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Classical - Released March 27, 2020 | La Dolce Volta

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released March 20, 2020 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released March 20, 2020 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica
The starting point for Barbara Hannigan’s third recording for Alpha is a work by Gérard Grisey (1946-98) that is particularly close to her heart. Grisey wrote: ‘I conceived the Quatre Chants pour franchir le seuil (Four songs for crossing the threshold) as a musical meditation on death in four parts: the death of the angel, the death of civilisation, the death of the voice and the death of humanity... The texts chosen belong to four civilisations (Christian, Egyptian, Greek, Mesopotamian) and have in common a fragmentary discourse on the inevitability of death’. Luigi Nono (1924-90) was a politically engaged composer. His stunning monody Djamila Boupacha, a heart-rending cry for solo soprano, pays tribute to a freedom fighter tortured by French paratroopers during the Algerian war; Picasso also portrayed her in charcoal. Once again Barbara Hannigan both sings and directs this pair of twentieth-century works with her friends of the Ludwig Orchestra. She has chosen to couple them with a Classical symphony by the master of the genre, Joseph Haydn, which also deals with the theme of the Passion. Her interpretation is extremely intense and highly personal. © Alpha Classics
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Classical - Released March 13, 2020 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
What exactly is this “new path” (neuer Weg) that the infamous fortepianist Andreas Staier is inviting us on with this new album published as part of harmonia mundi’s vast Beethoven 2020-2027 project? All the works offered here were composed at the dawn of the 19th century by a young tempestuous composer who was conscious of his worth but also of his weakness as he began to feel the first effects of the deafness that would go on to take over his life. This recital is mind blowing from the first few beats of the thundering Sonata No. 16 in G major. With his crystalline, weightless fortepiano built by Mathias Müller around 1810, Staier seems to show us how much this frail instrument labours to show the full spectrum of the composer’s genius, boundary-breaking as it was at the time. The three sonatas and two series of variations that make up this programme were all published in 1802, at a time when Beethoven wanted to “start something new” at the turn of the century after the slew of revolutionary torment that had shaken Europe to its core. It was a new way of thinking for a composer who spoke with a more authoritative tone than his predecessors, in the “first person”. Andreas Staier is without a doubt one of the best possible performers to portray this new era of musical and artistic thinking that arose during a troubled time (the rise of Napoleon) when the clarity of language rivalised the closing off of individuality. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released March 6, 2020 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica
After recording Rachmaninov's 24 Preludes and a recital dedicated to Claude Debussy for his new publisher harmonia mundi, pianist Nikolai Lugansky extends his repertoire even further with a monographic album dedicated solely to César Franck. The list of piano works by this organ-playing composer was not very extensive, so Lugansky chose to perform the Prelude, Fugue and Variation Op. 18, and theChorale No. 2 , on the piano, both in the same key. Written specifically for the piano, the two triptychs Prélude, Choral et Fugue and Prélude, Aria et Final are inspired by both Bach and Liszt and had an obvious influence on later French music, particularly with Albéric Magnard (Symphony No. 3) and all the way up to Francis Poulenc (Concerto for organ ). Nikolai Lugansky constructs these pieces like a builder, with unfailing solidity. He brings out the architecture and the projections with power and fullness, while looking for what he calls "a French sound, a beauty of sonority and refined sound without lourdeur". © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released March 6, 2020 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
After several recordings with Anima Eterna and Jos Van Immerseel, the French violinist Chouchane Siranossian tackles a programme of extremely virtuosic concertos that few Baroque violinists dare to face. Thanks to her technical gifts and to partners ideally suited to this repertory – the Venice Baroque Orchestra and its conductor Andrea Marcon, a specialist in the Italian Baroque style – she takes up the challenge with brio. This album is released to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Tartini’s death in 2020. Of special interest is a completely unknown and unpublished Concerto in G major, the manuscript of which was recently found by the musicologist Margherita Canale. © Alpha Classics
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Classical - Released February 21, 2020 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Distinctions Choc de Classica
Maurizio Pollini revisits Beethoven’s final three sonatas (Op. 109 to 111), forty years after recording the very same score for the first time, a score which sees the composer elevate the genre to dizzying levels of expertise. The Italian pianist explains that ever since January 1977 (the first time he recorded No. 32, Nos. 30 and 31 dating even further back to June 1975), he has continuously discovered an infinite number of details within the material and the structure over the course of the multiple times he has performed the three sonatas. Beethoven strays away from the conventions of the traditional sonata with these, something he had been doing since his Opus 27 (Quasi una fantasia, Moonlight), inserting various astonishing shapes. Thus, variation (Op. 109, Arietta of the Op. 111) and fugue (Op. 110, after that of the Opus 101) assume an innovative importance here, much like other unrestricted episodes where Beethoven appears to be expressing very personal emotions, initiating the Romantic era, where subjectivity reigns over structure. Recorded in concert, Maurizio Pollini brings a surprising amount of urgency (Op. 109) and lyricism (Op. 110) to this release that ensures its place as one of the best Pollini recitals in recent years (Beethoven, Debussy, Chopin). A must-listen. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Keyboard Concertos - Released February 21, 2020 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica
The unconventional character that is Benjamin Grosvenor delivers us a very personal version of these two essential works of the piano repertoire. The first Brit to have signed an exclusive contract with Decca Classics in sixty years, he first made his name in 2004 when he won the Keyboard section of BBC Young Musician of the Year, thus throwing the doors open to an international career. Produced alongside the talented young conductor from Hong Kong Elim Chan, the musical director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, this new album dedicated to Chopin revisits the young British prodigy’s first musical loves. It was following a very successful concert with Elim Chan that they decided to record the Piano concertos by Chopin together. In this fifth album (for Decca), it’s Grosvenor’s virtuosity and ability to make the instrument sing that allow him to fully express his favourite music. “Chopin was the first composer to whom I felt a strong connection to as a child. I have always been drawn to his music, and his piano concertos are among some of the finest in the repertoire”, he says. Other than his already legendary sound and the expert way he strikes a balance between the different acoustic levels, his vision underlines the dreamy romanticism that delicately envelops the two concertos by the then-20-year-old Polish composer. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released February 14, 2020 | ECM

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
A sage piano stylist audibly influenced by Basie and Monk among others, Carla Bley has over the past 60 years also become one of jazz's preeminent composers. Originally influenced by '60s jazz avant-garde, Bley, as evidenced by her latest, Life Goes On, has fashioned her own jazz ethos—what ECM's Manfred Eicher has called her "radical originality." In jazz groups of any size longevity is often impossible as the essence of the music is often dependent on the potential of new combinations of talent, and yet a large part of Bley's recent success is keyed by her working trio of bassist/life partner Steve Swallow and saxophonist Andy Sheppard, who've been together for 25 years. Based around three suites—her most preferred form of composition—the lean and spacious Life Goes On is wonderfully confident and distinct. The opening movement of the title track is sly blues before turning to two parts that explore her trademark melodic mingling of classical music discipline and free jazz adventure. It concludes with "And Then One Day," where Bley holds down the rhythm with a repeated figure, over which Sheppard plays jaunty lines that have more than a whiff of Paul Desmond's cool tone. "Beautiful Telephones," based upon the current chief executive's comment about the Oval Office's exceptional phones, begins with Bley downshifting emotionally and exploring a more somber mood with Swallow plucking out his notes and Sheppard's tenor saxophone providing an equally unsettling counterpoint. In this work's final movement, the tempos pick up and her characteristic humor comes to the fore as she wryly quotes "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," "The Star-Spangled Banner," "America the Beautiful," and other patriotic hymns in a modern echo of her '70s composition, "Spangled Banner Minor and Other Patriotic Songs." The final suite, "Copycat" explores the hallowed jazz device of call-and-response as a conversation between three supremely accomplished players, whose clairvoyant togetherness shifts between agreeable and discordant. While it's right to applaud the current rush of praise for the fresh energies that youth are bringing to music these days, the deep wisdom and impeccable craft of a pioneer like Bley deserves to be equally acclaimed. © Robert Baird / Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 3, 2020 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released December 6, 2019 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released November 29, 2019 | La Dolce Volta

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released November 15, 2019 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
One never comes across any ordinariness when following Alexandre Tharaud’s career. This new album is as impressive in the originality of its conception as much as its meticulous musical delivery. The French pianist appears to be nostalgic towards two different golden ages: that of 17th-century music, and that of the French piano during the 1950s, specifically Marcelle Meyer’s inspiring playing which Tharaud remains motivated by. The “Versailles” which has attracted Alexandre Tharaud, and serves as the title for this recital is less Louis XIV’s opulent world of wonder and more of an intimate world of secret music. Without any difficulty, the pianist manages to make these pieces specifically written for the harpsichord his own, even going as far as inviting young harpsichordist Justin Taylor to join him for a rendition of Rameau’s Les Sauvages... for four hands on the piano! If the pianist Marcelle Meyer had recorded Rameau and Couperin in an era more liberal than today, Alexandre Tharaud has the audacity to go against musicological rules for the listener’s benefit. Of course, we are accustomed to Bach, Scarlatti, Couperin and Rameau on the modern piano, but Pancrace Royer, Robert de Visée, Jean-Henry D’Anglebert and Jacques Duphly are suddenly thrust into the limelight of this musical collection which incidentally highlights their relevance. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 8, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica
For several years, the young Franco-Swiss tenor has been gaining a name as a heartthrob on all the great stages of the world. Perhaps thanks to his French origins, he has the perfect diction of a Georges Thill and the vocal power of a Roberto Alagna, with whom he is often compared. On the Helvetian side, Benjamin Bernheim has the class of an Ernst Haefliger or an Éric Tappy, not to mention their modesty and simplicity of style. As part of an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon, he has produced this very successful début album, which presents the roles that he is currently performing in Covent Garden, Zurich, Milan, Vienna, Chicago and Paris. Having won critical acclaim for the quality of his performances, in 2018 Benjamin Bernheim gave French audiences the original 1859 version of Faust by Gounod, at a concert at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, with Christophe Rousset conducting. He bided his time, making no abrupt moves and working on his roles as part of the troupe at the Zürich Opera, preparing his characters patiently, with the fine psychological sense of an actor. The beauty of his natural timbre is married to his perfect diction on this first recital, which alternates between French song (Massenet, Gounod, Godard, Berlioz), Italian opera (Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini) and the Russian repertoire (Lenski's famous aria in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin). This recording was made with the Prague PKF Orchestra, with Emmanuel Villaume conducting – in the generous acoustics of the Smetana Hall – over two sessions in 2017 and 2018. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 8, 2019 | Arcana

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason découverte - Choc de Classica
After rediscovering the music of Giovanni Croce, maestro di cappella at St Mark’s cathedral in Venice, Ensembles Voces Suaves and Concerto Scirocco take us to Salzburg and put the spotlight on the Verona-born composer Stefano Bernardi, a contemporary of Monteverdi. Bernardi reached the peak of his career in Salzburg, when he was appointed the first Kapellmeister of its newly constructed cathedral, a position he held from 1628 to 1634. Bernardi contributed greatly to the integration of the Italian nuovo stile in Salzburg, especially of features such as polychorality and the stile concertato, and may therefore be seen as the musical forefather of later, more famous Salzburg musicians. The outstanding stature of his music is clearly evident from his majestic Requiem, the manuscript of which is still preserved in the Salzburg cathedral archives. Particularly impressive is the Sequentia, which forms the core of the work and opens with an elaborate Dies irae section, based on the famous chant melody. The Requiem, as well as a number of Motets by Bernardi, is recorded here for the very first time. © Arcana
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Solo Piano - Released November 1, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon

Distinctions Choc de Classica
In tribute to the life and art of the Viennese pianist Jörg Demus, who died in April 2019, Eloquence releases his earliest recordings of Schubert’s Impromptus and Moments Musicaux. By the time of these sessions, which took place over a week in April 1958, Demus was not yet 30 but already an experienced recording artist, having made LPs of the duet music for Westminster with his Viennese colleague Paul Badura-Skoda, as well as a Remington Records disc of the Moments musicaux and much else besides, focusing on the Austro-German repertoire of the Classical and early-Romantic eras which would make his reputation. The Deutsche Grammophon engineers captured Demus more lucidly and favourably than their rivals, and in both mono and stereo incarnations these records would stand the test of time, though they have never been reissued as a complete set on CD. Newly remastered from the original tapes, they reveal the depth of Demus’s understanding in Schubert’s music, an unfussy technique and a modesty which never seeks to impose pathos and profundity from without but which dances with a rare lightness of spirit. Born and raised in Vienna, Demus understood this music as a precursor to the popular waltzes and polkas of the Strauss family. ‘Only a complete realization and comprehension of the accompanimental rhythms – precise and yet with a slight touch of a personal accent – will in many cases create the right atmosphere.’ When he died in April 2019, one of the many affectionate Austrian obituaries referred to Demus as ‘the ballet-master of ten fingers’: a description that summed him up perfectly, as these recordings demonstrate. (© Decca Music Group Limited / Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd.)
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Classical - Released October 25, 2019 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Pianist Beatrice Rana made a sensation as a teen with some strikingly charismatic and virtuosic performances. Yet since then, she has taken a deliberate approach to her career, recording only periodically and not trying to be in the limelight at all times. Her approach has borne fruit in this release of works by Ravel and Stravinsky, all of them well-traveled except for the single-piano arrangement of La Valse, which is less often played due to its sheer difficulty. Rana dispatches the final swirls of notes confidently, but listen around elsewhere for the incredible variety of articulation, all of it well-considered and contributing to the greater musical whole, of which this pianist is capable. "Oiseaux tristes" (sample this) is not one of the more often excerpted movements from Ravel's Miroirs, yet Rana's sharp articulation of the distressed bird calls makes the scene come uncannily alive. The two Stravinsky ballet transcriptions have forward motion tempered by shading that suggests the original ballet music in numerous ways. To top it all off, Rana's penetrating insights in the notes, and the fine Teldex Studio sound from Parlophone/Warner Classics, and you have an album that announces Rana's progression from promising young player to one of the most important of major artists. Brava! © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 25, 2019 | Bru Zane

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released October 18, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
This release, issued to mark the 75th birthday of the great pianist Nelson Freire in 2019, is hardly a typical album of encores. A good deal of it is devoted to a single composer, Edvard Grieg. Other composers are represented by multiple works, and there are substantial pieces like the Rachmaninov Prelude in B minor, Op. 32, No. 10, that would not fill the role of encore well. You might take the word "encore" in another way, though: to mean things reprised. Many of these pieces are ones Freire knows well, has played many times, and has explored at a truly breathtaking level of detail. The Grieg Lyric Pieces are not virtuoso works, and indeed are often played by amateurs, but you haven't heard them played like Freire plays them, with each one a little study in phrasing and register. You could sample almost anywhere here, but try the first of the Shostakovich Fantastic Dances, Op. 5, which has an entrancing subtlety from the very first notes. Freire, a famed virtuoso, mostly avoids showpieces here, but, as if to say he hasn't lost the ability, he does drop some in. The album is, then, an encore to Freire's remarkable career, which isn't over yet. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 18, 2019 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
The Second Book of Madrigals of Carlo Gesualdo provides the focal point for the latest in La Compagnia del Madrigale’s stunning reappraisals of the glories of the Italian madrigal on Glossa. Probably written by Gesualdo between the time of the double honour killing of his first wife and her lover and his subsequent remarriage, the second book presents a sophisticated compositional mastery quite in keeping with the later books, albeit offering a calmer and gentler approach compared to the more tortured and twisted musical and psychological turns found in the last books. Notwithstanding, much is required from the singers on the Secondo libro di madrigali a cinque voci and La Compagnia del Madrigale bring their muchpraised sensitivity to the text, balance of ensemble and dynamic control. In the booklet, both Marco Bizzarini and Giuseppe Maletto investigate the state of mind of this fascinating composer, over four centuries since his death. The substantial second part to this recording offers a set of contrasts with Book 2: nine tracks devoted to madrigalists inspired by Gesualdo’s style, from contemporaries in Nenna, Macque and Palazzotto Tagliavia to the later Sigismondo d’India. A veritable bonus! © Glossa