Prayer: Put Putin Away, which won three members of the group Pussy Riot some time in labour camp for this punk blasphemy; as well as a version of the Beatles' Back in the USSR, and another number from the Russian rock star Viktor Tsoi. Haimovitz, known for his forays into less-classical territory, follows his own rule - which in no way detracts from the extraordinary musical quality of this album. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released September 15, 2017 | PentaTone

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Strauss’s bold and passionate tone poem Also Sprach Zarathustra is a riveting work, famous for its startlingly atmospheric opening. With a thrilling and florid orchestral score, it’s a work which Jurowski observes “…launches the whole idea of 20th century music. Written in the 19th century, this is one of those pieces which announces the new century to come.” It is paired with Mahler’s no less gripping Totenfeier which is an early version of the first movement of his Symphony No 2 “Resurrection”. “I find very interesting to compare [the two versions] …”, writes Jurowski, “In many ways, the Totenfeier is less accomplished , but far more honest and genuine.” Juxtaposing the Strauss and Mahler works in this way, Jurowski notes “Zarathustra is all about technical brilliance and accomplishment … in the Mahler the surfaces are much less polished, so there is much more aspiration to go into the depth of things.” © Pentatone
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Classical - Released September 15, 2017 | PentaTone

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Conceived for the intimate environment of the Parisian salon, these composers honed their skills to produce songs which are sophisticated, superbly crafted and laced with drama, irony and surprise. Always a delight, these songs palpably caress the listener with their beautifully contrived melodies and exquisitely refined harmonies, particularly evident in the plaintive, haunting songs of Ernest Chausson and Jules Massenet. Gallic wit and verbal dexterity is provided in the famous Danse Macabre of Camille Saint-Saëns, Emmanuel Chabrier’s Villanelle des petits canards, and the charming Sérénade and Ô ma belle rebelle by Charles Gounod. It’s a fascinating survey brought vividly to life in these compelling performances in pristine multi-channel sound. © Pentatone
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Opera - Released September 1, 2017 | PentaTone

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Composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer knew before they ever wrote a note or a line of It’s a Wonderful Life that there are challenges in adapting a treasured classic for the operatic stage. After all, Heggie and Scheer’s hit 2010 opera Moby-Dick raised the same challenges: how could they remain faithful to the source material and still create something new, which emphasized the story’s innate operatic qualities? For It’s a Wonderful Life, Heggie and Scheer responded by keeping the basic plot and characters from the beloved Frank Capra film version but changing the perspective. As in the film, an angel—changed in the opera from Clarence to Clara—is assigned to help a man named George Bailey, who is despondent and contemplating taking his own life on Christmas Eve; if Clara succeeds, she will earn her wings. But in a departure from the film, all the action takes place from Clara’s perspective and in her realm. Seventy mirrored doors represent portals in time and space, which Clara uses to piece together the events of George’s life in an effort to understand what has brought him to this moment of despair. How well did Heggie and Scheer succeed? Critics said the “feel good” work (Opera Warhorses) “dispels any notion that you may have about expecting the opera to duplicate the film [and has a] crazy-quilt score that may be Heggie’s most delightful concoction” (Theater Jones). As the Houston Chronicle critic summed up, “George Bailey would be proud.” “What a great joy, privilege, and immense challenge it was to take the beloved story of It’s a Wonderful Life and compose the music for the people of Bedford Falls. The emotional journey of George Bailey and Clara allowed me to call on musical styles of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, contrasted with music from the heavens. The project of a lifetime.” —Jake Heggie “From the moment I began work on the libretto, I believed that George Bailey’s journey from despair to redemption was something that music could thrillingly illuminate. I also believed, with all my heart, that this story’s message of the value of every life was essential for our own time. Working on this project has been a profound privilege.” —Gene Scheer © Pentatone
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Opera - Released September 1, 2017 | PentaTone

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Andrea Marcon and La Cetra Barockorchester & Vokalensemble Basel sparkle in this new release of Handel’s forgotten masterpiece Parnasso in festa, recorded shortly before their hugely successful Netherlands premiere of the opera in November 2016. Handel wrote this sumptuous work in 1734 to celebrate the marriage in London of Princess Anne and Prince William of Orange. Cast in the form of a serenata, Parnasso in festa recounts the joyful wedding feast of Thetis and Peleus at which the Muses are present. It’s packed with breathtaking arias, duets and choruses, all written with the verve, drama and sense of occasion to be expected from Handel. The soloists that he had on hand for the premiere were among the greatest Italian singers of the day – Giovanni Carestini, Margherita Durastanti, Anna Maria Strada del Po and Maria Caterina Negri. The care he lavished on the richly instrumented score is striking, from the masterly reworking of material from his oratorio Athalia to the ravishing original material, making this work unique among Handel’s output. Parnasso in festa proved to be very popular in its day it and was revived several times, yet after 1741 was largely forgotten. Now after years of neglect, this superbly crafted work has been recognised for the glorious entertainment that it is. © Pentatone
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Classical - Released August 4, 2017 | PentaTone

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Classical - Released August 4, 2017 | PentaTone

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Sensuous, lushly evocative and intricately constructed, Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé is widely regarded as his greatest orchestral masterpiece and one of the 20th century’s finest ballet scores. This vast musical fresco with its shimmering harmonies, magical diaphanous textures and spectacular conclusion is compellingly realised by Gustavo Gimeno and the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg in this eagerly awaited release. The album also contains the haunting and exquisite Pavane pour une infante défunte and the vividly scored Une barque sur l'océan. Stravinsky regarded Daphnis et Chloé as “not only Ravel’s best work, but also one of the most beautiful products of French music” and it’s easy to see why. Written with consummate finesse for Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes, this “choreographic symphony” is an intoxicating blend of warm, seductive harmonies and passionate intensity, realised on a large orchestral canvas. Three movements have become perennially popular: the luxuriant Lever du jour, the enchanting Pantomine and the raucous Danse générale (Bacchanale) which Ravel incorporated in the later Daphnis and Chloé Suite No. 2. Elsewhere, Ravel displays the same deftness of touch with the much-loved Pavane pour une infante défunte and Une barque sur l'océan, both masterly orchestrations of his charming piano miniatures. “Gimeno cultivates … a bright, transparent orchestral sound free of dull pathos and also rediscovers colours in this score,” wrote the Trierischer Volksfreund in 2014. “[...] Wonderful! This conductor is a discovery!”. This is Gustavo Gimeno’s third recording with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg (OPL) for PENTATONE following two releases in May 2017 of orchestral works by Bruckner and Shostakovich. A further six projects are planned in the coming years. © Pentatone
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Chamber Music - Released August 4, 2017 | PentaTone

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Classical - Released July 21, 2017 | PentaTone

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One might wonder what an album that only devoted a third of its length to singing has to do with the Fine Singing Magazine. It’s only that the singing offered—as it happens Bach’s Ich habe genug cantata—is so wonderful that the writer of those little words figured it was worth being included. The wonderful singer that we are talking about is the German baritone Stephan Genz, whose velvet voice, perfect elocution, and above all complete lack of any ego in a vocal emission extraordinarily tender, sends many previous recordings (including some “references”, like for instance Fischer-Dieskau whose style, according to your humble servant, is way too saccharine, pompous and affected, especially when singing Bach) back to the fold. Surprisingly, Genz is accompanied here by the Russian National Orchestra, which usually doesn’t stand out in this repertoire; and even rarer, this very orchestra is conducted by the metropolitan Hilarion (and not “Hilarion Alfeyev”: Hilarion is his monastic name, Alfeyev his civil name), a surprising polymath equally as comfortable with theology, ancient languages, philosophy and music, because he composes himself and doesn’t hesitate to conduct—with an extraordinary modesty in his musical elocution, we’re a thousand miles away from Bach conducted by Karajan, but also by some previous baroque fundamentalists…—the greatest works from the holy repertoire. So we would like to welcome Genz and the metropolitan Hilarion to the Fine Singing and Metropolitan Conducting Magazine!
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Classical - Released July 7, 2017 | PentaTone

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Classical - Released June 16, 2017 | PentaTone

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One should really close the eyes upon the fact that composer Gordon Getty is one of the heirs to the billions and the power of the Getty empire, and concentrate on the excellent musician Gordon Getty. Born 1933, his repertoire boasts four major stage works, a large number of choral pieces, piano music and four major symphonic works. Getty has always steered clear from the avant-garde of the 70s – mostly confined to Europe, as a matter of fact –, to remain true to a tonal musical language that does not deny the influences of Shostakovich, Hindemith and more particularly Britten. Here is the world premiere recording of his latest opera, The Ghost of Canterville with a libretto directly inspired by Oscar Wilde’s eponymous novel, premiered 2015 at the Leipzig Opera. It is a one-acter, which in Leipzig was presented together with Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci. Britten seems to be the nearest influence, even though Menotti’s pen may be imagined through some harmonic and dramatic twists an turns. The work has been scheduled by San Francisco and Los Angeles operas, and more performances world-wide are to be expected. Humour and fantasy blend in the score and libretto: the subject deals with an American family that has recently moved to an ancient English castle haunted by a long-dead lord who has murdered his wife. Unlike former tenants, the Americans seem to have little fear of the ghost, and eventually the young daughter manages to kindly coax the ghost into retiring into blissful rest after so many centuries of meandering. Absolutely delicious! © SM/Qobuz
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released June 2, 2017 | PentaTone

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Secular Vocal Music - Released May 31, 2017 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
The Carnival of Venice in 1729 was quite unlike any other. Over a period of two months, opera houses went into a frenzy of competition to show off the most famous singers of the day, including the legendary castrato Farinelli who made his astonishing Venetian debut. Several of the most fashionable composers rose to the occasion, writing ravishing music for spectacular productions which often pitted the singers against each other in breathtaking displays of virtuosity. The results were sensational; one tour de force followed another in an atmosphere of fevered excitement and the adoring public lapped it up. The carnival opened with a star-studded cast in Leonardo Leo’s tragedy Cantone in Utica from which the dazzling aria Soffre talor del vento and the more gentle Ombra adorata are taken. Farinelli triumphed in Nicolo Porpora’s opera Semiramide, the perfect vehicle for his extraordinary technique. By contrast Adelaide by Giuseppe Maria Orlandini, another premiere, contains show-stopping displays for Farinelli’s arch rival Faustina Bordoni. And Germiano Giacomelli’s elegant opera Gianguir contains the achingly beautiful aria Mi par sentir la bella. Most of these rediscovered works are recorded here for the first time. (c) Pentatone

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