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Mission (version bonus)

Cecilia Bartoli

Klassiek - Verschenen op 1 januari 2012 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Diapason d'or / Arte - Choc de Classica - Hi-Res Audio
Don't hate this album because it has been beautifully marketed, for if you do you'll miss out on something extraordinary. Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli reportedly worked on it for three years, even suggesting a mystery-novel tie-in, and her label, Decca, kept the contents under wraps until the album's release, dropping hints via Internet videos. When the album appeared, it was issued in a limited-edition hardbound package including numerous essays covering aspects of the life of the composer involved, Agostino Steffani. These range from the cogent and helpful (one details Steffani's influence on Handel) to the probably woolly, shading off into the fictional treatment that's also associated with the project. The album's title reflects the fact that Steffani was a composer-diplomat, born in Italy but active for much of his life in Germany, and surrounded by various kinds of intrigue that seem to figure tangentially into some of the arias on the album. This is all intriguing, and if it spawns a feature film somewhere along the way that's all to the good, but the best news is that none of it is necessary; you can buy the album online or in its plain jewel-box version, familiarize yourself briefly with what it's about, and then be blown away. Perhaps part of Bartoli's "mission" was to elevate the music of the little-known Steffani; if so, she succeeds brilliantly, and one hopes that the release will be followed by full productions of some of Steffani's operas. Stylistically he's all over the map, with some barn-burning virtuoso arias mixed in with splendid trumpet-dominated pieces (Bartoli's interaction here with conductor Diego Fasolis and his orchestra I Barocchisti is a thing of wonder), and shorter tunes that sound a bit like Purcell. Bartoli is on top of every note, and she combines absolute technical mastery with emotional involvement to the hilt in the music's mostly flamboyantly romantic texts. This is a bravura performance that lives up to its considerable hype, and it marks a new milestone for the historical-performance movement, which finally gets a vocalist who can match the efforts of its more imaginative conductors. © TiVo
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Missa a cappella

Latvijas Radio koris

Koormuziek - Verschenen op 3 juni 2013 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Diapason d'or - Diapason d'or / Arte
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Franz Schubert : Wanderers Nachtlied (Lieder, vol. 8)

Matthias Goerne

Liederen (Duitsland) - Verschenen op 10 februari 2014 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Diapason d'or / Arte - Choc de Classica - Uitzonderlijke Geluidsopnamen - Hi-Res Audio
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"Du bist die Welt für mich" (1930s Berlin)

Jonas Kaufmann

Klassiek - Verschenen op 12 september 2014 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Diapason d'or / Arte - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année
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Paul Hindemith : Sonatas for…

Alexander Melnikov

Kamermuziek - Verschenen op 12 januari 2015 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte - 4 étoiles Classica
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Verdi : Aida

Coro dell'Accademia Nazionale Di Santa Cecilia

Opera - Verschenen op 2 oktober 2015 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Diapason d'or de l'année - 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Award - Diapason d'or / Arte - Choc de Classica
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Mozart : Piano Concertos, K.413, 414, 415

Kristian Bezuidenhout

Concerten voor klavier - Verschenen op 26 augustus 2016 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Diapason d'or de l'année - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte - Le Choix de France Musique - 4 étoiles Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Anna Netrebko

Klassiek - Verschenen op 2 september 2016 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or / Arte - 4 étoiles Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Soprano Anna Netrebko is a major box-office draw on both sides of the Atlantic, but her catalog has been short on the aria-selections albums that remain the way most buyers listen to recorded opera. This collection of verismo ("realism") Italian arias goes a long way toward filling the hole. It's actually a bit out in front of her repertoire, which has focused on Verdi, and before that Mozart, but as her voice has darkened she has announced plans to add some of the roles represented here to her repertoire. From what's heard on the album, the prospects seem very good for a career phase that will elevate Netrebko's star even higher than it already is. You can sample the aria "In questa reggia" from Turandot to assure yourself of Netrebko's confidence in hitting the high notes, and hear one of several fine duet passages with the singer's tenor husband, Yusif Eyvazov. But also take time to explore the big hits, like "Un bel dì vedremo," from Madama Butterfly, where Netrebko seems to approach the music as if for the first time, and also some of the arias by some of the one-hit wonders of the verismo genre. With capable accompaniment from the Coro e orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia under Antonio Pappano, this is a major Netrebko release and a definitive verismo collection. © TiVo
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Dvorák: Symphonies,Tone Poems, Requiem...

István Kertész

Symfonieën - Verschenen op 1 november 2016 | Decca

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Diapason d'or / Arte - Choc de Classica
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Overtures, Preludes & Intermezzi

Filarmonica della Scala

Klassiek - Verschenen op 27 januari 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Diapason d'or / Arte - 4 étoiles Classica
This Decca release -- with star conductor, new position, short operatic excerpts -- might seem an album safely headed for best-seller territory without remapping that territory in any way. Actually it's better than that: conductor Riccardo Chailly, with the Filarmonica della Scala (the house orchestra of the great Italian opera theater), contributes an interesting look at a genre not known for instrumental music, and he walks some rarely trodden paths. There are a few well-known pieces, like the "Dance of the Hours" from Ponchielli's La Gioconda (better known to pop fans as Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah or the hippo ballet in Disney's Fantasia). But Chailly also extracts some gems from operas that, taken as a whole, may be tough going. Sample the second-act prelude to Umberto Giordano's Siberia. This work has been recorded fewer than half a dozen times during the long-play era, but this little orchestral piece is an entirely convincing depiction of what it was like for an Italian opera composer to encounter the new winds from the east: the Russian tropes are there, but done in an entirely Italian way. The program is well structured; Chailly offers some peppy overtures and divides them up with mood pieces of various kinds. The program ends with three rarely heard preludes, two from the almost unknown I Medici of Leoncavallo and one from the "Prelude to the Prologue" to Boito's Mefistofele, and all are well worth having in one's library. Recommended for anyone looking for an opera instrumentals album that offers more than the usual stuff. © TiVo
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Brahms: String Sextets (Live from Aix Easter Festival 2016)

Renaud Capuçon

Klassiek - Verschenen op 3 maart 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte - 4 étoiles Classica
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Dvorák : Stabat Mater, Op.58, B.71

Jiří Bělohlávek

Religieuze vocale muziek - Verschenen op 5 mei 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - Diapason d'or / Arte - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Antonín Dvorák's Stabat Mater, Op. 58, truly merits the adjective "tragic"; it was written after the deaths of two of the composer's children in succession, and his grief rolled out in great, Verdian waves. There are several strong recordings on the market, including an earlier one by conductor Jiří Bělohlávek himself, but for the combination of deep feeling, technical mastery from musicians and singers who have spent their lives getting to know the score, and soloists who not only sound beautiful but are seamlessly integrated into the flow, this Decca release may be the king of them all. To what extent was the strength of the performance motivated by Bělohlávek's likely fatal illness (he died days after the album entered the top levels of classical charts in the spring of 2017)? It's hard to say, although he also delivered top-notch performances of Dvorák's Requiem in his last days. The members of the Prague Philharmonic Choir sing their hearts out in the gigantic, shattering opening chorus, which has rarely if ever had such a mixture of the impassioned and the perfectly controlled. Sample the chorus "Virgo virginium praeclara" to hear the magically suspended quality Bělohlávek brings out of the singers in lightly accompanied passages. The soloists, soprano Eri Nakamura, mezzo Elisabeth Kulman, tenor Michael Spyres, and bass Jongmin Park -- an international group in this otherwise almost all-Czech production -- are uniformly strong, but what stands out most is how inevitable their entrances sound. If this turns out to be Bělohlávek's swan song, it is an accomplishment for the ages. Highest possible recommendation. © TiVo
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Russian Light

Olga Peretyatko

Wereldlijke vocale muziek - Verschenen op 9 juni 2017 | Sony Music Classical Local

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Diapason d'or - Diapason d'or / Arte
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Brahms : The Piano Trios

Yo-Yo Ma

Trio´s - Verschenen op 15 september 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Diapason d'or / Arte
You may rightly be suspicious of all-star chamber groups: for each one that clicks, four seem put together for purely commercial purposes. But the piano trio on this Sony release, beautifully recorded at what is arguably the premiere American venue acoustically, Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts, does not even really fall under that classification, even though all three members are certainly stars. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax are collaborators of long standing, and the interplay between the two here is consistently profound, with Ma's warmth setting off Ax's agile skittering. Too, the trios are made for Yo-Yo Ma, with the contrapuntal intricacy of the music giving the cello lots to do, and in particular giving him a chance to display his wondrous melodic gift. Sample the cello material of the Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, Op. 8. The early work is played here in its 1890 revision, which Brahms altered in many essential ways while leaving the opening intact, and you may wish to own this double album for this moment alone. The opening movement of the Piano Trio No. 2 in C major, Op. 87, is a masterpiece of crisp, confident playing all around, and really the music here ranges from consistent to exceptional, and never leaves any of the performers in his own world. Highly recommended. © TiVo
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Tchaikovsky : Symphony No.6

Teodor Currentzis

Symfonieën - Verschenen op 27 oktober 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Gramophone Record of the Month - Diapason d'or / Arte - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
An album, a symphony: you would think that we had returned to the days of the Long Play, and the era of Mravinsky, Doráti, Markevitch, Karajan as well as many other performers and interpreters who have marked the discographic history of the last symphony from Piotr Ilitch Tchaikovsky. The album cover also seems to confirm it: it brings to mind the old RCA covers from the 50s and 60s. Sony Classical, being very supportive of the artistic endeavours of the Greco-Russian master, didn't hesitate to bring out a roughly 45-minute album - they had done better with the Rites of Spring (2015), which was feted in the press. Here, Teodor Currentzis continues his exploration of Tchaikovsky's world, with the Pathétique, putting the accent on the dynamic contrasts, sometimes naturally, sometimes by technical means (adagio lamentoso), and bringing to bear some methods that are normally specific to pop music. He exploits the sombre tone of the work, even above its rhythmic energy, and looks to create atmospheres that one could often call morbid. For record-lovers, this release is a great opportunity to revisit his discography, and for all other ardent Qobuz users it is an opportunity to rediscover this true emblem of the orchestral repertoire. © TG/Qobuz
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J.S. Bach : Consolatio

Philippe Pierlot

Religieuze cantates - Verschenen op 16 februari 2018 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte
The cantata Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe (Jesus gathered the twelve to Himself) BWV 22, holds a historic place in Bach’s work. Indeed he composed it while still in Köthen, as an audition piece for the position of Thomaskantor in Leipzig, and then conducted it on February 7th, 1723, maybe even singing the bass part himself. Famously the city council, unable to convince its preferred composers – Telemann, Graupner and two others –, decided to settle with “mediocre” Bach… The gospel of the day first announces his death and his resurrection by Christ and his disciplines. A modest orchestra: voices, strings, one oboe and continuo, but the musical content is – like in almost all of Bach’s cantatas – amongst the best he’s ever written. For the same celebration, Bach composed a new cantata the following year, Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott (Lord Jesus Christ, true Man and God) BWV 127. But it has almost nothing in common with the previous piece: here Bach offers a very impressive reflection on physical death. Throughout his cantatas he called for a blessed death to free himself from the vicissitudes of life on Earth, but this now reveals how much he may have feared physical death itself. The aria ”Die Seele ruht” is one of these sublime moments suspended in time, an ineffable tintinnabulum, in which the soprano and the oboe dialogue on a harrowing theme while the flutes and string pizzicatos symbolise the passing of time with incredible beauty. Finally it’s with Die Elenden sollen essen (The miserable shall eat) BWV 75 that Bach started off his work in Leipzig, in St. Nicholas Church this time, as the cantatas were alternately performed in both churches. Probably because he wanted to start with a bang, he designed this cantata on a huge scale: fourteen numbers, divided in two parts. Of course Bach would have never been able to produce such vast and powerful partitions on a weekly basis, but there is a real substance to this Passion… and it’s with great passion that Philippe Pierlot, his Ricercar Consort and the soloists perform these masterpieces. © SM/Qobuz
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Nicola Porpora : Opera Arias

Max Emanuel Cencic

Operafragmenten - Verschenen op 2 maart 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Diapason d'or - Diapason d'or / Arte - Qobuzism - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Nowadays it might seem rather strange to describe a composer as a “singing master”, but, during the eighteenth century, this was not the case at all. In Italy, almost every composer worthy of the name wrote opere serie (Porpora wrote at least forty- ve): serious opera was the dominant musical genre, glorifying the human voice above everything else. It was the maker or breaker of musical reputations, with its nest singers the rst superstars of music. Therefore composers, though generally eclipsed by the fame of their leading men and women, needed to understand the human voice and all its remarkable capabilities, both technical and histrionic, in order to be able to exploit the possibilities of the operatic form at a time when those “machines made for singing”, the castrati, had brought the vocal art to a pitch of perfection never known before, nor equalled since. Though this recording is bringing Porpora’s name to public attention again on the 250th anniversary of his death, his fame as a singing teacher has probably obscured, until recently, his remarkable qualities as a composer, quite simply because two of the most famous castrati were among his many pupils, namely Gaetano Majorano, known as Caffarelli, whom Porpora once called “the nest singer in Europe”, also famed for his amorous antics and arrogance on- and off-stage, and the even more celebrated Carlo Broschi, who, under his stage name of Farinelli, amazed audiences and set hearts a- utter for fteen years throughout Europe, before being called to Spain to heal a crazed King by the power of his voice. Max Cencic remarks: “Porpora was a severe teacher, I think, maybe almost sadistic in his demands — you need 120% control of breath, brain and voice”. Legend indeed has it that he taught Caffarelli one page of exercises, and those alone, for six years. The formal alternation of aria and recitative in opera seria conceals a great range of emotional expression, that varietas that Erasmus famously described as “so powerful in every sphere that there is absolutely nothing, however brilliant, which is not dimmed if not commended by variety”. In such forms as the orid aria di bravura or the lyrical aria di sostenuto, the composer’s fantasy only provided a framework for the singer to embroider: the performer’s skill in ornamentation and other emotional devices was of paramount importance. Porpora’s many years of both teaching and composing experience made him, in Max Cencic’s opinion, “one of the top ten composers of Italian Baroque opera. I chose the arias for this recording almost by instinct, by what ‘felt right’. There is no way one can encompass a composer of such quality in one album, and each piece is a treasure in its own right. Though technical display is everywhere — leaps, rapid scales, trills, long phrases — Porpora’s special and utterly captivating melodic gift always shines through.” The arias are all taken from works composed at the height of Porpora’s fame, from Ezio (Venice 1728; “Se tu la reggi al volo” is a semiquaver spectacular) to Filandro (Dresden 1747, with a ravishing siciliano in “Ove l’erbetta tenera, e molle”), including three of the operas he composed for London during the 1730s, in direct competition with Handel (Arianna in Nasso 1733, Enea nel Lazio 1734 — real reworks here in “Chi vuol salva” — and I genia in Aulide 1735). The Teatro San Carlo in Naples, perhaps the most famous of all opera houses at that time, saw the premiere of Il trionfo di Camilla in 1740, and the two arias recorded here show Porpora at his best: the music of “Va per le vene il sangue” evocatively matches its darkly suggestive text, while “Torcere il corso all’onde” combines rapid- re coloratura with elegance of line. In the three arias from Carlo il Calvo (Teatro delle Dame, Rome 1738) the singer is similarly called to match Porpora’s varietas with his own: from the scurrying oriture of “So che tiranno io sono” to the high-lying phrases of “Se rea ti vuole il cielo”, and the beguilingly hypnotic sostenuto of “Quando s’oscura il cielo”. Porpora’s orchestral writing is also remarkably varied, all the more so in that he generally uses only strings, nowhere better than in the elaborate lines of “Torbido intorno al core” from Meride e Selinunte (Venice 1726), where voice and violins entwine in an elaborate and emotionally suggestive web of divisions. However, sometimes he pulls out all the sonority stops, as in the martial “Destrier, che all’armi usato” where, at the rst performance in the Teatro Regio, Turin in 1731 trumpets and horns vied with the unmatchable power of the voice of Farinelli. As Max Cencic has said: “How can we emulate the great castrati? That is hard to pin down, but these voices were the very soul of Porpora’s music.” -Nicholas Clapton © 2018 – Decca Group Limited
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Bizet : Les Pêcheurs de perles

Alexandre Bloch

Volledige opera's - Verschenen op 2 mei 2018 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Record of the Month - Diapason d'or / Arte - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica
The story of the Pêcheurs de perles [Pearl Fishers] by Bizet is nothing short of torturous: after its first outing in 1863, the score – whose manuscript is now in private hands and no longer available, alas – fell into obscurity, and was only returned to its rightful place in the sun after the composer's death, once Carmen had made his name. Alas – a thousand times, alas – many different theatre directors took themselves for great geniuses and made little amendments to the work, cutting here, adding there, changing bits up to and including the end. Until the 1960s, this calamitously cack-handed version was the one that was performed – this libretto looks a little flat, why not add a few mistakes? – until musicologists stumbled across the original documents, in particular the cut-down version by Bizet himself, as well as the "conductor's score" of the time, which contained many notes about orchestration. This version, put together in 2014 by Hugh MacDonald, is sung by the flower of great French lyrical music – Julie Fuchs, Florian Sempey, Cyrille Dubois and Luc Bertin-Hugault – and returns as closely as possible to the original version of the work, so that the listener will encounter a number of big surprises, and good surprises too: additional numbers, several melodic and dramatic developments: almost a whole new score. © SM/Qobuz
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Bernstein : Symphony No. 2 "The Age of Anxiety"

Krystian Zimerman

Symfonieën - Verschenen op 24 augustus 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 4F de Télérama - Diapason d'or / Arte - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik - 5 étoiles de Classica
The Second Symphony by Leonard Bernstein, The Age of Anxiety, based on a poem of the same name by W. H. Auden, is a work of the composer-conductor's relative youth, dating from 1948-1949, when he was just turning thirty. The symphony is presented as a series of variations, but not variations around an initial theme. No: each variation takes on elements of the previous variation, varies in turn, and so on. It brings to mind an unbroken metamorphosis. As one might imagine, Bernstein mixes classical symphonic elements with jazz, in particular in the solo piano passage – tackled here by Krystian Zimerman, who had the good fortune to perform with Bernstein several times. In its own way, it is a kind of homage to the centenary of the composer's birth: as Zimerman mentions in the liner notes, Bernstein asked him if he wanted to play this symphony with him for his hundredth birthday. And he almost keeps the promise, although the orchestra is the Berlin Philharmonic, under Sir Simon Rattle. © SM/Qobuz
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Antonio Vivaldi

Cecilia Bartoli

Operafragmenten - Verschenen op 23 november 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Diapason d'or / Arte - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - 5 étoiles de Classica
This new Vivaldi album marks a double anniversary, the thirty-year anniversary of the close collaboration between Cecilia Bartoli and the famous English label Decca, and the twenty-year anniversary of the very successful first Vivaldian opus. This time leaving behind Giovanni Antonini and his Il Giardino Armonico ensemble, Cecilia Bartoli has selected French musicians well versed in Vivaldi’s music, as if to demonstrate the universal nature of the Red Priest’s compositions. In fact, Jean-Christophe Spinosi and his Ensemble Matheus have distinguished themselves with Vivaldi’s instrumental music since their early days. They started off their collaboration with five concerts, dedicated of course to the Venetian composer, in Munich, Prague, Baden-Baden and Versailles. For their first recording together they selected ten opera titles, nine of which weren’t featured on the 1999 album. The plethora of Vivaldi operas provides an endless supply to recitalists who can easily put together, as is the case here, an extremely lively programme featuring the most beautiful gems of an extraordinarily expansive composer whose melodic liveliness has been a constantly fascinating topic. This release is also beautiful in itslef (accessible on your Qobuz account), as it features a photo book containing beautiful portraits of Cecila Bartoli taken by Roman photographer Viviane Purdom, who has devoted her life to masterfully shooting great classical musicians. Happy anniversary indeed! © François Hudry/Qobuz