Albums

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Full Operas - Released May 2, 2018 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Record of the Month - Diapason d'or / Arte - Le Choix de France Musique
The story of the Pêcheurs de perles [Pearl Fishers] by Bizet is nothing short of torturous: after its first outing in 1863, the score – whose manuscript is now in private hands and no longer available, alas – fell into obscurity, and was only returned to its rightful place in the sun after the composer's death, once Carmen had made his name. Alas – a thousand times, alas – many different theatre directors took themselves for great geniuses and made little amendments to the work, cutting here, adding there, changing bits up to and including the end. Until the 1960s, this calamitously cack-handed version was the one that was performed – this libretto looks a little flat, why not add a few mistakes? – until musicologists stumbled across the original documents, in particular the cut-down version by Bizet himself, as well as the "conductor's score" of the time, which contained many notes about orchestration. This version, put together in 2014 by Hugh MacDonald, is sung by the flower of great French lyrical music – Julie Fuchs, Florian Sempey, Cyrille Dubois and Luc Bertin-Hugault – and returns as closely as possible to the original version of the work, so that the listener will encounter a number of big surprises, and good surprises too: additional numbers, several melodic and dramatic developments: almost a whole new score. © SM/Qobuz
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Opera Extracts - Released March 2, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Diapason d'or / Arte - Qobuzissime - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Nowadays it might seem rather strange to describe a composer as a “singing master”, but, during the eighteenth century, this was not the case at all. In Italy, almost every composer worthy of the name wrote opere serie (Porpora wrote at least forty- ve): serious opera was the dominant musical genre, glorifying the human voice above everything else. It was the maker or breaker of musical reputations, with its nest singers the rst superstars of music. Therefore composers, though generally eclipsed by the fame of their leading men and women, needed to understand the human voice and all its remarkable capabilities, both technical and histrionic, in order to be able to exploit the possibilities of the operatic form at a time when those “machines made for singing”, the castrati, had brought the vocal art to a pitch of perfection never known before, nor equalled since. Though this recording is bringing Porpora’s name to public attention again on the 250th anniversary of his death, his fame as a singing teacher has probably obscured, until recently, his remarkable qualities as a composer, quite simply because two of the most famous castrati were among his many pupils, namely Gaetano Majorano, known as Caffarelli, whom Porpora once called “the nest singer in Europe”, also famed for his amorous antics and arrogance on- and off-stage, and the even more celebrated Carlo Broschi, who, under his stage name of Farinelli, amazed audiences and set hearts a- utter for fteen years throughout Europe, before being called to Spain to heal a crazed King by the power of his voice. Max Cencic remarks: “Porpora was a severe teacher, I think, maybe almost sadistic in his demands — you need 120% control of breath, brain and voice”. Legend indeed has it that he taught Caffarelli one page of exercises, and those alone, for six years. The formal alternation of aria and recitative in opera seria conceals a great range of emotional expression, that varietas that Erasmus famously described as “so powerful in every sphere that there is absolutely nothing, however brilliant, which is not dimmed if not commended by variety”. In such forms as the orid aria di bravura or the lyrical aria di sostenuto, the composer’s fantasy only provided a framework for the singer to embroider: the performer’s skill in ornamentation and other emotional devices was of paramount importance. Porpora’s many years of both teaching and composing experience made him, in Max Cencic’s opinion, “one of the top ten composers of Italian Baroque opera. I chose the arias for this recording almost by instinct, by what ‘felt right’. There is no way one can encompass a composer of such quality in one album, and each piece is a treasure in its own right. Though technical display is everywhere — leaps, rapid scales, trills, long phrases — Porpora’s special and utterly captivating melodic gift always shines through.” The arias are all taken from works composed at the height of Porpora’s fame, from Ezio (Venice 1728; “Se tu la reggi al volo” is a semiquaver spectacular) to Filandro (Dresden 1747, with a ravishing siciliano in “Ove l’erbetta tenera, e molle”), including three of the operas he composed for London during the 1730s, in direct competition with Handel (Arianna in Nasso 1733, Enea nel Lazio 1734 — real reworks here in “Chi vuol salva” — and I genia in Aulide 1735). The Teatro San Carlo in Naples, perhaps the most famous of all opera houses at that time, saw the premiere of Il trionfo di Camilla in 1740, and the two arias recorded here show Porpora at his best: the music of “Va per le vene il sangue” evocatively matches its darkly suggestive text, while “Torcere il corso all’onde” combines rapid- re coloratura with elegance of line. In the three arias from Carlo il Calvo (Teatro delle Dame, Rome 1738) the singer is similarly called to match Porpora’s varietas with his own: from the scurrying oriture of “So che tiranno io sono” to the high-lying phrases of “Se rea ti vuole il cielo”, and the beguilingly hypnotic sostenuto of “Quando s’oscura il cielo”. Porpora’s orchestral writing is also remarkably varied, all the more so in that he generally uses only strings, nowhere better than in the elaborate lines of “Torbido intorno al core” from Meride e Selinunte (Venice 1726), where voice and violins entwine in an elaborate and emotionally suggestive web of divisions. However, sometimes he pulls out all the sonority stops, as in the martial “Destrier, che all’armi usato” where, at the rst performance in the Teatro Regio, Turin in 1731 trumpets and horns vied with the unmatchable power of the voice of Farinelli. As Max Cencic has said: “How can we emulate the great castrati? That is hard to pin down, but these voices were the very soul of Porpora’s music.” -Nicholas Clapton © 2018 – Decca Group Limited
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released February 16, 2018 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte
The cantata Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe (Jesus gathered the twelve to Himself) BWV 22, holds a historic place in Bach’s work. Indeed he composed it while still in Köthen, as an audition piece for the position of Thomaskantor in Leipzig, and then conducted it on February 7th, 1723, maybe even singing the bass part himself. Famously the city council, unable to convince its preferred composers – Telemann, Graupner and two others –, decided to settle with “mediocre” Bach… The gospel of the day first announces his death and his resurrection by Christ and his disciplines. A modest orchestra: voices, strings, one oboe and continuo, but the musical content is – like in almost all of Bach’s cantatas – amongst the best he’s ever written. For the same celebration, Bach composed a new cantata the following year, Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott (Lord Jesus Christ, true Man and God) BWV 127. But it has almost nothing in common with the previous piece: here Bach offers a very impressive reflection on physical death. Throughout his cantatas he called for a blessed death to free himself from the vicissitudes of life on Earth, but this now reveals how much he may have feared physical death itself. The aria ”Die Seele ruht” is one of these sublime moments suspended in time, an ineffable tintinnabulum, in which the soprano and the oboe dialogue on a harrowing theme while the flutes and string pizzicatos symbolise the passing of time with incredible beauty. Finally it’s with Die Elenden sollen essen (The miserable shall eat) BWV 75 that Bach started off his work in Leipzig, in St. Nicholas Church this time, as the cantatas were alternately performed in both churches. Probably because he wanted to start with a bang, he designed this cantata on a huge scale: fourteen numbers, divided in two parts. Of course Bach would have never been able to produce such vast and powerful partitions on a weekly basis, but there is a real substance to this Passion… and it’s with great passion that Philippe Pierlot, his Ricercar Consort and the soloists perform these masterpieces. © SM/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released October 27, 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Record of the Month - Diapason d'or / Arte - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
An album, a symphony: you would think that we had returned to the days of the Long Play, and the era of Mravinsky, Doráti, Markevitch, Karajan as well as many other performers and interpreters who have marked the discographic history of the last symphony from Piotr Ilitch Tchaikovsky. The album cover also seems to confirm it: it brings to mind the old RCA covers from the 50s and 60s. Sony Classical, being very supportive of the artistic endeavours of the Greco-Russian master, didn't hesitate to bring out a roughly 45-minute album - they had done better with the Rites of Spring (2015), which was feted in the press. Here, Teodor Currentzis continues his exploration of Tchaikovsky's world, with the Pathétique, putting the accent on the dynamic contrasts, sometimes naturally, sometimes by technical means (adagio lamentoso), and bringing to bear some methods that are normally specific to pop music. He exploits the sombre tone of the work, even above its rhythmic energy, and looks to create atmospheres that one could often call morbid. For record-lovers, this release is a great opportunity to revisit his discography, and for all other ardent Qobuz users it is an opportunity to rediscover this true emblem of the orchestral repertoire. © TG/Qobuz
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Trios - Released September 15, 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
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Opera - Released September 15, 2017 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
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Secular Vocal Music - Released June 9, 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Diapason d'or / Arte
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released May 5, 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - Diapason d'or / Arte - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Antonín Dvorák's Stabat Mater, Op. 58, truly merits the adjective "tragic"; it was written after the deaths of two of the composer's children in succession, and his grief rolled out in great, Verdian waves. There are several strong recordings on the market, including an earlier one by conductor Jiří Bělohlávek himself, but for the combination of deep feeling, technical mastery from musicians and singers who have spent their lives getting to know the score, and soloists who not only sound beautiful but are seamlessly integrated into the flow, this Decca release may be the king of them all. To what extent was the strength of the performance motivated by Bělohlávek's likely fatal illness (he died days after the album entered the top levels of classical charts in the spring of 2017)? It's hard to say, although he also delivered top-notch performances of Dvorák's Requiem in his last days. The members of the Prague Philharmonic Choir sing their hearts out in the gigantic, shattering opening chorus, which has rarely if ever had such a mixture of the impassioned and the perfectly controlled. Sample the chorus "Virgo virginium praeclara" to hear the magically suspended quality Bělohlávek brings out of the singers in lightly accompanied passages. The soloists, soprano Eri Nakamura, mezzo Elisabeth Kulman, tenor Michael Spyres, and bass Jongmin Park -- an international group in this otherwise almost all-Czech production -- are uniformly strong, but what stands out most is how inevitable their entrances sound. If this turns out to be Bělohlávek's swan song, it is an accomplishment for the ages. Highest possible recommendation.
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Classical - Released April 7, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte - 4 étoiles de Classica
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Secular Vocal Music - Released April 7, 2017 | naïve classique

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Diapason d'or / Arte - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année
2017 marks the 450th anniversary of Claudio Monteverdi, one of the fathers of modern music, who gave a major impulse to expressivity and individuality of expression. Rinaldo Alessandrini’s benchmark recordings of the madrigals, the Vespers, L'Orfeo etc., contributed to unani-mously establish the Roman conductor and his ensemble Concerto Italiano as the leading ambassadors of Monteverdi today. "Notte. Storie di Amanti e di Guerrieri" offers a selection of highlights from Monteverdi’s most famous madrigals and instrumental movements: Lamento della ninfa, Combat-timento di Tancredi e Clorinda, Ho’r che’l ciel e la terra, sinfonias from Monteverdi’s three operas etc. A heart-stretching pro-gram in which Rinaldo Alessandrini’s sci-ence of light, emotions and colors is at its highest.
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Classical - Released January 27, 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte - 4 étoiles de Classica
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Classical - Released November 1, 2016 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte - Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released October 16, 2015 | Naive

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte - 4 étoiles de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Described by the prestigious British music magazine Gramophone as ‘the most innovative and transcendent interpreter of all’ for his work in Rachmaninov and Prokofiev, as well as being capable of a grand refinement and a ‘crystalline beauty’ (The Financial Times) in Mozart and Schubert, Nikolai Luganski is an extraordinarily deep and versatile pianist. His CD recital of sonatas for piano by Rachmaninov won him a Diapason d’or and an ECHO Klassik prize, whilst his recording of the concertos of Grieg and Prokofiev was awarded an ‘Editors Choice’ by Gramophone. His previous recordings were also greeted with many awards, including a second Diapason d’or, the BBC Music Magazine Award, and a prize from ECHO Klassik. Here, he performs one of the ultimate Schubert sonatas, the incredible and titanic Sonata in C minor, which was written in the summer of 1828, a few months before the death of the composer. We hear – and Luganski emphasizes – the resonant impact of the last sonatas by Beethoven, by which Schubert was so fed and freed. The symphonic dimensions of this sonatas require an interpreter with strong shoulders, therefore: enter Luganski. Shortly before this work, Schubert composed his second collection, Impromptus, which hit somewhere between poetry and sombre savagery, as the Russian interpreter endorses here.
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Classical - Released September 9, 2016 | SWR Classic

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
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Classical - Released September 2, 2016 | Deutsche Grammophon Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or / Arte - 4 étoiles de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Keyboard Concertos - Released August 26, 2016 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte - Le Choix de France Musique - 4 étoiles de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Classical - Released November 6, 2015 | SWR Classic

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte - Choc de Classica
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Opera Extracts - Released January 1, 2007 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions Choc du Monde de la Musique - Diapason d'or / Arte - RTL d'Or - Diamant d'Opéra Magazine
In this tribute to the great nineteenth century mezzo-soprano, Maria Malibran, Cecilia Bartoli sings selections from the repertoire for which Malibran was known. Malibran also ventured into soprano roles, and Bartoli bravely and entirely successfully follows her into that territory. In fact, the primary impression the CD creates is astonishment and awe at the extraordinary range of these selections, and Bartoli's ease, absolute security, and seamless delivery, from above the treble staff to the middle of the bass staff. Hummel's Air à la Tirolienne avec variations may not be a musical masterpiece, but as a showcase for Bartoli's range, dizzying coloratura, and yodeling ability, it is breathtaking. The collection is made up of much music written especially for Malibran, and besides giving Bartoli a chance to dazzle, the pieces are irrefutable testimony to how remarkable an artist Malibran must have been. Some of the most striking pieces are the recitative and aria from her father's opera La Figlia dell'aria, a concert scena and aria by Mendelssohn, and a song by Malibran herself, which requires both a command of extended vocal techniques and a sense of humor, and Bartoli brings it off with panache. One of the strengths of the collection is its inclusion of so much repertoire that's virtually unknown today. Only three excerpts from Bellini operas and one by Rossini are likely to be familiar to most opera lovers. Bartoli's "Casta Diva" is a marvel of purity, restraint, and emotional vulnerability, and is by itself worth the price of the album. Adam Fischer conducts Orchestra La Scintilla in lively accompaniments to Bartoli's vibrant and supple performances. The CD should be of strong interest to any fans of early nineteenth century coloratura repertoire.
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Opera - Released October 2, 2015 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - 4F de Télérama - Diapason d'or / Arte - Choc de Classica
Three challenging roles expertly personified by three major singers from the new generation, which some have heralded as the operatic events of the year. Jonas Kaufmann performs his first Radames, Anja Harteros her first Aida, Ludovic Tézier his first Amonasro – and under such dreamy conditions. A real studio recording, not hastily dispatched in a few general sessions, but rather resulting from a long work process which was preceded by a series of presentations in concert version. This work will also highlight the excellent reprisal of Amneris by Ekaterina Semenchuk, who has already played this role on numerous occasions. Pappano affords the stars of the Orchestre de l’Académie Sainte-Cécile in Rome the perfect acoustics of the Parco della Musica de Renzo Piano auditorium. The stars have aligned, even within the music! This new version of Aida is without doubt one of the finest in the work’s discography. The singers go to great lengths to avoid ‘overdoing’ it, which is without doubt due to the complicity of Pappano, who has always been known for his affinity for going back to basics. © Qobuz THE CAST : Anja Harteros (Aida), soprano Jonas Kaufmann (Radames), tenor Ekaterina Semenchuk (Amneris), mezzo-soprano Ludovic Tézier (Amonasro), baritone Erwin Schrott (Ramfis), baritone-basse Marco Spotti (Der King of Egypt), bass Paolo Fanale (The Messenger), tenor Eleonora Buratto (The Priestess), soprano Orchestra e Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (ligne en plus petit) Antonio Pappano, conductor
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Chamber Music - Released January 12, 2015 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte - 4 étoiles de Classica
Ever practical in his methods, Paul Hindemith composed over 30 sonatas for various instruments, which, in addition to his theoretical concerns, reflected a utilitarian aspect of his work, even though they weren't intended as Gebrauchsmusik. This 2015 album from Harmonia Mundi offers five sonatas, composed between 1935 and 1948, which have become standard repertoire for students and are usually heard in recitals, though much less frequently on commercial recordings. The sonatas for alto horn, violoncello, trombone, violin, and trumpet make a balanced program, and the consistency of Hindemith's chromatic yet tonal music makes the album approachable, even though the pieces at times may seem a little dry and cerebral. Alto hornist Teunis van der Zwart, cellist Alexander Rudin, trombonist Gérard Costes, violinist Isabelle Faust, and trumpeter Jeroen Berwaerts are the featured artists and they are extremely polished in their playing, while virtuoso pianist Alexander Melnikov provides something greater than mere accompaniment in these energetic and expressive performances. The reproduction is focused and noise-free, so every detail of this highly contrapuntal music is fully audible.