Albums

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Classical - Released March 19, 2007 | Aeolus

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique
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Chamber Music - Released March 23, 2018 | CPO

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
French music has often been enriched by musicians from abroad who have breathed new life into national styles, like the Florentine Jean-Baptiste Lully (Giovanni-Battista Lulli, in fact) who invented musical tragedy, the grand motet or the French overture; or indeed César Franck, the Liégeois to whom France owes the renewal of the symphony and of chamber music, and who fostered a whole school of young French musicians. César Franck's String Quartet in D Major, one of his last works, is the first great string quartet of the modern French school, and it opened the way for Debussy and Ravel. First performed in 1890 to a very enthusiastic reception at the Société Nationale de Musique, today it is somewhat overlooked by quartet musicians, although no-one can really say why, because it is a strong piece which fits very well as part of the repertoire. Specialising in the Russian repertoire (Shostakovitch, Weinberg) and having performed the débuts of several contemporary works (Greif, Mantovani and Rihm) the Danel Quartet has worked with the Amadeus and Borodin Quartets. Thanks to a very colourful expressive range, and deeply subtle nuances, the musicians of the quartet are able to find here both the elegiac and the tragic within Franck's two works. On the famous Quintet in F Minor, which is more often recorded, Finnish pianist Paavali Jumppanen melds perfectly into the ensemble, as part of a very rewarding dialogue. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Duets - Released March 23, 2018 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
I present to you the violinist of the Chung family (actually, perhaps "dynasty" would be more precise). Born in 1948, Kyung-wha Chung's career started with a bang at the age of just ten. His youth proved no obstacle to starting his studies at the Juilliard school, but child-prodigy status carries with it a great risk: that of remaining a child. Chung dodged this particular error, and his adult career has blossomed on the world stage. Here he takes up the Franco-Belgian repertoire of Fauré and Franck: the former's First Sonata and the latter's sole Sonata are plainly the pillars of the album. Franck gave his to the world in 1886, but in fact Fauré's came first by a long way: it dates from 1876! And so the first of Fauré and the mature Franck confront each other on this record: both sharing the radiant tones of A major (on violin, the keys are much more clearly differentiated than they are on, say piano: some are much more striking, for technical reasons whose explanation can get a bit... technical); both are structured in four movements, but whereas one speaks of youth and fervour – in rather fashionable accents, too, perhaps – Franck's music shows a mellowing with age, broad, cyclical construction, and a precise way of giving each instrument an equal share weight in the discourse. Chung and pianist Kevin Kenner round off the programme with a few treats from the two composers, as well as a little Debussy and Elgar's Salut d'amour, which he wrote for his fiancée as an engagement present. © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released March 9, 2018 | HORTUS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released March 5, 2018 | Passacaille

Hi-Res Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released March 2, 2018 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Giulia Frasi is best known to posterity for having given the first performances of the principal soprano parts in Handel’s last oratorios – all of them containing vivid scenes of sentimental and spiritual drama that depict suffering women reacting to extremely distressing events with courage, dignity, and selflessness. This album explores her speciality: playing characters whose emotional journeys are charted with affecting pathos. However, the thirty-one-year career that Frasi enjoyed in London was broader, more complicated, and richer than being merely Handel’s last prima donna. Retracing her music making in different environments – not only operas and oratorio concerts in theatres but also music in numerous other contexts – reveals a perfect microcosm of the cultural and stylistic diversity of musical life in mid-eighteenth-century Britain. It is a story that has seldom been told, and has never before been presented through a cross-section of Frasi’s musical repertoire. Reputedly trained in Milan and having made her operatic debutin Italy, Frasi came to Britain to join Lord Middlesex’s Italian opera company in 1742 – not long after Handel had decided to stop composing and performing operas on the London stage. Initially allocated minor roles but gradually rising in importance to the company, Frasi participated in at least fourteen opera seasons at the King’s Theatre on the Haymarket between November 1742 and 1761. Her early London appearances in 1743 prompted this recollection by Charles Burney in his General History of Music: Giulia ‘Frasi was at this time young, and interesting in person, with a sweet and clear voice, and a smooth and chaste style of singing, which, though, cold and unimpassioned, pleased natural ears, and escaped the censure of critics.’ Burney praised the fact that, having come to this country at an early period of her life, ‘she pronounced our language in singing in a more articulate and intelligible manner than the natives.’ It seems that Handel’s attention was attracted by her determination to sing articulately in English – which coincided with her increasing usefulness to the topsy-turvy Italian opera company – and an emerging knack for conveying musical pathos. Soprano Ruby Hughes, who has chosen a large variety of works, not only by Haendel but also from all of Frasi’s London repertoire, from Arne to Smith, won first Prize and the Audience Prize at the 2009 London Handel Singing Competition, and is also a former BBC New Generation Artist. She made her debut at Theater an der Wien with René Jacobs, She has sung major roles at the Buxton International Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, London Handel Festival, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Musikfestspiele Potsdam, and Schwetzinger Festspiele, as well as at English National Opera, Garsington Opera, Scottish Opera among so many others. © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released February 23, 2018 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
any recordings have of course been made of François Couperin’s music; this project does not, therefore, aim to provide the discography with yet another version of one or another group of his works. Harpsichordist Brice Sailly has gone through Couperin’s chamber music, his little-known airs de cour and several other of his harpsichord works; here he offers us a poetic journey through an imaginary Arcadia where various characters stroll about, fall in love, and become estranged again. These are the same characters that populate the literature that inspired both Italian madrigals and the “air français”: they are generally shepherds and shepherdesses and bear such names as Tirsis, Zéphire, Silvie, Phillis and Iris. The handful of vocal works by Couperin here recorded by soprano Emmanuelle de Negri were published under the name of Airs sérieux or Airs à boire and appeared in compilations of works by various composers during the first years of the 18th century; they can therefore still be dated from the reign of Louis XIV. The several instrumental pieces that punctuate the vocal works in this programme have been taken from the Concerts royaux and the Nations. Two dances of folk origin, a Gavotte for oboe and bassoon and the Forlane for violin and viola from the Quatrième Concert royal provide a clear depiction of the pastoral theme. Brice Sailly plays on a modern copy of a cembalo by Antoine Vatter, French by adoption but German by birth, who did not forget his origins and his germanic culture. He constructed a harpsichord in 1732 – currently on view in the Musée de la Musique in Paris – in which he recalled the polyphonic roots of the instruments of his childhood in Hanover and recast these memories into the French aesthetic of the time. The harpsichord has been tuned according to the requirements of the French Tempéraments ordinaires: these contain chords that have preserved a few pure thirds inherited from mesotonic tuning, whilst making other adaptations to correct notes that would otherwise be too false in some slightly unusual tonalities. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released February 16, 2018 | HORTUS

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released February 9, 2018 | Tempéraments - Radio France

Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Symphonic Music - Released February 9, 2018 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
‘Travel’ and ‘journey’ are often appropriate metaphors for the music of the Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür (b. 1959). The composer himself describes his viola concerto Illuminatio as a “pilgrimage towards eternal light”, and with his Symphony No. 8 he stresses the importance of a “constant sense of ‘being on the road’”. This says something essential about the dynamics, growth and development of his music. To take a broader view, Tüür’s entire career may be described as a journey: in the course of his professional life beginning in the 1980s, he has thoroughly revised and reformed his idiom and compositional precepts. His ambitious journey began in rock music while at the same time he was studying flute, percussion and composition at the Conservatory. Since 1992 he has been a freelance composer. In his early career, Tüür developed a ‘polystylistic’ approach that combined minimalist and tonal elements on the one hand, modernist features on the other, into an idiom where he juxtaposed elements from different and seemingly incompatible styles, seeking both contrasts and syntheses. In the early 2000s, he went through a transition that resulted in his new composition technique. Here, “the entire composition is encapsulated in a source code – a gene which, as it mutates and grows, connects the dots in the fabric of the whole work”. All the works on the present album are from this period. The core of Tüür’s output consists of extensive orchestral works (including nine symphonies and several concertos), chamber music and vocal works. Whereas the viola concerto can be compared to a journey, Whistles and Whispers from Uluru (2007) for recorder and chamber orchestra was inspired by a landscape and a sonority. The piece was written to a commission from the Australian Chamber Orchestra for recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey, who also plays on this album – several different recorders, from sopranino to bass. Some sonorities are enhanced by electronic means. When a composer has written nine symphonies, the genre is obviosuly very important for him. In the case of Tüür, the term ‘symphonic’ must be understood in a broad sense – not as a strict formal scheme, but rather as a uniquely shaped and independently formed structure in each work. Tüür’s symphonies form the hard core of his output, spanning the length of his career, the first dating from 1984 and the latest from 2017. The symphonies vary greatly in terms of form, ensemble and idiom. Symphony No. 8 was commissioned by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and was completed in 2010. Considering the resources of the commissioning party, Tüür scored the work for a sinfonietta-type ensemble instead of a large symphony orchestra, and as a result the music has at times a chamber music feel. © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released February 2, 2018 | Timpani

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released February 2, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
In addition to Prokofiev’s two violin concertos – whose ample discography is brilliantly enriched by this interpretation of Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili and the excellent conductor Yannick Nézet-Seguin –, the album also features three treats from Prokofiev arranged by Tamás Batiashvili, the father of the aforementioned Lisa and a renowned teacher in his country. These are rewritings for solo violin and orchestra of the Dance Of The Knights from Romeo and Juliet, the Grand Waltz from Cinderella and the nefarious and quirky Grand March from The Love For Three Oranges. Batiashvili – the father – streamlines the message, allowing the solo violin to showcase its full power in moments that were bloated in the original partition, particularly in the rather bulky Dance Of The Knights which, losing some of its imposing weight, gained lyricism in return. As for the two concertos, they benefit greatly from the reasonably sized Chamber Orchestra of Europe, as it perfectly lets Prokofiev’s writing shine through. © SM/Qobuz
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Keyboard Concertos - Released February 2, 2018 | LPO

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Symphonic Music - Released February 2, 2018 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
No, no: we would never suggest that the music of the Swedish composer Dag Wirén (1905-1986) was in the slightest bit avant-garde. On the contrary, he always strove to write music which, while certainly novel, made for pleasant listening, without either dogma, or pedagogy, or a particular method. His oeuvre, more remarkable for its quality than its quantity, contains five symphonies, of which the Third from 1944 is presented here, and above all the renowned Divertimento for strings from 1957, in which one can discern the legacy of Grieg or Dvořák just as much as Honegger, whom Wirén venerated, or other musicians from the Group of Six; or indeed Shostakovitch in his more wily moments. The writing shares more than a few family resemblances with Jean Françaix, in its impeccable harmonic, thematic and architectural conceptions, all while retaining its light and transparent spirit. During his lifetime, his rejection of the avant-garde was a black mark against his name; but thirty years on from his death, this kind of consideration is no longer relevant. We can finally rediscover Wirén for what he is: an excellent composer. To cut a long story short, it was he who wrote the score to Absent Friend which was Sweden's entry for the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest – which was won by France Gall, under the flag of Luxembourg, and not of France, as it happens – Absent Friend was neither strictly pop, nor variety, but a piece of pure classical romance, a tragic waltz sung by a truly great operatic baritone, Ingvar Wixell, accompanied by an exclusively classical orchestra, without drums or anything of the sort! © SM/Qobuz
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Quartets - Released January 26, 2018 | La Dolce Volta

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
Two years after its very well received recording of three Schumann quartets, Quatuor Hermès – created about ten years ago – is turning its attention to three staple French masterpieces: Ravel and Debussy’s quartets (two iconic figures of their − relatively young − generation who have been coupled on disc again and again, but who would complain?) surrounding Dutilleux’s quartet Ainsi la nuit (Thus the Night). Three very unique quartets, as each of their composers only wrote a single one. For the record, Debussy’s quartet still belongs to the 19th century as it was composed in 1893 in a language formally borrowing from Franck (even if the chord progressions already feel like classic Debussy), while Ravel’s inaugurates the 20th century in 1903 with Faurean notes in abundance… On the other hand, Dutilleux waited to achieve maturity (1976) to write his. An inescapable monument of 20th French chamber repertoire, played with finesse and transparency by Quatuor Hermès, cementing their place among the elite quartets of our time. © SM/Qobuz
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Solo Piano - Released January 26, 2018 | NoMadMusic

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released January 26, 2018 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Keyboard Concertos - Released January 26, 2018 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Boris Berezovsky is one of these indomitable pianists who won’t restrict themselves to a set script, but rather let their instinct guide them. So plastic perfection is not the motto here. As shown by this new recording with one of the best Russian ensembles, the Svetlanov Symphony Orchestra. The concert’s programme, recorded live on April 8th, 2017, is very rich, combining Brahms’ Piano Concert No. 1 – with dimensions much more symphonic than simple concertantes – with a rarely performed partition: Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments. Berezovsky rightly assumes that live recordings are much more exciting than in the studio. Concerts taping, despite their inherent flaws – false notes, blunders, coughing, etc. − mirror life itself and manage to capture the energy flows between the stage and the audience. The pianist doesn’t confine himself to playing his instrument: in fact, he’s also conducting from the piano! “I wanted to approach works for piano and orchestra as if they were chamber music on a large scale; these two works share this chamber quality” he explains. A rather monumental experience for a most intriguing musical result. © SM/Qobuz
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Duets - Released January 19, 2018 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
No-one could think that Edgar Moreau and David Kadouch had an easy job in selecting the programme for this album, which begins with the expansive and impressive Grand Dramatic Sonata (Grande sonate dramatique) "Titus et Bérénice", by Rita Strohl (1865-1941), a pseudonym of Aimée Marie Marguerite Mercédès Larousse La Villette, a French composer of the same vein as Franck or Saint-Saëns. Rita Strohl has gone down in history as an astounding character: she had the idea of creating a kind of French Bayreuth, La Grange, in Bièvres (!) with the support of Odilon Redon and a number of other artists of the day; it was done in aid of performing Rita's operas - monumental works, more than a match for any of the most colossal excesses of Scriabin: a Christian cycle, a Celtic cycle lasting five days, a Hindu cycle in seven. The sheer size of these projects was overwhelming, to say nothing of other troubles such as the start of the First World War and other personal troubles of Strohl's. All the same, this Sonata reveals in Strohl a figure bursting with talents and ideas, which Moreau and Kadouch bring to life with unstinting devotion. Poulenc's little-performed Sonata for Cello and Piano follows: a delicious taste of Poulenc's "light" output, which almost classes as salon music. The other great moment on the album is Franck's Sonata, as re-written by Jules Desart during the composer's lifetime. The album also offers a little rarity from Fernand de La Tombelle, one of the founding members of the Schola Cantorum, whose score relates to the work of Reynaldo Hahn. This ample album closes with a world-first Poulenc recording (such a thing is still possible!), Souvenirs. It is well-named: the piano part appears to recall (or prefigure) the dramas of Dialogues, while the cello, which only intervenes occasionally, shows off Poulenc's salon voice! © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released January 19, 2018 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
The Neapolitan Baroque, especially in the first half of the eighteenth century, was a vibrant and vital time for instrumental music, as Josetxu Obregón and La Ritirata now demonstrate with their new recording of six concertos from that era. The Neapolitan school – which owed so much in its formation to Francesco Provenzale – flourished in the hands of Francesco Mancini, Nicola Porpora, Nicola Fiorenza, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi and Alessandro Scarlatti, all represented with concertos on this new Glossa recording. The four major conservatories in the city created an astonishingly productive and innovative environment for musicians – students and their teachers alike. The composers here all studied or worked in the conservatories or at the Cappella Real. The Neapolitan concerto had its own structure at this time, which was quite different to that found in the Venice of Vivaldi, and there was a constant competitive spirit for soloists to demonstrate their virtuosity. As they showed with their earlier Glossa recording of Il Spiritillo Brando, the members of La Ritirata are more than a match for their Neapolitan predecessors in both stylishness and technique. The soloists gathered by Josetxu Obregón represent some of the leading musical lights in Spain today: violinist Hiro Kurosaki (in a Fiorenza concerto), recorder-player Tamar Lalo (Scarlatti and Mancini), harpsichordists Ignacio Prego and Daniel Oyarzabal (Pergolesi) and not least, Obregón himself who is the cello soloist in works by Fiorenza and Porpora.© Glossa