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The Swiss-Chinese pianist Melodie Zhao teams up with the Camerata Schweiz and Howard Griffiths on this complete recording of Joseph Haydn’s concertos for keyboard instruments – for harpsichord, for pianoforte, and surprisingly also for organ. Although Haydn’s organ concertos were originally intended for the sacred setting of the Catholic liturgy, during his lifetime and with his approval they circulated exclusively and more widely for “secular instruments,” which means that they are excellently suited for the modern piano. The recording is based on the instrumental assignments and score text in the musicological complete edition of Haydn’s works, and the compositions originally intended for the organ are heard here for the first time following the new edition of 2020. © CPO
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Michel-Richard Delalande is regarded as one of the great composers of the French Baroque, and so it is not surprising that our prizewinning Boston Early Music Ensemble has now turned to him. Along with his many sacred works, Delalande also wrote for the various court occasions that required secular music. Les Fontaines de Versailles, the work occupying a central position on this release, above all contributed to Delalande’s increasing popularity. It was performed on 5 April 1683, some weeks before Delalande was appointed to the coveted post of “Sous-maître de Chapelle.” After the court had settled in Versailles with King Louis XIV in 1682, its musical microcosm also experienced a renewal. Les Fontaines de Versailles numbered among Delalande’s efforts to produce an oeuvre perfectly tailored for Versailles, both in its form as well as in its poetic content, thereby demonstrating his skill as a composer of »French music« and displaying it in a proper light for the king. It is with refined sophistication that Les Fontaines de Versailles evokes the special relationship between the king and his gardens. Delalande beyond doubt occupied the first place among Louis XIV’s favorites: in 1689 the king named the thirty-one-year-old his “Surintendant de la Musique de la Chambre,” a post that before only Jean-Baptiste Lully and then one of his sons had held. © CPO
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Francois-Joseph Gossec was doubtless one of the most prominent French composers of the eighteenth century and wrote works representing almost all the musical forms and genres. The previous recording of his symphonic music has just been awarded an Opus Klassik 2020, and now CPO would like to share some of his magnificent vocal works with the audience – since his oratorios and truly amazing Messe des Morts also made him a trailblazing figure. La Nativité to a text by Gossec’s contemporary Michel Paul Guy de Chabanon is his most famous oratorio. It was premiered on Christmas Eve in 1774 and went on to be performed no fewer than nine times in the Concert Spirituel. The impact was immediate, and critics vied with each other to formulate poetic descriptions of the orchestral effects and the impressive parts sung by the Shepherdess, the Shepherd, and the Choirs of the Angels and the Shepherds. This is moving music! © CPO
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Andreas Romberg is now more than an insider’s tip; he is a recognized composer situated on the interface between Classicism and Romanticism. Romberg was regarded as a celebrated violin virtuoso, concertmaster, and composer, and his stays in Paris, Vienna, Prague, and Italy spread his fame internationally. He met Ludwig van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn, and many other musical personalities of his times. A great deal of his oeuvre covering all sorts of different genres was forgotten, but this is slowly changing, primarily owing to the “Arbeitsstelle Andreas Romberg” at the University of Vechta, a research center that since 1993 has engaged in the systematic investigation of this composer’s works. Of his ten symphonies, only six are extant, and only four of them were printed during his lifetime. However, his symphonies were extremely popular when they were written. In 1817 the "Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung" praised “what Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Romberg have accomplished so far in this genre of musical works”. With these words the author numbered Romberg among the absolute “masters” in this field. For quite some time the performance figures for Romberg’s symphonies ranked second only to those for works by the Viennese Classicists. © CPO
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The rediscovery of the French composer Theodore Dubois continues with his piano chamber music, which for us here and now is very much new musical terrain: a Piano Quartet in the classic ensemble as well as a Piano Quintet as a fascinating exception to the rule with its string trio and oboe (instead of a second violin). The flawless design and tonal beauty of these works make us sit up and take notice, and by the way they were penned during the first decade of a new century by a composer who was almost seventy years old and now was focusing on the writing of chamber music. The Quintette pour violon, hautbois, alto et violoncelle was published in 1905, prior to the Piano Quartet, and its exquisite ensemble generates a special magnetism. Here the master aims at a noble, sensuous sumptuousness in the melody instruments in which the special color of the oboe now has its share. At the same time, the rich sound captivates the listener as chamber music building on a piano foundation and exclusively employing the character of this keyboard instrument as a sort of dramatic signal in the dialogue of the song lines during all the movements. © CPO
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The focus of the further cooperative effort with the Cappella Aquileia and Marcus Bosch – for the Beethoven Year and with “Beethoven and the Theater” as its theme – is formed by a complete recording of this composer’s stage music for König Stephan. Archduke Franz Josef Karl of Austria had a new theater built for the city of Pest as a reward for the loyalty of the Hungarians to the Austrian monarchy. As was fitting for the occasion, Beethoven was given the commission for music commemorating the establishment of the Kingdom of Hungary by King Stephen I, and the music was premiered in the new edifice in 1812. The text for König Stephan was penned by August von Kotzebue and surely would have been forgotten long ago if not for Beethoven’s music. The pathos and hero worship in its verses are not so easily grasped today, but this should not stand in the way of the work’s performance. Understood as a historical memorial, König Stephan, in particular in the meticulous modernization of the text produced by Kai Weßler for this recording, is a rewarding work. Three versions each of the Leonore Overture and the Fidelio Overture round off the album. © CPO
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For the biographer Karl Holl chamber music was “Friedrich Gernsheim’s very special artistic domain”. The composer again and again returned to this field during the course of his life, from his beginnings in Leipzig and Paris to his later Berlin years. The Violin Sonatas in particular stand out in this group within his oeuvre because they, more than any other genre, document his compositional development. Things began with the fourteen-year-old’s Sonata in E minor, composed for exercise purposes in Leipzig and heard here for the first time on album, and continued by way of his Op. 4, his first full-fledged contribution to this genre, to the mature Op. 50, Op. 64 and Op. 85, with thirteen to fourteen years separating the composition of each of these works. The Fourth Sonata, a work dedicated to Henri Marteau, may be regarded as the high point of Gernsheim’s duo oeuvre: here his contrapuntal line of thought, something that he had always cultivated, extends over the entire composition. © CPO
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Klassiek - Verschenen op 8 januari 2021 | CPO

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The work group formed by Telemann’s overture suites is regarded as exemplary and even today offers a wealth of discoveries – and the three works presented here in album recording premieres certainly answer this description. It is difficult to determine the chronological order of Telemann’s extant overture suites because the composer incorporated very different influences into them, not only from French music since the invention of the form by Jean-Baptiste Lully but also from the “Lullists” active in Germany such as Johann Sigismund Kusser, Philipp Heinrich Erlebach, and Johann Fischer. And for Telemann’s pronounced tendency to mix existing formal, stylistic, and generic traditions, the overture suite formed an absolutely ideal foil. Here we can find diverse characters, formal combinations, and stylistic interconnections in great supply. The great imagination and spirit at work here are also shown in the plentiful stores of surprising ideas that shine like flashes of brainstorm lightning in various passages. © CPO
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Opera - Verschenen op 8 januari 2021 | CPO

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An essential opera composer amid Monteverdi's successors, Antonio Cesti, like Francesco Cavalli, left a body of work that was gradually rediscovered, notably thanks to the Innsbruck Early Music Festival, in the very city where Cesti worked at the court of the Habsburg Archduke Ferdinand. After the success of L'Argia, and then of Orontea, the festival now exhumes the Dori, composed in 1657 and presented to mark three-hundred-fifty years since the composer's death. The libretto, a pretext for much cross-dressing, tells the story of the Persian prince Orontes mourning the (presumed) death of his beloved Dori, who is actually living at his court disguised as a man, while the Egyptian prince Tolomeo, dressed as a woman, has a crush on Dori's sister, Arsinoe, who is pledged to marry Orontes... At the head of many soloists and his Accademia Bizantina, Ottavio Dantone conducts through the many twists and turns of this very long opera (six hours reduced to three for modern ears and attention spans!) taking the various forms of accompanied recitatives, ariosos, ritournelles, vocalisations and some well-rounded ensembles. A new discovery allowing a better knowledge of the Florentine composer whose career mainly played out in the Austrian Tyrol. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Georg Philipp Telemann’s chamber oeuvre has always had a significant place in the repertoire of the Camerata Köln. The ensemble’s contributions to this field have included complete recordings of magnificent cyclical work groups such as his Essercizii musici, Trios of 1718, Six Concerts et Suites, Die kleine Kammermusik, and Der getreue Music-Meister. The present release rounds off the complete recording of Telemann’s concertos with wind instruments on a total of 16 albums on CPO. The Baroque orchestra La Stagione Frankfurt led by Michael Schneider performed the orchestral compositions, and the Camerata Köln was responsible for the chamber works – and the wind soloists of the two ensembles are identical. The second release of the Concerti da Camera once again contains chamber masterpieces by Telemann featuring a complex texture of parts in a concerto style in which each of the concertizing instruments is allowed to come forward with thematic material as well as with figurations. © CPO
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Our first release featuring music for string orchestra by British composers presents works by Hubert Parry, Edward Elgar, and Gordon Jacob. The last-mentioned composer wrote a Symphony for Strings with clear contrapuntal textures and a slow introduction beginning with broadly striding octaves and dissonant sixteenth contrasts. Parry demonstrates his sovereign command of a whole range of different techniques and textures in his First Suite for String Orchestra and succeeds in producing a full, one-of-a-kind sound: Very British, indeed! Edward Elgar’s Organ Sonata represents a special case on this album, where it is heard in the version for string orchestra by Hans Kunstovny. Some authors even earlier spoke of the sonata as a “thwarted symphony” because of its structure and design. The premiere of Kunstovny’s Elgar arrangement was held in Pforzheim in October 2006 under Sebastian Tewinkel before Douglas Bostock included it in his program in January 2020. The present recording was produced following this concert. Kunstovny, who assigned the subtitle “Swinnerton’s Dream” to his arrangement, was also present; it refers to the organist and choral conductor Charles Swinnerton Heap, the sonata’s dedicatee, who lent his support to Elgar’s works during the last decade of the nineteenth century. © CPO
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The recording of Hasse's Cleofide by William Christie for Capriccio with Capella Coloniensis in 1987, followed seven years later by a series of concerts in Paris, Vienna and Montreux with Les Arts Florissants, had marked an important milestone in the rediscovery of this German composer who had been strongly influenced by Italy.A well-liked composer of Farinelli, Hasse composed many operas and also "serenades", long cantatas whose plot is simpler and more collected, such as this Enea in Caonia, probably first performed in Naples in 1727 and filled with beauty: virtuoso orchestra and arias set off remarkably by the solid team of singers conducted with beautiful effervescence by Stefano Montanari in this recording made in Rome in 2019.The Saxon composer's youthful work, this deeply Neapolitan serenade also testifies to the rapid transformation of operatic language which led to the Gluckist reformation that would peak some forty years later. This modest serenata contains some tunes whose style would become typical of Hasse, with his mixture of melancholy and melodic grace. We highlight the sensitive and virtuosic performance by Paola Valentina Molinari in the difficult role of the oracle Eleno and Raffaella Lupinacci's intense rendering of Andromachus. Conductor Stefano Montanari favours vigour and contrast to instill a theatrical spirit into this studio version. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Since Friedrich Ernst Fesca, the father of Alexander Fesca, had received an excellent education as a violinist, it is not surprising that his masterfully elaborated string quartets contributed significantly to the establishment of his outstanding reputation as a composer. Until 1818 he published a total of twelve quartets, and two others followed in 1819 and then again in 1824-25. For a decade Fesca was one of the most-reviewed quartet composers, and it is documented that he was one of the most performed such composers for an even longer period of time. On this second volume the quality and originality of his string quartets again are revealed above all in the balance with which he combines mellow harmony, contrapuntal expertise, and formally integrated virtuosity. The eight quartets are interpreted by the Amaryllis Quartet, which at the very latest since its triumph with the finalists’ prize at the Premio Paolo Borciani in Reggio Emilia in 2011 has numbered among the leading string quartets of its generation. Pearls for friends of chamber music who delight in discovery! © CPO
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It is difficult to understand why the twelve sonatas by Johann Philipp Krieger recorded here are almost completely forgotten today. Those who listen more closely to them will discover a rich cosmos of melodic, harmonic, and stylistic ideas that could hardly be rendered more vividly in musical tones. These Baroque sonatas seemingly randomly join together the most sparkling strands of pearls – short and very short little movements, spontaneous ideas, witty episodes, and oscillating emotional states in what are rapid and above all fascinating sequences. They are to be understood as little scenes of a musical drama “en miniature”. Krieger’s sonatas structured in small units recall characters on the stage in their careful design and perfect compositional-technical elaboration. They engage in cooperative action, oppose each other, and react to each other, enter into musical dialogue or competition, fall in love with each other and rise up in mutual embrace, and laugh or cry together – just as in real life. © CPO
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As a famous music authority and critic once wrote, the life story of the Austrian composer Franz Schreker and the reception history of his oeuvre would have offered fine material for a magnificent novel with a musician as its protagonist – if not for the fact that everything had actually occurred in real life: his childhood spent in poverty; the difficult initial path to local prominence in Vienna; the breakthrough to superstar status in German-language opera houses; his appointment as director of the Berlin College of Music; his failure to resist the seductive powers of flatterers; the gradual loss of favor among audiences and critics that many seeming friends followed with malicious spite; and then the final blow, when the new »master race« turned the world upside down – all of this was fact, not fiction. Following the release of several operas by Franz Schreker during past years (some of them in premiere recordings), CPO now turns to the orchestral works of a man who in some circles continues to be dismissed as a mere »sound magician,« even though he was a melodist and harmonist of the first water and had learned his craft so thoroughly at the Vienna Conservatory that he himself became a sought-after teacher. The present program traces Schreker’s path from his studies with Robert Fuchs to his first enduring success – the captivating pantomime The Birthday of the Infanta (1908) after the fairy tale by Oscar Wilde, which definitely numbers among the finest creations of the musical art nouveau. © CPO
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How Anton Rubinstein in the end succeeded in creating a comprehensive oeuvre covering all the genres while making breathtaking concert and traveling rounds as a pianist is something that numbers among the incomprehensibilities of his life marked by a tireless work ethos. During the course of his busy life on the go he composed more than a dozen operas, six symphonies, an oratorio, a ballet, some two hundred songs, countless works for piano solo and for piano in the concerto style and with orchestral accompaniment, and chamber music for various formations with and without piano. He also composed ten string quartets, two of which are now being released on CPO. Rubinstein composed these works during his time in Leipzig, and the Reinhold Quartet, whose members are musicians of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, offer powerful interpretations of them. The two Quartets No. 1 and No. 3 in minor keys from Op. 47 are on the one hand subtly linked together motivically and on the other hand most highly different in design. Especially striking triplet motifs livening up in the secondary segments, refined motivic transformations, and fortissimo outbursts of absolutely orchestral might – these are all typical characteristics of Rubinstein’s quartet style. And what might possibly top the impressive conclusion of the first quartet? The gigantic, virtuosic, and harmonically and formally bolder conclusion of the third quartet, that’s what! © CPO
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Two rarely performed piano trios by Sylvio Lazzari and Wilhelm Kienzl form the core of this album. Lazzari’s Piano Trio Op. 13 is characterized by a passionate tone and displays the composer’s dramatic talent; like Kienzl, Lazzari would later become first and foremost an opera composer. Sylvio Lazzari was known for his skillfully crafted, sonorous music. In comparison with Lazzari’s work, the Piano Trio by Wilhelm Kienzl is even more melodic and full of verve, even if it is also more conventional – which is not surprising since it is by a twenty-three-year-old student. His Piano Trio is full of youthful freshness. At times Kienzl’s music exhibits flowing structures reminiscent of Schubert, and a hint of salon music wafts through the piece. Here, Wilhelm Jeral’s Sérénade viennoise, arranged for piano trio, is presented as a charming encore. This musical gem with “Wiener Schmäh,” as irresistible as a slice of plum cake with whipped cream on top, is congenially brought to the musical table! © CPO
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Kamermuziek - Verschenen op 1 januari 2021 | CPO

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When Giovanni Benedetto Platti was born, Johann Sebastian Bach was already twelve years old, and when he died, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was only two weeks short of his seventh birthday. So far scholars have not been able to unearth any significant information about this composer’s childhood and youth, and his dates make it easy to understand why posterity has assigned him to one of those perilous »transitional gap periods« from which many composers like him never reemerge. However, especially since the beginning of the new millennium Platti by exception has enjoyed something of a renaissance. From 1722 until his death in 1763 Platti served the Würzburg Prince Archbishop Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn and his hardly less renowned brothers. He was a highly regarded virtuoso and composer who as a productive musician not only was diligent but also and above all very imaginative and even fond of experimentation. The writing style of his harpsichord and cello sonatas, trios, and concertos is often so highly original that they practically had to be rediscovered sooner or later. The selection of works recorded here also shows that this Italian-in-Franconia was an artist who in particular expertly negotiated oscillating harmonic boundaries, never reached his limits with the means of expression available to him at the time, and formulated astonishing solutions to meet the needs of instrumental virtuosos. © CPO
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Vasilije Mokranjac is one of the most important Serbian composers from the second half of the 20th century. In his first works, Mokranjac was clearly oriented towards late Romanticism and Impressionism, which he enriched with folk elements. Over time there was a stylistic development that led to a moderately modern expression - also in his piano works. The connection of compositional and pianistic ambitions marked the first, folkloristically influenced creative period in the 1950s. The expressionist overload that characterized the music of the second creative phase turned into the opposite in the 1970s: This last period of full creative maturity saw Mokranjac ’return to the piano and culminated in some of the most complex works ever written for the instrument. The folkloric elements that were typical of the early compositions are missing in these piano pieces, as are the expressionist tensions of the second creative phase. Instead, the lyrical expression now prevails. It looked as if these mystical, extremely meditative and ever more sonorous pieces of late had intended to suggest the reconciliation of their creator with the world when he himself ended his life on May 27, 1984. © CPO
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Hardly any biographical information about the composer Martin Christian Schultze has been handed down to us. On the cover of the Trattamento dell’harmonia, which was engraved and published in Paris in 1773, we find his name with the initials “M. C.” and “D. B.” (“M. C. Schultze D. B.”), which according to the RISM signifies “Martin Christian Schultze from Berlin.” The six symphonies contained in this collection may be understood as harmonic treatises. They have been written very much in the Italian style, and in them we find very many polyrhythmic elements running through all the movements – for example, frequent triplets against sixteenths. In addition, at the time Schultze must have had an outstanding gambist by his side who was able to render this extremely demanding gamba part. The violin part with many double stops and virtuosic passages likewise presupposes some talent. By contrast, the flute part more probably would have been written for an amateur. Here these pieces are interpreted by the Klingekunst Ensemble, whose members base their work on well-founded occupation with historical performance practice but also always assign foremost importance to vibrant musical communication. © CPO