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Classical - Released April 16, 2021 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released February 26, 2021 | Flora

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Buxtehude’s Opus 1 and Opus 2 Sonatas for violin, viola da gamba and harpsichord belie the composer’s common image as austere and sober. They instead delight the listener with what Johann Mattheson, writing in 1739, called their « unfamilar progressions, hidden ornamentation, and ingenious colourations ». It comes as no surprise to learn that the Sonatas were a great success when they were first published in Germany in the 1690s, in the midst of the fashion for the "stylus fantasticus" (described by Athanasius Kircher in 1650 as “…especially suited to instruments. It is the most free and unrestrained method of composing, it is bound to nothing, neither to any words nor to a melodic subject. It was instituted to display genius, and to teach the hidden design of harmony and the ingenious composition of harmonic phrases and fugues"). These Sonatas are undoubtedly challenging, which is no doubt why there have been so few complete recordings. For their fourth album, the founding trio of Les Timbres – Yoko Kawakubo, Myriam Rignol, and Julien Wolfs – take up the challenge with brio, joyously returning to their roots in Baroque chamber music to uncover all the intricacies of these very special works. © Flora
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Chamber Music - Released February 26, 2021 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released February 19, 2021 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Distinctions Diapason d'or
For his new recital published on the Decca label, Benjamin Grosvenor has chosen Franz Liszt, whose music has followed him since his childhood thanks to his grandfather's initiation. Dedicated to the pianistic monument that is the Sonata in B minor, the English pianist's programme aims to bear witness to the various aspects underlying the Hungarian composer's creation with emblematic compositions (Petrarch's Three Sonnets), original ones (Lullaby), as well as the extraordinary power of re-creation that Liszt distilled in his paraphrases; here we find the Reminiscences of Norma after Bellini and his arrangement of Schubert's Ave Maria.Every concert and every recording of Grosvenor's music is long awaited and desired, so rich is his personality and his extraordinary pianistic mastery. His recent album devoted to the Frédéric Chopin Concertos confirmed the pre-eminence of this pianist within a well-to-do brotherhood.His vision of the famous Liszt Sonata is immediately among the most inspired. Like a bird of prey, Grosvenor knows how to wait for the right moment to pounce on the chords with diabolical precision and contained rage, in a dramatic Mephistophelian tension. At the same time, the fluidity of his piano opens the door to the twentieth century and particularly to Ravel's world so dependent on the Liszt lesson. It is known that Brahms had fallen asleep when Liszt played his Sonata to him after a probably drunken dinner. Nothing probable here with this powerful evocation of life and death. Magisterial! © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released February 19, 2021 | Ramée

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Johann Sebastian Bach never intended to compose flute sonatas or partitas in sets of 6 or 12, as was customary at the time (and as he himself did for violin, cello and harpsichord). Bach's flute sonatas evolved over a roughly 30-year period between ca. 1717–1747 as he encountered the different types of flute in fashion at the time, and met several greatly skilled flautists. The question of which flautist and flute makers Bach may have known played a decisive role in choosing the programme on this recording. In preparation, Frank Theuns compared and assessed the playing qualities of various early eighteenth-century flute types. Eventually, he decided on a copy of a flute made by Pierre-Gabriel Buffardin. The balanced, brilliant, Italianate sound of this instrument was a perfect match for the demands of this repertoire. As well as being an unequalled flautist and an accomplished composer, Buffardin was also a renowned flute maker whom Bach may have met in Dresden in 1717. © Ramée
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Classical - Released February 12, 2021 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
To our modern minds, the idea of not holding on tightly to one's own intellectual property is a complete anathema. By the same turn, artistic works that can't be indisputably attributed to a single named creator are mysteries to be solved rather than accepted. However, while plagiarism was beginning to become a concept during the seventeenth century, an artist was still only likely to see it as an important issue if they were planning to publish their works for commercial gain. If not, and if they were part of a collaborative family musical dynasty, it was much less of a thing to get hot under the collar about. Apply that background now to the Bauyn manuscript – one of the most important sources for French 17th century harpsichord music – and you begin to understand how some of the greatest jewels are, rather frustratingly, attributable to a single “Monsieur Couperin”, rather than to one of the three Couperin brothers operating in that period: Louis (1626-1661), François I (1631-1710) and Charles (1638-1679) whose son was the famous François Couperin. Because while these works have mostly been attributed to the one with the most glittering career as a harpsichordist, Louis, more recent research suggests he's not a good match for every piece. Instead, they're more likely to be a mixture of Louis and Charles, with perhaps the odd piece from the slightly less gifted François I. Hence the title of this Couperin-shaped offering from Brice Sailly, recorded in May 2020 at the Château de Mongeroult on a copy of a Tibaut de Toulouse harpsichord. This programme's scholarly contribution lies less in making hard and fast pronouncements on authorship, and more in drawing our attentions to the fact that the programme's pieces are likely to be the work of more than one Couperin; all while employing the numbering given to them in Bruce Gustavson's edition of the Bauyn manuscript. All of which may sound rather academic to the average listener, but it's interesting the extent to which awareness of that context does add to the listening experience. Plus, it's good news when it comes to how it actually sounds. For starters, the overall capturing is lovely, giving us a nice, up-close and natural, but also polished sound. Then Sailly's readings themselves are thoroughly ear-grabbing, with the fluidity of his shapings and the range of his expression. From the gossamer-weighted high-register wistfulness of La Pastourelle, to the dark, sighing beauty of the Pavane in F-sharp minor with its fuller textures, to the bright ceremonial grandeur of La Piétmontoise, this should appeal whether you're new to this repertoire, or simply wishing to hear it with new ears. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Classical - Released February 5, 2021 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
The facts of Carlo Gesualdo's life are perhaps as well known as his music: he caught his wife and her lover in the act, brutally murdered them both, fled her enraged family, and entered a life of seclusion where he pursued increasingly arcane and extreme musical experiments. A source of controversy with the present release may be that Les Arts Florissants director Paul Agnew argues in the booklet that the wildly experimental qualities of the last books of Gesualdo's madrigals, even found in the Book IV pieces included here, actually shouldn't be connected to the murder but were rather in the cards at the end of the long Italian madrigal tradition. Agnew has a certain amount of evidence on his side; other composers such as Luca Marenzio and the melodiously named Luzzasco Luzzaschi pursued the same kinds of innovations as Gesualdo did. Whatever one's position, these are unusually strong Gesualdo performances. What Agnew and his singers do that often eludes others is to pay attention to the texts, avoiding the agonized mannerisms common in the repertory and deploying just a hint of inflection toward speech instead of sung pitch where it's appropriate. The range of dynamics and phrasing is large -- listen to the deliciously quiet "Dolcissimo sospiro" -- and the listener's interest never flags over the substantial program. Les Arts Florissants have performed Gesualdo frequently, and they are well attuned to the tremendous tension in his music, the feeling of having no idea where the music will go next, no matter where that tension may actually have been coming from. If your Gesualdo collection is in need of a refresh from the classic recordings of Stravinsky's day, this is a fine choice; it is also a good place to start with Gesualdo for anybody. © TiVo
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Classical - Released February 5, 2021 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Revered since the height of the Classical era up to the simmering years of the 20th century, the string quartet represented an ideal genre to which composers entrusted their most innovative ideas. The Modigliani Quartet illuminates these brillant masterpieces, each bearing witness to a turning point in the lives of their authors. Brimming with poetry, audacity and a thirst for life, the singular narratives of these quartets herald the advent of new horizons. © Mirare
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Classical - Released February 5, 2021 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Kerson Leong recently participated in the award-winning "Tribute to Ysaÿe" (FUG758). Here is his first solo recital for Alpha. The young Canadian violinist’s career began at the age of thirteen when he won the First Prize of the Junior division of the Menuhin Competition in Oslo in 2010. In 2018 he was named artist-in-residence with the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal. An associate musician at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel, under the mentorship of Augustin Dumay, he has already performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Verbier Festival and Wigmore Hall. The Quebec newspaper Le Devoir, which has followed him since the start of his career, speaks of ‘the purity of intonation, the brilliance of the high notes, the power of the sound... Kerson Leong has remained as brilliant as ever, but he has added a new patina and, deep down inside himself, a new class’. He plays a superb Guarneri del Gesù, on loan from a Canadian patron. Here he tackles a monument of the violin repertory, the Sonatas for Solo Violin of Eugène Ysaÿe: ‘These sonatas are of course a big test . . . The music is highly emotional, pervasive and in some ways also very sombre, which makes it extremely powerful’, says Leong of these six Sonatas, which he frequently plays in their entirety in a single concert. © Alpha Classics
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Classical - Released January 29, 2021 | Les Indispensables de Diapason

Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released January 22, 2021 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
The last instalment of Giovanni Antonini's complete works of Haydn with the ensemble Il Giardino Armonico features three symphonies and La Scena di Berenice sung by Sandrine Piau. We know the story of the symphony “The Farewell", a subtle request from the composer to his prince to grant leave to exhausted musicians in his chapel. In the Finale, a moving Adagio, each musician blows the candles from his desk and leaves on tiptoe until the stage is empty. But this pleasant anecdote too often obscures any analysis of a work full of originality thanks to its rare key (F sharp minor) and the structure of its different movements. While Joseph Haydn sets out a classical framework for the symphony, he simultaneously explodes the schema by means of an architecture which is constantly renewed through a continuous motion from major to minor keys. This is the case of Symphony No. 35 in B-Flat Major which opens this album, constantly oscillating between pure entertainment and drama in a spirit which is totally peculiar to the eighteenth century. This long search for form led Haydn to take sometimes unusual paths, as in this Symphony No. 15 in D Major, which seems to synthesise his research from the late 1750s. The Minuet is for example placed in second position, before an Andante of great simplicity and a final Presto in the form of a rondo. Inspired by Metastasio's Antigone and premiered in London in 1765, la Scena di Berenice is Haydn's greatest dramatic scene outside of his operas. Abandoned by her lover, Bérénice sings her despair and rage through music full of boldness. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 15, 2021 | Ramée

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
‘Music for a while / Shall all your cares beguile’ : in this famous song, Purcell invokes the power of music to soothe – at least temporarily – our pain and suffering. But do we really want to be soothed? Or do we prefer to cultivate our melancholy, in the company of Michel Lambert: ‘No, I sing not to charm away my sadness, but rather to maintain it’? In the St. John Passion, Bach associates the funereal sweetness of the viol with the death of Christ. Like him, many other composers have chosen the instrument to evoke mourning. The pieces recorded on this album form a frame of melancholy music, just as the Japanese character 優(Yuu) expresses the gentleness of ‘a person who stands next to someone who is sad’. Through the vector of these melancholy pieces, the Japanese gambist Kaori Uemura makes her viol sing to maintain, but also to console sadness. © Ramée
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Classical - Released January 15, 2021 | Pan Classics

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Philippe Verdelot played a very important role in the development of the madrigal during the Italian Renaissance. Born in France, he probably moved to Italy at a young age. From 1522 onwards, he held the most important positions in church music in Florence – first he was maestro di capella at the Baptistery of Florence Cathedral, and a year later also at the Cathedral itself. After 1530, with the riots surrounding the expulsion of the Medici family and the siege of the city, all biographical traces are lost, and no works created after these events seem to have survived. In the years before, however, Verdelot had initiated important musical developments with his madrigals, which at that time were the most published in Italy. The Ensemble Profeti della Quinta presents a selection of four-part madrigals from an anthology published posthumously (1540, 1565). A special feature of their performance is that each singer reads from the originally notated single voice – unlike in a modern score with parts notated one above the other. The musicians must therefore listen to each other much more closely and be able to react spontaneously. This spontaneity can be felt throughout the recording, and takes the listener to the beginnings of the Italian madrigal in a very intense way. © Pan Classics
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Chamber Music - Released December 9, 2020 | Alborada

Distinctions Diapason d'or
« These transcriptions take full advantage of the characteristics of the theorbo, the fourteen-string baroque guitar with its deep and full sound which becomes absolutely fascinating and rich with Zapico. While his playing is highly sensitive, he also dares to make the music edgier, sharper and more expressive. So, Zapico delivers 50 minutes of music of gripping intensity and inner power. The always songful pieces, for all their inviting friendliness, are also complex, and are presented in a light that one neither can nor wants to escape. The sound of the recording is equally splendid.» (Pizzicato, January 2021 / Remy Franck)
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Solo Piano - Released December 4, 2020 | Claves Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
« One hot summer day, I headed due south from London and crossed France and Spain on my road bike. Challenging it was, yet beautiful, emotional and colourful all at once — while pedalling thousands of kilometres, the journey brought me closer to my innermost core. Upon my return home, I wished to express all the intense feelings and sensations I experienced on the road in my own way — the language of music. The metamorphosis was already underway when I became aware of the duende and after digging a bit deeper, I immediately sensed that it was this feeling which touched me on my journey, giving me strength and letting me connect with people and their land more profoundly ». « There is a duality at play between the repetition of recording and the spontaneity and unpredictability of duende — and to summon duende, the process had to be as free and fluid as possible: all sessions built up to a final complete ‘recital’-take to capture the spirit of live creation. This was masterfully recorded by Jean-Martial Golaz — a magician of sound who effortlessly played the timeless acoustics of La Salle de Musique, La Chaux-de-Fonds to create a soundscape from another time. We intuitively found the golden balance to bring out the whispers of burning wind to the cries of flamenco from the old Steinway dating back to 1966 — the very same piano on which the great chilean pianist Claudio Arrau recorded Debussy’s Images in 1979. The soul of the piano was both conjured up and tamed by Corinne Wieland — a consummate piano technician. My gratitude goes out to both of them — this team gave me the wings to take off and be free.» Teo Gheorghiu / © Claves Records
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Classical - Released December 4, 2020 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
When deciding on the repertoire for his début recital, James Newby’s first choice fell on An die ferne Geliebte, songs that he had been performing ever since the beginning of his career. But Beethoven’s song cycle – and perhaps even more so the quasi-operatic Adelaide – also sets a tone for the entire programme, that of longing and of wanting to be elsewhere, near the distant beloved. These are emotions that Schubert, perhaps more than any other composer, has plumbed in depth, and Newby went on to select five of his songs that in various ways depict the restlessness and loneliness of the eternal wanderer. Mahler is another composer who knew something about longing – for instance that it can be deadly, which he demonstrated with his Zu Straßburg auf der Schanz, in which a soldier awaits execution after trying to desert to his homeland while the piano imitates the muffled rolling of drums. The military theme continues in the high-strung Revelge, as a young soldier marches towards his death, thinking about his sweetheart with ever-greater desperation. The final song by Mahler, Urlicht, expresses the anguish and pain of earthly life, and the longing for Heaven and, in effect, death. Framing this programme with five folk song arrangements by Benjamin Britten, James Newby and Joseph Middleton explore Man’s never-ending search (geographical or psychological) for that distant object of desire: who, what or wherever it may be. © BIS Records
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Classical - Released December 4, 2020 | Ligia

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Full Operas - Released November 25, 2020 | La discothèque idéale de Diapason

Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released November 25, 2020 | Les Indispensables de Diapason

Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released November 20, 2020 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama
The new album from Pierre Hantaï, who is momentarily moving away from his dear Scarlatti, is a veritable gem! The French harpsichordist opens this masterful recital recorded in January 2020 in Haarlem (Netherlands) by Nicolas Bartholomée's team and dedicated to four suites by Georg Friedrich Haendel through one of the least known, HWV 426, the first issue of Book I of 1720. Immediately, his fingers immerse this eclectic, cosmopolitan world, where neighbouring Italy and France collide seamlessly, in a resplendent sunshine. Once again, the phrasing dazzles as much as the science that the worthy heir of Gustav Leonhardt displays in grasping the diversity of character as he does in painting landscapes in changing light.Here, the Suite in F major, HWV 427 is a miracle. It is a moving, opening Adagio, with an unheard-of melancholy fullness, in which the "art of touching the harpsichord", of singing, of making polyphony shine, is carried high. So much so that the perpetual movement of the Allegro that follows may initially startle you, Pierre Hantaï's metrical regularity is astonishing, even in the more ornate repeats. However, the lines never seem tight, which makes you look at the choreography, undoubtedly reproducing the outlines of an imaginary Gavotte: an unforgettable sensation! The second Adagio is a sort of prelude, before a bugle fugue, not so distant here from the most joyful fugues of J. S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier.The focus of the recital is the spacious and rather sombre Suite in D minor, HWV 428; at first the traditional Präludium, Allemande, Courante, then suddenly, a long Air whose theme is tenderly unfolded, morphing into a strange world of "harmonic" ramblings, as if improvised, launched like rockets by the harpsichordist - a work in its own right!On all levels, an enthralling recital, to be treasured, which will give many people the opportunity to enjoy Handel's Harpsichord Suites once again. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz