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Cantatas (secular) - Released July 9, 2021 | London Philharmonic Orchestra

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Cantatas (secular) - Released November 13, 2020 | London Philharmonic Orchestra

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Vladimir Martynov’s Utopia Symphony is a musical tribute to Singapore from a son of the Russian avant-garde of the 1970s. Martynov skillfully combines influences from American minimalism and Russian Orthodox chant with a libretto inspired by the ancient text of the Tao Te Ching to create a sound world which seeks to reimagine the concept of utopia. This world premiere recording was made at London’s Abbey Road Studios, under the baton of Vladimir Jurowski. © LPO Live

Secular Vocal Music - Released August 1, 2020 | Troba Vox

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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 29, 2019 | Decca

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She had to dare. Cecilia Bartoli appears on this album cover nude, androgynous, in a full beard and with hair down to her shoulders, delving deeper into the legend surrounding Farinelli, already explored with questionable sensationalism in the world of cinema and replaced with more correct historical precision in Patrick Barbier's brilliant book dedicated to the famous Neapolitan castrato. The now-lost voice of castratos made eager crowds go wild at the time, the singers carrying a certain mythical aura around them, attributed to the confusion of their gender, bathed in an ambiguous eroticism. These music lovers have not however disappeared: they're the ones rushing to hear the Italian singer's vocal prowess both in concert and on disc. For this opus dedicated to Farinelli, Cecilia Bartoli has chosen well-known melodies from the repertoire of the famous singer, varying her vocal fireworks she is so renowned for with some more dramatic, introspective tunes. Cecilia Bartoli conjures up Porpora, Hasse, Giacomelli, Caldara and Riccardo Broschi, Farinelli's own brother in a thrilling spectacle which aims, if not to uncover a hypothetical voice of the past, to replicate the chills it could produce thanks to her passion and dedication to the art. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 15, 2019 | Erato - Warner Classics

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Christina Pluhar has long been interested in the vocal music of the 17th century, in particular that of composer Luigi Rossi born around 1597 in the beautiful province of Puglia. He was the titular composer to the Medicis in Florence before taking a job with Cardinal Barberini in Rome. In France, Cardinal Mazarin commissioned him to produce the first Italian opera written specifically for the French court. In a manner of speaking, Rossi is at the root of the productions that another Italian, Lully, would later write for Louis XIV. In 2005, Christina Pluhar had recorded the Lyra d'Orfeo, taken from Rossi's desk drawer, with her ensemble L'Arpeggiata, with the voice of Veronique Gens in all its splendour. But a legal problem arose which prevented its production as a record for nearly 15 years. With the lawsuit ongoing, Christina Pluhar completed her project with Arpa Davidica, a new original compilation of works by Luigi Rossi, which she and her assistants discovered in various libraries. Pluhar has selected a series of virtuoso, theatrical pieces geared closely to the lyrics, as Rossi would set to music the most beautiful poems of his day. Taking on the best voices of the moment, Cécile Scheen, Giuseppina Bridelli, Philippe Jaroussky, Jakub Józef Orliński and Valer Sabadus, Christina Pluhar has pulled out all the stops to bring enchanting and incredibly musically-rich material back to life. The few indications relating to the instrumental accompaniment left on the manuscripts leave the performers almost total freedom. They can imagine all sorts of instrumental combinations to link complicated melismas with the virtuosity of the vocal lines that the composer intended. The interpretation also works as a complete recreation. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released May 3, 2019 | PentaTone

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On her first album under the label PentaTone, Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená returns to her first baroque loves, collaborating with her fellow countryman Václav Luks and his excellent Prague ensemble. Both a harpsichordist and a horn player, Václav Luks studied at Basel Schola Cantorum before founding the choir Collegium Vocale 1704 in 2005, made up of ninety Czech singers and musicians.Titled Giardino dei sospiri (garden of sighs), this new album is a collection of scenes from secular cantatas or oratorios that glorify tragic love. The tragic heroes highlighted here in various pages of George Frideric Handel, Leonardo Leo, Benedetto Marcello, Leonardo Vinci, Francesco Gasparini and Domenico Sarro find in Magdalena Kožená a staunch advocate, who perfectly lives up to the task! A multi-faceted musical drama unfolds in our ears, which was initially created as a staged project.“From manipulative Agrippina, who would stop at nothing to put her son Nero on the throne, to magician Armida bewitching Rinaldo, and the priestess Hero who couldn’t survive her lover Leander’s accidental death, Magdalena Kožená brings the legendary heroines to life, with all the depth and virtuosity of her singing”, reads the introduction of the show Magdalena Kožená and Václav Luks will perform on their European tour in spring 2019. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released April 12, 2019 | Arcana

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Despite the rivalry between the operatic companies leaded by Haendel and Porpora in London (1734-1737), much has to be said about the real nature of the connection between the two composers. Both the musicians were considered outstandingly original for their aesthetic choices. Both admired each other's music. The few whirlwind years of their defiance in Great Britain produced memorable scores: among them, Ariodante by Haendel and Polifemo by Porpora, performed with simultaneous runs in the city theaters. The fight between the two operatic company was an opportunity for the composers to meet and discover each other, to deal with the taste of the audience and to experiment new ideas, getting strength from the incredible skills of the members of the vocal casts (Farinelli, Senesino, Carestini, etc.). This album tries to capture the soul of such a complicated intellectual relationship, presenting significant exemples of the composers' style and outlining the borders of the mutual esteem between two giants in the history of music. On her debut solo album, the young talented mezzosoprano Giuseppina Bridelli performs with effortless bravery the difficult pages written for some of the most famous singers of the 18th century: between them, a version with original variations of Haendel Scherza infida. © Arcana
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Secular Vocal Music - Released March 1, 2019 | Signum Records

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The Choral Scholars of University College Dublin and Artistic Director Desmond Earley follow up their debut release with a programme of new choral music inspired by the evocative imagery of the natural world in traditional Irish and Scottish folksong and poetry. The disc includes a number of world-premiere recordings of new works and arrangements commissioned by the choir. The Choral Scholars of University College Dublin, under the artistic direction of Desmond Earley, is Ireland’s leading collegiate choral ensemble. His large repertoire is ranging from art to popular music, and stretching from the medieval to the contemporary in style.
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Secular Vocal Music - Released March 1, 2019 | Dacapo

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Secular Vocal Music - Released January 25, 2019 | Alpha Classics

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Mezzo-soprano Eva Zaïcik, who has signed up with Alpha for several recordings, is one of the most prominent vocal artists of her generation. She was chosen as ‘Révélation lyrique’ at the Victoires de la Musique Classique 2018, and elected the same year a Laureate of the prestigious Queen Elizabeth of Belgium Competition. She has participated in the “Jardin des Voix” of les Arts Florissants under William Christie, also regularly collaborates with Le Poème Harmonique and Vincent Dumestre – but her constant accompanist is the harpsichordist Justin Taylor. Together with two other musician graduates, the violinists Théotime Langlois de Swarte, Sophie de Bardonnèche and the gamba player Louise Pierrard, they have founded Le Consort, to explore both sacred and secular works by composers such as Charpentier, Campra and Clérambault. For this recording they are joined by the flautist Anna Besson and gamba player Lucile Boulanger, both well-known to the Alpha label, and Thibault Roussel (theorbo). This recording is devoted to the Cantatas of Lefebvre, Montéclair, Clérambault and Courbois, more than half of which have never previously been recorded. The cantata inspired non-operatic composers to play out the fashionable narratives of the day on a reduced scale, and in the intimate surroundings of the salons. It is a subtle genre and a vivid depiction of the characters. © Outhere Music
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Secular Vocal Music - Released January 4, 2019 | Glossa

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With Vieni, dolce Imeneo, La Compagnia del Madrigale make another important halt on their compelling journey across the territory of Italian secular song with a disc devoted to one of the most significant, yet these days somewhat bypassed, composers: Cipriano de Rore. De Rore was a Fleming who enjoyed great success notably in the Italian courts of Ferrara and Parma – but with a prestige which extended up and across Europe. He composed in many genres, but it is the secular madrigal – recorded here – where his skill was most valued, for example in creating extended and expressive melodic lines coupled with innovatory pre-echoes of the “seconda pratica” so triumphantly expressed – albeit amidst great criticism – by Claudio Monteverdi. Recordings – all also on Glossa – of madrigals by Marenzio, Gesualdo and Monteverdi have already demonstrated musical pleasures such as an uncommon vocal blend and delicacy, and a meticulous dynamic control exhibited by the richly experienced members of La Compagnia del Madrigale, and those delights are to be experienced with these 19 madrigals by Cipriano de Rore, composed late in his career. With texts by Petrarch, Ariosto and assorted court poets for these madrigals, essay-writer Marco Bizzarini highlights one of the principal characteristic features of de Rore’s mastery when he points to the disc’s title track, Vieni, dolce Imeneo: the ideal union between poetry and music. © Glossa
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Cantatas (secular) - Released December 7, 2018 | CPO

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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 30, 2018 | Aparté

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This recital by the countertenor Xavier Sabata, accompanied by Arnadí's Vespres ensemble, takes its title "L'Alessandro amante" from a lost homonymous opera by Giovanni Boretti. Why Alexander the Great? He is the most exploited historical figure in the history of opera, especially in the Baroque period, with Metastasio’s libretto Alessandro nell'Indie basing some sixty-five operas on the figure. Moreover, the historical Alexander was a complex figure, a mixture of violence, arrogance and ambition, but also a generous man, knowing how to recognize the humanity of an enemy by considering them his equal. The journey onto which his figure invites us is twofold: a biographical journey through battles, conquests and achievements first (not always historically accurate, mind...), as well as a musical journey through a hundred years, from 1660 to 1760, at a time when immense changes were occurring almost every twenty years. We therefore travel from Antonio Draghi to Nicola Porpora, via Handel, Leo, Bononcini and a few others in the same vein. The recital offers as many different "Alexanders" as it does pieces, though two major groups emerge: Alexander the warrior, reserved for higher voices, and Alexander the lover, whose melodies are entrusted to the alto register. Of course, Sabata can cover both poles. © SM/Qobuz
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Cantatas (secular) - Released November 23, 2018 | Erato

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Record of the Month - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Handel's Italian cantatas date from early in his career, with few exceptions (none on display here). As a group they are less well-known than his operas, but they're equally virtuosic, and performances of the cantatas whole, as with the three here, are a bit more satisfying than with the operas. The cantatas were composed for parties among powerful Roman cardinals, and they catch the young Handel at the peak of his first success, as Roman audiences hailed him as "il caro Sassone" (the dear Saxon). The arias are fancy and a bit brash, and one key to a good performance is to catch this quality. Both the singers here, French soprano Sabine Devieilhe and French-Italian mezzo Lea Desandre, are up-and-comers, and they offer fine, dramatically enthusiastic performances. The highlight is perhaps the first cantata of the set, Aminta e Fillide, HWV 83, where the contrast between the sparkling Devieilhe and the silvery-voiced Desandre is a pleasure in itself. This is a pastoral where the long-suffering shepherd gets the girl, for a change, even though she dismisses Cupid's charms (sample Desandre in "Fu scherzo, fu gioco," with its quiet high notes). The second and third works are solo cantatas, one for each singer, and Desandre effectively changes gears for subtle interactions with an active continuo cello. Both singers are aided superbly by Le Concert d'Astrée under Emmanuelle Haïm, a veteran group by this time but one that sounds entirely fresh in this delightful vocal program. © TiVo
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Secular Vocal Music - Released September 21, 2018 | SOMM Recordings

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
Somm Recordings is delighted to present a revelatory collection of orchestral songs by Sir Edward Elgar (on double slimline selling as a single disc), performed by two of today’s most exciting young singers – mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge and baritone Henk Neven – accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Barry Wordsworth. Historically the least regarded part of Elgar’s output, his songs contain a treasure-trove of vocal gems and here receive performances of insight, imagination and emotional directness. The Op. 59 Song Cycle is an exemplary case in point, by turns quietly radiant, touchingly nostalgic and achingly melancholic. Two settings of poems by Elgar’s wife – the richly orchestrated The Wind at Dawn and celebratory The King’s Way (which borrows a tune from his Fourth Pomp and Circumstance March) – show Elgar at his most evocative and ebullient. Sombre and powerful, The Pipes of Pan boasts colourful imagery and driving rhythmic energy, The River and The Torch wholly Elgarian in their wonderful sonorities. A first recording of the orchestral version of the marching song Follow the Colours shows Elgar at his most patriotic. The complete incidental music for a 1901 staging of WB Yeats’ Grania and Diarmid offers a rare opportunity to experience the full gamut of Elgar’s moving and dramatic evocation of a timeless tale of love in the ancient Irish myth. A bonus disc of recordings made under the auspices of the Elgar Society showcases soprano Nathalie de Montmollin and pianist Barry Collett in a collection of piano-accompanied songs. It includes first recordings of the piano version of ‘Winter’ from The Mill Wheel (with its churning left-hand patterns and a text by the composer’s wife) and the world-weary tread of Muleteer’s Serenade, setting words from Cervantes’ Don Quixote.© Somm Recordings
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Cantatas (secular) - Released September 21, 2018 | Fra Bernardo

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Secular Vocal Music - Released July 20, 2018 | Claves Records

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Secular Vocal Music - Released May 25, 2018 | Sony Classical

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The main composers presented here are Johann Hermann Schein and Melchior Franck, the essential representatives of early German baroque. Schein and Franck were almost exact contemporaries of each other, and developed their respective careers not fifty leagues apart – Coburg for Franck, Leipzig for Schein, who was, remember, a predecessor of Bach's in the role of Cantor of Saint Thomas – but it seems they never met. It must be said that during the 30 Years' War, journeys were not undertaken lightly, and people were much more concerned with not getting gutted, infected with the plague, or killed by starvation than they were with taking day-trips from town to town. It's also startling that so many works have survived to the present day, including in particular the Hohelied Salomos from 1608 – the "Song of Solomon" by Franck, and Schein's collection of Musica boscareggia dating from 1621/28 and the Diletti pastorali of 1628, including several love motets, presented here by Jörg-Andreas Bötticher's instrumental and vocal ensemble Voces suaves. By way of historical reference point, we also here two pieces by Palestrina – after all, the German baroque was greatly influenced by the Italian madrigal – performed in their instrumental version as ornamented by two famous cornettists of the time, Luigi Zenobi and Antonio Bassiano, who have left us many examples of the art of musical variation and ornamentation as they practised it. © SM/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released May 25, 2018 | Arcana

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Not much is known of the life of Giacomo Gorzanis, born around 1520, and died in 1579; he was almost certainly blind, probably from birth, judging from the note written in his Third Book for lute published in Venice in 1564 ("I, blind" and "I, deprived of light"); he was probably a very famous lutist, going by the note on his First Book of lute in 1562 lauding his"long experience over many years with the lute", and he probably also sang at the court of Archduke Charles II of Austria, if the note in his Second Book of Neapolitan songs of 1571 is to be believed: "the memory I retain, as your humble servant, and the true affection I bear for you." In short, it was a full life, in which Gorzanis would publish no less than five volumes of tablature for the lute between 1561 and 1575, and two books of Neapolitan songs in 1570 and 1571, which are precious glimpses of what is probably a much broader body of work, but of which now very little remains. The subjects taken on by the villanelles and other songs run from Petrarch and Ariosto to rather more daring stuff, even making allusions to forbidden love, the eternal subject matter of "popular" songs from the Renaissance to today. These pages, while still marked with a hefty dose of polyphony in the accompaniment, turn rather more towards the new style of melody, underpinned by a simple backcloth of chords – the ancestor of canzone napoletana, as it were, in which the line sung takes precedence over any other consideration. Pino de Vittorio (who sings but also plays the naker) is accompanied by Fabio Accurso and Bor Zuljan on lute and guitar, as well as Domen Marinčič on viole da gamba and percussion – including the dulce melos, a kind of hammered zither – played by Massimiliano Dragoni. © SM/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released April 27, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Exceptional Sound Recording
We could say that the composers chosen here by Sébastien Daucé and the Ensemble Correspondances cover England from 1600 to 1700, from Coprario's generation (real name Cooper, but Italicised for fashion reasons!), Johnson and Lanier, all born before the turn of the 17th century, up to Hart and Blow who died just after. Step by step, we follow the integration of the new art brought over from Italy, although the typically-Italian recitations remain coloured by "declamation", a typical feature of English music. Another clear pivot is the twenty-year musical hiatus between the start of the Civil War in 1642 and the Restoration with Charles II's return to the throne, and in between, the Puritan religious dictatorship of Cromwell, which tried to ban more or less any form of celebration, including music. A number of English artists chose exile in the countryside, teaching music, or went abroad. This comprehensive selection spanning a whole century allows the Correspondances ensemble, a broad group of singers and instrumentalists, to show their deep knowledge of this whole epoch, which is extremely rich despite often precarious conditions of life and threats to survival. © SM/Qobuz