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Sacred Vocal Music - Released July 1, 2021 | The Teshin Company

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Sacred Vocal Music - Released June 25, 2021 | Paraty

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"This Valette is one of the most stupendous geniuses we have and his music is stupendous too". This is how the famed Sebastian de Brossard introduces his contemporary composer Joseph Valette de Montigny. Though acknowledged for its qualities, Montigny’s music has very rarely been played. Nor has it ever been recorded. Simply on account of its rarity and the absence of scores, it has remained unpublished. Thanks to this recording on which two great motets are performed, Antiphona Ensemble and its director Rolandas Muleïka are filling a vacuum. These motets are two outstanding pieces in Joseph de Montigny’s catalogue. Musicologist Benoît Michel, who died at a very young age, was the main instigator of this felicitous rediscovery: he would undoubtedly have felt enthusiastic about the release of this recording. This presentation draws to a large extent upon his work. © 2021 Paraty
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Choirs (sacred) - Released June 18, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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This recording came to fruition thanks to nearly 25 years’ worth of efforts. In 1997, Marcel Pérès and his Ensemble Organum began a simultaneous exploration of the Mozarabic rite (the liturgical chant peculiar to the Christians living in Spain at the time of Arab rule) and of the Samaa spiritual practice of Morocco. Setting aside the theological differences between the two faiths, the artists discovered a great deal of kinship between the two forms of musical expression. A veritable utopia, the idea for this recording then suggested itself: through music, to regain the lost accord of human brotherhood. © harmonia mundi

Sacred Vocal Music - Released June 1, 2021 | The Teshin Company

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Cantatas (sacred) - Released May 28, 2021 | Audax Records

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Sacred Vocal Music - Released May 1, 2021 | The Teshin Company

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Sacred Oratorios - Released April 23, 2021 | Adora

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Sacred Oratorios - Released April 23, 2021 | Adora

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Sacred Vocal Music - Released April 9, 2021 | Bayard Musique

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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released March 26, 2021 | Claves Records

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The Mass in B minor holds a very special place in J.S. Bach’s output: a work of grandeur, an opus ultimum, it was not composed as such but is the result of an assembly of pieces written at different times and for different circumstances. Bach worked on it during the years 1748-1749, until his eyesight, which had gradually deteriorated, was completely lost. The idea of bringing together pieces drawn essentially from the vast corpus of cantatas was not unusual; a similar approach was taken by several of his contemporaries, such as Handel, and Bach himself had done so for the short masses he composed in the late 1730s. These were called parodies. Moving from the German text of the cantatas to the Latin text of the masses meant adapting the vocal lines, with additions and deletions, polyphonic and harmonic enrichments, and changes in instrumentation. Throughout his life, Bach never ceased to revisit his works with a view to improving them.

Sacred Vocal Music - Released March 19, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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Formed in 2008, Sebastien Daucé's Ensemble Correspondances is now firmly established as a byword for quality and creativity in the performance of early music, with their acclaimed revivals of both the known and the long-neglected sacred and secular music of seventeenth century France, and with a rich discography to match. This latest recorded offering now sees them step out beyond France's borders for a foray into the Germanic repertoire, the headline pieces being a major work each from Dietrich Buxtehude and Heinrich Schütz. Buxtehude's Membra Jesu Nostri (“The limbs of our Jesus”) opens the programme. An ambitious seven-part cycle of Passion cantatas over which an unnamed observer slowly raises their gaze from the feet of the scourged “Man of Sorrows” to his face, this was composed in 1680 for Buxtehude's friend Gustav Düben. Düben was music director to the Swedish court, and the work was probably commissioned for a court occasion, most likely premiered in the galleries of the German Church in Stockholm, which the court church at the time. Buxtahude's own official role was as organist at Lübeck's Marienkirche – a title which, in contrast to the kantor role which would have obliged him to be churning out new liturgical music every week, allowed him to compose when and how he wished, thus cutting no corners on quality. That's very apparent in this cycle, which book-ends poetic texts set as strophic arias with biblical words set for full instrumental and vocal forces, all couched within an imaginative tonal progression which opens with the feet in the darkest tonalities using flats, before gradually moving through to the brighter, sharp tonalities as the eyes move up towards the face (although it's eventually a C minor close, for architecture's sake). Daucé's personal contribution to the mix has then been to prepare a new edition from the original performing parts which has further enrichened the colouristic and textural palette: adding a viola part for three of the cantatas; changing the allocation of stringed bass instruments so that the viol and violone aren't systematically playing with the continuo or violins; having two voices to a part for the chorus numbers, thus clearly distinguishing between soli and ripieni. Add Ensemble Correspondances's expressive, crisply articulated and suavely blended vocal performances, and the lucid delicacy of the instrumental support, and the results are very fine. Schütz's major offering meanwhile is his late-career masterpiece, Die sieben Worte (“The Seven Words”), which inventively combines motet-like settings with expressive recitative. However the programme's joys aren't limited to its headline events. For instance there's also Schütz's Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott, a vocal concerto with densely contrapuntal instrumental textures which here grabs from the off with the beautiful puritan sobriety of the ensemble string tone, and the gently impassioned soprano entry. Then, for a real rarity, complementing mourning music from Buxtehude is the state music-redolent Lamentum by Swedish organist Ludert Dijkman (c1645-1717), written at the passing of two Swedish princes. It'll be fascinating to see where Daucé turns next. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz

Sacred Vocal Music - Released February 12, 2021 | Aparté

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Le Concert de la Loge and Julien Chauvin continue the Haydn adventure with the "Paris" Symphonies No. 84 and No. 86. The conductor and his period instruments orchestra complete the programme with the beautiful Stabat Mater, one of Haydn’s most performed ones during his lifetime. Composed in 1767 during the "Sturm and Drang" period, the Stabat Mater’s strikingly sober and plain expression (« Fac me vere tecum flere ») doesn’t exclude some outstanding passages, as in the « Sancta Mater, istud agas ». © Aparté Music
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released February 12, 2021 | Arcana

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Johann Hermann Schein, Sebastian Knüpfer, Johann Schelle, Andreas Gleich, Johann Georg Ebeling, Johannes Kessel, Johann Rosenmüller – all names that are unlikely to be familiar to you, unless you happen to be especially knowledgeable on the subject of early German Baroque composers. Yet all enjoyed esteemed reputations in their day, and three of them – Schein, Knüpfer and Schelle – were actually predecessors of Johann Sebastian Bach in the lofty role of Leipzig ThomasKantor. Then even less familiar to most listeners will be the music these men composed for funeral services, because when each service's music was created specifically for that one event, and reflected the tastes and choices of the deceased person it honoured, it didn't make sense to publish it for wider performance. Consequently, the first thing to point about about this programme of seventeenth century German funeral music from Basel-based vocal ensemble Voces Suaves under Johannes Strobl, is the feast of unknown repertoire presented around its central performance of Schütz's Musikalische Exequien; because while Schütz was so proud of this structurally and texturally ambitious 1636 work for the funeral of Henry II, Count of Reuss-Gera, that he published it at his own expense that very year, the surrounding motets from his above-mentioned contemporaries have been transcribed specifically for this recording, direct from the original sources, with much of it recorded for the very first time. The performances themselves have more than done this rare repertoire justice, too: beautifully lucid textures both in the choral singing and the sensitive accompanying from violone, theorbo and organ; bright, clear-toned vocal tones, with a particularly exquisitely light and pure upper-register soprano sound on show in motets such as Gleich's Selig sind die Toten; crisp articulation and sombre, heartfelt expression of the texts overall. Add the fact that the back catalogue isn't bursting with previous recordings even of the Schütz, and this album is very welcome indeed. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released February 5, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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Faced with the plethora of Beethoven recordings released in 2020, we expect more from some than from others, and this applies to this Missa Solemnis. An absolute masterpiece of Western music, it is conducted by René Jacobs, whose recent recording of Leonore (the first version of the opera Fidelio by the same Beethoven) conquered the musical world. Composed in 1824, the Missa, "a rough and uncomfortable work that leaves no room for narcissism in the singers" according to René Jacobs (and he would know what he is talking about!) is an older sister to the Ninth Symphony which shares the same faith in man over divinity. Recorded in Berlin in May 2019, this version packs as intense a gut-punch as a live concert.The understated and profound Kyrie brings shadow and meditation. Then, a surging explosive Gloria, a stirring call for peace and brotherhood, from the heart of all humanity presses this splendid performance onward. Without doubt, the RIAS Kammerchor has added one more stone to an edifice of recordings of the highest quality. In addition we are treated to an instrumental finale rarely heard and four soloists who contribute to the expressive power of the whole. All of Beethoven is here, with his idealism, his tenderness, and also his way of hammering out peace with mighty blows. As Goethe would have said “He would squash a fly with a rock”. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Sacred Oratorios - Released December 28, 2020 | Adora

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Sacred Oratorios - Released December 18, 2020 | Adora

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Sacred Oratorios - Released December 18, 2020 | Adora

Sacred Vocal Music - Released December 4, 2020 | Marek Klein

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Sacred Vocal Music - Released November 20, 2020 | Naxos

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The Laudario di Cortona is a collection of monophonic laude, dating from the second half of the 13th century but rediscovered only in 1876. They're far from common on recordings, and some listeners will gravitate toward this recording for this reason alone. They will also get much more from director Paul Hillier and Ars Nova Copenhagen, an ensemble that Hillier has honed to a precise edge rivaling that of the legendary Hilliard Ensemble. The Cortona songs are semi-popular praise songs, probably sung by monks in the street, and the singers of Ars Nova Copenhagen modulate their style in a slightly folkish direction, with attractive results. The rest of the program fits exceptionally well with these unusual items. Much of it consists of music by Arvo Pärt, a Hillier specialty, to be sure, but these are late Pärt works from the 2000s and 2010s that have a new simplicity. The segue from the Lauda novella sia cantata to Pärt's Drei Hirtenkinder aus Fátima, a seemingly folkish piece that blooms steadily into a rich polyphony, is delightful. There are also straightforward but entirely original works by Caroline Shaw and Julia Wolfe. The whole album is unusually coherent, even by Hillier's high standards, and it will linger in the mind. Hillier is ably supported by Naxos engineers, working at the Garnisonkirken in Copenhagen; the sound is clear and rich. © TiVo
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Sacred Oratorios - Released November 13, 2020 | LSO Live

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Few recordings exist of Beethoven’s unique oratorio which drew influence from Händel’s work Haydn’s The Creation and the Seasons. A revelation came in 1966 Philadelphia when Eugene Ormandy made a beautiful recording of the oratorio. Ormandy’s lead was then followed by several more recordings. But, the composition remains a rarity within repertoires, even the monumental Beethoven edition published by Deutsche Grammophone for the 200th anniversary of the composers birth omitted this deserving oratorio. Christ on the Mount of Olives’ writing and theatricality varies in an experimental fashion that would give birth to Leonore the following year and then Fidelio ten years later. Beethoven seems to oscillate between several genres with a writing style that mixes academia, operatic vocal virtuosity and innovation (stemming from his own language). The bad reception of his 1803 work seems to shadow this oratorio like a malediction. This new recording by Sir Simon Rattle, captured during a concert performed at the Barbican Centre in London in February 2020, turns a salutary spotlight onto an all too often neglected work. Elsa Dreisig plays the seraph with great virtuosity and Pavol Breslik as a determined Christ. It was the first time that a composer had had Christ sang by a tenor and not by a bass singer, as was tradition. David Soar accurately plays the role of Peter, who is somewhat treated as secondary on the score. The choirs are omnipresent in their representation of the crowds (the “turba”) and their cries and murmurs. The one hundred and twenty-five singers in the London Symphony Choir are the true heroes of this vigorous interpretation which is brought to life with energy and dramatism by a particularly inspired and elated Sir Simon. © François Hudry/Qobuz