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Move - The Trumpet as Movie Star

Romain Leleu

Musiques pour le cinéma - Verschenen op 1 oktober 2021 | harmonia mundi

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Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande

François-Xavier Roth

Opéra - Verschijnt op 28 januari 2022 | harmonia mundi

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Brahms: Late Piano Works, Opp. 116-119

Paul Lewis

Classique - Verschijnt op 21 januari 2022 | harmonia mundi

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In his beautifully written sleeve notes to this late Brahms solo recital from Paul Lewis, Brahms authority Matthias Kornemann draws our attention to the uniqueness of Brahms’s late oeuvre being one that Brahms himself consciously sectioned off from the rest of his output. That having made the unusual decision to cease composing aged 59, driven by the conviction that he had said all he had to say, Brahms was then lured back to his manuscript paper after hearing the playing of clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld and being suddenly possessed of a desire to penetrate, as Arnold Schoenberg put it, to the “uttermost limit of the still-expressible”. And without doubt there is a palpable autumnal quality to the ensuing late period’s works, both for clarinet and for solo piano, because while Brahms on the one hand cleaved resolutely to his faith in absolute music with no programmatic subtext, he simultaneously produced works that feel suffused with autumnal expression; of melancholic thoughts of reminiscence, farewell and death. Consequently, the late piano works – the 7 Fantasien Op. 116, the 3 Intermezzi, Op. 117, the 6 Klavierstücke Op. 118 and the 4 Klavierstücke Op. 119 – always tend to weave an especial spell when grouped together in their own recital. However that feeling does feel especially palpable across these readings from Paul Lewis, recorded in January 2018 and January 2019 at the Teldex Studio Berlin. A lot has to do with the gentle, soft-focus quality to his tone, which reaps especial dividends in pieces such as the first Op. 117 Intermezzo in E-flat with its simple cantabile intimacy, or the dreamy trills of the Op. 118 Romance in F major – and yet equally without negating the impact of high-drama declamations such as the opening of the Op. 118 Ballade in G minor. Lewis’s poetic capabilities, and his range of colour and dynamic, are giving you fresh things to appreciate with every new emotional twist and turn. Take the Op. 118 Intermezzo in E-flat minor, for instance, as he moves from despairing, whispered lines that appear lost and floating in darkness, to his defiant central climax. Or the way in which he harnesses metrical push and pull, and rubato, into helping every piece unfurl as an outpouring of constantly developing rhetoric. Sticking with Op. 118, listen to his heart-breaking hesitation just before exiting the flowing pathos of the Intermezzo in A major’s central F minor section. In short, a spellbinding set of readings. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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J. S. Bach & Beyond: A Well-Tempered Conversation

Julien Libeer

Classique - Verschenen op 14 januari 2022 | harmonia mundi

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To mark the 300th anniversary of the publication of Book I of The Well-Tempered Clavier, Julien Libeer had the idea of presenting it in an unusual light: here he initiates a dialogue in which Bach’s major-key prelude-and-fugue pairs "converse" with later pieces (in the corresponding minor keys) by composers who, in their own way, have built upon the advances Johann Sebastian made in his foundational undertaking. Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Ligeti, and Schoenberg are all part of the conversation with the Leipzig Cantor in this intricate play of mirrors... © harmonia mundi
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Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande

François-Xavier Roth

Opéra - Verschenen op 14 januari 2022 | harmonia mundi

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Sævarsson: Requiem - II. Kyrie

Choir of Clare College, Cambridge

Musique chorale (pour chœur) - Verschenen op 14 januari 2022 | harmonia mundi

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Georg Philipp Telemann: Viola Concertos - Overtures - Fantasias

Antoine Tamestit

Classique - Verschenen op 7 januari 2022 | harmonia mundi

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Unfixed dimensions, a paucity of repertoire, and that which there was being dull and unchallenging. These were the reasons that, as the violin rose to become the undisputed darling of the solo concerto and trio sonata in early eighteenth-century Italy, the viola became the instrument that no instrumentalist with an ounce of ambition beyond providing middle-voice orchestral padding was going to pick up. So, as much as the world would undoubtedly be a less jolly place without the viola jokes spawned by this ravishingly lovely alto instrument’s ignoble beginnings, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to eighteenth-century Germany, and in particular to Georg Philipp Telemann, for spotting its potential early enough for today’s viola players to nevertheless have some top-drawer Baroque repertoire to sink their teeth into. And in fact the very first true solo viola concerto was by Telemann. Composed at some point between 1716 and 1721, this four-movement Concerto in G major TWV 51:G9 for “viola da braccio” likewise sits here on Antoine Tamestit’s programme as its very first solo viola moment, introduced only after the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin have treated us to the Ouverture burlesque in B-flat major, with its succession of dances evoking the characters of the commedia dell’arte; and even in the context of the AAM’s warmly, precisely-articulated reading having already been providing fresh pleasures at every twist and turn, it’s still a showstopper of a moment when Tamestit’s gently lilting, mahogany-toned viola voice – a 1672 Stradivarius played with a baroque (copy) bow – suddenly sings forth from the concerto’s opening Largo. From here, the programme is as much a pleasure for its whirlwind tour of the eighteenth-century viola possibilities as it is for its superlative playing. While the aforementioned solo concerto presents the instrument’s expressive and virtuosic capabilities across its entire range, the other work written expressly for the viola is the four-movement Concert for two violettes – by which Telemann could have meant a pair of small violas only marginally larger than violins, whose lack of lower-register sonority would explain why the work entirely avoids the instrument’s lower range. For this particular elegant, delicate reading, Tamestit is partnered by Sabine Fehlandt, who then also joins him for a viola transposition of the fourth Canonic Sonata – originally designated for either flutes, violins or bass viols – where the two players play the same part at a distance of a few bars. The viola offerings are then completed by transpositions of the first two Fantasias for solo violin, which from Tamestit come glowing of tone, and multi-faceted of expression. Add a second top-drawer solo spot for the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin – the sparkling Ouverture “La Changeante”, each of whose movements is in a new key – and this album is one you’re likely to be returning to for many repeated listens. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Horn and Piano: A Cor Basse Recital

Teunis van der Zwart

Musique de chambre - Verschenen op 7 januari 2022 | harmonia mundi

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Eighteenth century horn virtuoso Giovanni Punto may be an unfamiliar name to most modern music lovers, but in his day he was quite literally being chased around Europe for his talents. Born Jan Václav Stich in 1746, aged twenty he fled the rural Bohemian estate of his employer, Count Thun, in search of a more interesting life – an escape which so infuriated the aristocrat, having spent a fortune sending Stich to perfect his technique in Prague, Munich and Dresden, that he sent soldiers after the young musician with orders to knock out his teeth so he would never play horn again. However Stich evaded Thun’s heavies, made it to Italy, changed his name to Giovanni Punto, and went on to forge a career as a virtuoso player and composer celebrated around Europe for his development of the hand-stopping technique which allows natural horn players to create more notes. Mozart and Beethoven both wrote works for him, and in London he was brought in to instruct the horn players of King George III’s private orchestra. On to natural horn specialist Teunis van der Zwart, and this recital partnered on the fortepiano by Alexander Melnikov is the performance fruits of his PhD research into Punto’s sound and technique, applying ornamentation and multiphonics, considering contemporary descriptions of Punto’s sound, and most importantly using a “cor basse” – or low horn – mouthpiece, because in Punto’s time the instrument’s wide range necessitated a clear distinction between its low and alto registers, with different mouthpieces employed for each. The “basse” mouthpiece was the larger of the two, producing a more velvety and less penetrating tone, and allowing leaps and jumps to be articulated with greater ease. For the modern player, though, the greater width of its inner rim constitutes what van der Zwart colourfully describes as a “massive shock”, when its 19 mm diameter is 2 mm wider than the ones he’s been used to for decades. “The difference might look negligible”, he says, “but… for several months it felt like playing a trombone mouthpiece”. As for the repertoire chosen to paint Punto’s world, the recital opens with Beethoven’s famous Sonata in F major, Op. 17 – probably the first ever horn sonata, which premiered in 1800 with Beethoven himself at the piano. Also on the menu is Melnikov’s piano arrangement of the first of Punto’s own sixteen Horn Concertos, published in 1777 and written to showcase his talents. Completing the picture are two sonatas from composers influenced by both Punto and Beethoven – Ferdinand Ries’s
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Christmas with Bach

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin

Classique - Verschenen op 10 december 2021 | harmonia mundi

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Christmas Carols through the Ages

Theatre of Voices

Classique - Verschenen op 10 december 2021 | harmonia mundi

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Licht der Welt (A Christmas Promenade)

Christiane Karg

Classique - Verschenen op 19 november 2021 | harmonia mundi

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In a follow-up to her acclaimed album of Mahler songs, Christiane Karg takes us on a Christmas tour, in the select company of fellow music-makers. Revisiting holiday memories through the eyes of a child, but with the benefit of her superb artistry as a lieder specialist, the German soprano shines a light on some enchanting rarities of German and French repertoire, along with examples of Spanish, Basque, and Scandinavian traditions... A treasure trove of hidden gems! © harmonia mundi
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J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2

Andreas Staier

Classique - Verschenen op 19 november 2021 | harmonia mundi

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"The Well-Tempered Clavier is not a cycle, it's a collection," Andreas Staier told QOBUZ in an interview in 2015, on the occasion of the concerts that the German harpsichordist and pianofortist was to present in Dijon, Royaumont and at the Philharmonie de Paris. To present is the right word, for Staier, like a passionate teacher, explained the genesis and sources of this vast ensemble to his audience with science and a certain humour, explaining how Bach had compiled a synthesis of all his sources and influences.Staier came late to this gigantic corpus with the seriousness that has always characterised him when he commits himself fully into a genre. After Schubert, then after Schumann, he has now turned his attention to this sumptuous work, the Second Book of which he recorded in the summer of 2020 in Berlin's Teldex Studio.To begin this complete work with its most complex facet, Andreas Staier uses a modern harpsichord built in Paris in 2004 by Anthony Sidey and Frédéric Bal, modelled on a German instrument that came from the workshop of Hieronymus Albrecht Hass in Hamburg in 1734. Here we discover all of Andreas Staier's talent, with his unique blend of dazzling virtuosity, elaborate ornamentation, and rigorous construction where chromaticism and rhythmic superimpositions become perfectly discernible beneath his fingers. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 "avec orgue" & Piano Concerto No. 4

Les Siècles

Classique - Verschenen op 19 november 2021 | harmonia mundi

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J.S. Bach: The Complete Works for Keyboard, Vol. 5, "Toccata & Weimar 1708-1717"

Benjamin Alard

Classique - Verschenen op 12 november 2021 | harmonia mundi

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The scale and detail of Benjamin Alard’s project to record all of Bach’s keyboard music only becomes more apparent as the series progresses. For a quick reminder, he’s grouping works not by genre but by chronology, meaning that any given volume represents a huge breadth of style. Also of instrument types and timbres, because as painstaking as the actual programming has been his matching of repertoire to an array of beautiful instruments, often thinking well outside the usual box. Volume 5 sits at the end of Bach’s youthful Weimar period, just before the action moves to the Cöthen, and those for whom Alard’s choices of keyboard have proved to be an especial source of fascination will want to know that this is the first volume for which Alard has introduced a clavichord to the mix – the only forerunner of the piano that was capable of producing dynamic variation by weight of touch alone. His chosen instrument is the Philharmonie de Paris’s silvery Émile Jobin clavichord (1998) after Christian Gottfried Friederici Gera (1773), and the soft, expressive intimacy it brings to Bach’s concerto transcriptions, such as the Concerto in G minor BWV 985 after a Telemann violin concerto, is very beguiling. As is the singing, dainty lilt he and it have brought to the Toccata in G major BWV 916. Which brings me to the volume’s other defining feature, which is its celebration of the art of the “toccata” (Italian for “touch”) style - one of improvisatory, unmeasured passages alternating with fugal sections. And Alard has in fact begun the whole programme with a nimbly elegant, fleet-footedly momentum-filled reading of the most famous toccata of all, the mighty Toccata and fugue in D minor BWV 565, which he performs on the bright-toned Quentin Blumenroeder organ in Paris’s Temple du Foyer de l’Âme. As for the final instrument on the billing, it’s the welcome return of the big-toned beauty we heard on Volume 4 – the Philippe Humeau copy of a 1720 Hamburg pedal harpsichord, which here Alard uses to bring ringing drama (magnificent trills….) to works such as the Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 538. In short, I’m already joyfully anticipating the Cöthen years. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 4, Op. 58 & "6", Op. 61a

Gianluca Cascioli

Musique concertante - Verschenen op 5 november 2021 | harmonia mundi

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Unexpected Beethoven. With Beethoven’s Piano Concertos No. 4 and Op. 61a, the latter being the composer’s own transcription of his Violin Concerto, Gianluca Cascioli, Riccardo Minasi and Ensemble Resonanz present two milestones of the piano literature. Basing their interpretation on intensive source research in the archives of the Vienna Musikverein and on handwritten notes by Beethoven, the performers suggest an alternative, more varied and virtuosic version of the piano part in Concerto No. 4. © harmonia mundi
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Rameau: Platée

Les Arts Florissants

Opéra - Verschenen op 29 oktober 2021 | harmonia mundi

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A marsh nymph thinks she is so irresistible that Jupiter himself will take an interest in her... Brimming with exceptional dramatic and musical verve, this strangely under-recorded "ballet bouffon" offers us Rameau’s art in a nutshell: glittering orchestration, harmonies and rhythms of unprecedented modernity. William Christie and his comrades plunge with delight into what is one of its composer’s most fascinating works. © harmonia mundi
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Hodie Christus natus est

The Boston Camerata

Classique - Verschenen op 29 oktober 2021 | harmonia mundi

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The famous ensemble specialising in the recreation of medieval music, the Boston Camerata, had already recorded an album devoted to the medieval Christmas in 1974, under the direction of its founder Joel Cohen, now their Music Director Emeritus. Conducted by his Franco-American wife Anne Azéma since 2008, the Boston Camerata now returns to this theme in a style so blindingly different from that of their pioneering days, almost fifty years ago.Whilst the spirit remains, the result takes into account all the expertise and the knowledge acquired since the first records by this New England, Massachusetts ensemble. Three singers and two instrumentalists bring to it their knowledge resulting from a great many years spent exploring the medieval repertoires. The present recording, made in July 2021 at St. Ignatius Church in Loyola in the Boston area, is from the last in a series of concerts performed on the East and West coasts of the United States and Canada.The programme for this new album is drawn from a wide variety of geographical and stylistic sources. Latin, Provençal, vernacular, the languages are set free on the anniversary of the Christmas Miracle in an eclectic repertoire. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Louis de Caix d'Hervelois, in the footsteps of Marin Marais

La Rêveuse

Classique - Verschenen op 22 oktober 2021 | harmonia mundi

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Recorded in the inspiring settings of the Château de Chambord in 2020, this album does justice to Louis de Caix d'Hervelois, whose career, like Watteau's paintings and Marivaux's plays, began in the eighteenth century. His elegance, lightness and delicate eroticism can still impart a certain frisson in an age when seriousness and constraints of all kinds have rather displaced a certain joie de vivre.Likely a pupil of Marin Marais, Caix d'Hervelois wrote and published extensively for the viola da gamba, an instrument that was in the final stages of its development and would shortly be supplanted by the cello, which was more sonorous and easier to play. He left a considerable legacy in stone as well as in music, which he taught to a great many pupils. A totally independent musician, which was very rare at the time, he made his living from tutoring the bourgeoisie of Paris, from his publications and, above all, it seems, from his real estate investments: for this excellent musician was also a formidable businessman.At first, his style was inspired by that of his master Marin Marais. But it evolved in a new direction, oriented towards lightness and virtuosity. In hushed salons, listeners came to be intoxicated by the original and playful harmonies of this Picard who had come to Paris seeking fame and fortune. The delicacy of his music and the modesty of his art still touch listeners today, especially since the musicians of the ensemble La Rêveuse, led by Florence Bolton on viol and Benjamin Perrot on continuo, bring consummate artistry to bear on this characterful example of fine French art. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Brahms: Piano Sonata Op. 5 & 7 Fantasien, Op. 116

Adam Laloum

Classique - Verschenen op 1 oktober 2021 | harmonia mundi

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After his recent Schubert album, Adam Laloum pays a visit to Brahms: the young prodigy of the early 1850s immediately established himself as the worthy heir of Beethoven and Schumann with his dazzling Sonata No. 3. Almost forty years later, we find him just as wild and in no way mellowed – quite the contrary: he continues to explore new horizons in his Fantasias Op. 116, where recollections of the old masters of the Classical keyboard mingle with incredibly modern intuitions. © harmonia mundi
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Face à Face

Romain Leleu Sextet

Classique - Verschenen op 1 oktober 2021 | harmonia mundi

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For Romain Leleu, what we call "classical" music could never have gained all its richness and variety without absorbing manifold influences from “popular” music that continues to be its fuel since the dawn of time! Parallel to the release of his album of film music prominently featuring the trumpet, the French virtuoso, backed by his friends and partners in the Romain Leleu Sextet, has brought into a face to face dialogue a selection of hit tunes from far-flung sources that transcend genres and national borders. © harmonia mundi