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Musique de chambre - Released April 30, 2021 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Diapason d'or / Arte
Constantly shifting from the most impulsive exuberance to the most restrained meditation, from the most intense passion to the most innocent tenderness, this programme forms a representative panorama of Schumann’s chamber music. Going beyond the Piano Trios, which already give us a fully rounded account of Schumann, the Trio Wanderer have invited their favourite partners to join them for their interpretation of two supreme masterpieces, the Piano Quartet and Piano Quintet. © harmonia mundi
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Classique - Released February 19, 2021 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
A true ‘apotheosis of the dance’ in the words of Richard Wagner, Beethoven’s Seventh has enjoyed perennial popularity ever since its premiere - unlike his sole ballet, The Creatures of Prometheus, of which only the overture has remained (more or less) familiar to us. To offer a new version of a key work in Beethoven’s corpus while reviving the complete version of one of his most unjustly forgotten masterpieces: such is the challenge brilliantly taken up by the musicians of the Freiburger Barockorchester, under the direction of their Konzertmeister Gottfried von der Goltz. © harmonia mundi
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Classique - Released February 5, 2021 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
It was time for Ludovic Tézier to finally provide his admirers with a recital. His performances as a Verdian baritone are impressive: Rigoletto, Simon Boccanegra, Falstaff, Giorgio Germont (La Traviata), Posa (Don Carlo), Le Conte De Luna (Il Trovatore), Renato (Un ballo in maschera), Iago (Otello). And almost all of these are reprised in this solo album. To this impressive list of stage roles, Tézier brings the welcome addition of arias from Ernani, Macbeth and Nabucco all accompanied by Frédéric Chaslin at the head of the orchestra of the Teatro Comunale in Bologna. It was in 1998 in Tel Aviv that the French baritone played his first Verdian role. He was thirty years old when he was Ford in a production of Falstaff. "There is an absolutely fascinating energy in Verdi, both for the audience and for the singers", he admits. "His roles are usually very challenging, but his music acts at the same time as a fountain of youth. Verdi is brimming with vitality, which is what allowed me to return to the stage just two days after my father's death". Now with a fully-matured voice, Ludovic Tézier is in demand all over the world for his Verdi roles. He is one of the best performers of Verdi's work, standing alongside the late Piero Cappuccilli who remains his great role model. This record offers timely confirmation of his stature. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classique - Released November 6, 2020 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
When there is so much to love about Bohuslav Martinů's two Violin Concertos, it's surprising that we hear so little of them from the top artists of today. So the first thing to say here is simply that it's very good news indeed to have the pair now being championed on BIS by the likes of Frank Peter Zimmermann and acclaimed Martinů interpreter Jakub Hrůša. Then, the further good news is that what they've produced is every bit as good one would have hoped. Concerto No. 2 opens the programme. Written in 1943 for Mischa Elman, and premiered the same year, it was swiftly taken up by other violinists of the period, who were no doubt instantly beguiled by its romance and lyricism, and its by strong Czech folk echoes. Here, the Bamberger Symphoniker's opening orchestral tutti fabulously sets the tone: full, wide and trembling; glossily rich and rhythmically sharp, followed by Zimmermann himself displaying all his usual polish and precision (the silkiest of double-stops), while occasionally spicing his sweetly silvery and singing tone with just the right dose of folk edge. The central Andante doesn't hang around — it's a good 2'20” faster than Isabelle Faust's exquisite reading on harmonia mundi — but the overriding impression is simply one of airy movement, with an infectious sense of carefree pastoral joy from everyone. The third movement is then nothing short of a joyride, and indeed one over which it's often the high-octane orchestra that shines most brightly, for its technical pizazz, and chameleon-like reinventions over the score's constantly shifting shapes, colours and moods. Next comes Concerto No. 1, and if ever a concerto were a wronged Cinderella then it's this one. Penned in 1931 while Martinů was living in Paris, it's again alive with Czech folk inflections, but this time sitting within a neoclassical language no doubt inspired by his fellow Paris-based émigré, Stravinsky. It was also written for the dedicatee of Stravinsky's own Violin Concerto of 1931, Samuel Dushkin. However, unlike with Stravinsky, Dushkin refused to play ball with Martinů — demanding successive revisions, delaying performing it, and refusing other violinists to premiere it in his place, until eventually the work was put to one side. The manuscript was eventually rediscovered in 1968, nine years after Martinů's death, and premiered in 1973 by Josef Suk. It's hard to know for sure whether the violin part's virtuosities were more a result of Dushkin's penchant for display, or of Martinů flexing his own violinistic muscles (it was as a violinist that he first entered the Prague Conservatory). Either way, Zimmermann dispatches its fiendish acrobatics with vim-filled perfection, matched over every hop, skip and jump by the crisply fleet-footed and exuberant orchestra. Frankly, all the above would be enough to sell this recording. However Zimmermann then also gifts us with a compellingly impassioned reading of Bartók's Hungarian folk and Bach-influenced Sonata for Solo Violin of 1944. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Classique - Released October 30, 2020 | Indésens

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
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Classique - Released October 9, 2020 | harmonia mundi

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
Known for her brilliant work in Mozart’s roles, the German soprano Christiane Karg also excels in Puccini (Musetta in La Bohème), Richard Strauss (Zdenka in Arabella) and even in the title role of Claude Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. This “Erinnerung” (Memory) recital is dedicated to a selection of Lieder by Gustav Mahler, drawn largely from his vast collection of popular songs from the Knaben Wunderhorn, some early compositions, and the Rückert-Lieder - one of the composer’s most accomplished cycles.On piano, his long-standing partner Malcom Martineau is an ideal match. He wonderfully modulates his sound to match the singer’s every intention. The final two pieces in this recording are unusual for the fact that he hands the piano over to the composer himself! Gustav Mahler has indeed “recorded” his compositions (such as Ich ging mit Lust and the famous Das himmlische Leben which closes Symphony No. 4) on perforated card for a Welte-Mignon system.Approached on a modern keyboard, the Welte-Mignon’s automatic articulated fingers reproduce Mahler’s tempo, intentions and, to some extent, touch. It’s obviously not a perfect replication, but Christiane Karg’s considerable effort to follow his tortuous rhythm is tremendously moving. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classique - Released October 2, 2020 | ECM New Series

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
Two great artists, pianist Sir Andras Schiff and composer/clarinettist Jorg Widmann, join forces for the first time on record, performing Brahms's late masterpieces, the Clarinet Sonatas Op. 120, written in 1894. In between the sonatas Schiff plays Widmann's evocative Intermezzi for piano which he composed especially for Schiff making this new recording the premiere. As Jörg Widmann explains in a programme note, these are works inspired by his friendship with Andras Schiff and by a shared love of Brahms, to whom they pay tribute. Jörg Widmann says of this work: "In their disconcerting concision and terse brevity, Johannes Brahms' late intermezzos occupy a unique place in the piano literature. It was this inflection in Brahms' late music that I sought to capture in my own Intermezzos, however different I might be in age and disposition. I owe the existence of my piano Intermezzos to my longstanding friendship with Sir Andras Schiff. Over the years we have played the magnificent late Op. 120 Clarinet Sonatas many times, and also spoken of our love for Brahms, over and over again. We presented a joint programme devoted to Brahms-related pieces at the 2010 Salzburg Festival, also including such Brahms-related pieces as Zemlinsky's Clarinet Trio Op. 3. It was at this recital that Andras gave my piano Intermezzos their premiere performance". This album was recorded at Neumarkt's Historischer Reitstadel. © ECM New Series
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Classique - Released September 11, 2020 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
The latest album ‘Encounter’ by the German-Russian pianist is a particularly astonishing one, blending the diverse works of great composers such as Bach, Brahms and Morton Feldman. While the 2020 health crisis, due to the covid19 virus, has caused great anxiety among the general population it has also ignited the imagination of artists and musicians alike. Locked down in his apartment like so many us, the pianist Igor Levitt broadcasted a daily, live performance on his social media, even going as far as playing a 20 hour piece, Vexations by Erik Satie. ‘Encounter’, the product of Levitt’s self-isolation during lockdown, brings together an intelligent and pleasing array of composers. From Bach arranged by Busoni at the Palais de Mari, or the latest work from Morton Feldman for solo piano, to Brahms arranged by Reger, these are intimate connections between composers, as much as they are moments of solidarity at a time or great loneliness and isolation. Levitt’s poignant introspection and devotion to humanity shines throughout his album. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classique - Released September 11, 2020 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
Ottorino Respighi is often thought of as a four-hit wonder for the so-called "Roman Trilogy," plus the Ancient Airs and Dances, orchestral renditions of Renaissance lute pieces, one suite of which is heard here. However, he wrote a good deal of other music, including nine operas that would bear performers' exploration. The listener surely has plenty of strong recordings of The Pines of Rome and The Fountains of Rome to choose from, but there are several reasons to pick this 2020 release from Riccardo Chailly and the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, a group with which Chailly has developed a close relationship. What makes the two tone poems enduringly listenable is their compactness and their quasi-symphonic structure, each with four movements falling into something like the traditional configuration, and with each of the movements unfolding according to an internal logic even as it memorably fills the programmatic bill. It's this balance that Chailly gets: he never overdoes the pictorial aspect, but he delivers plenty of thrills to the listener as The Pines of Rome marches along the Via Appia, or the fountain of the Villa Medici quietly winds down the day. Further, Chailly offers a trio of early Respighi works that may be called rarities. From the first years of the 20th century, these pieces show Respighi's melodic gift and the way he began to tailor it to larger structures, which is just the thing that makes the famous tone poems work. A delightful release that lives up to its single-name Respighi title, it gives a sense of the whole composer. © TiVo
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Classique - Released September 11, 2020 | SWR Classic

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
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Classique - Released September 4, 2020 | Accentus Music

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
He was "tremendously" impressed, Arvo Pärt recalls of the moment he stood in front of Anish Kapoor's Marsyas for the first time at London's Tate Modern. "Suddenly I found myself in a position from where I saw my life in a different light. At that moment, I had the strong feeling that I wasn't ready to die yet," said then-67-year-old Arvo Pärt. This was the creative impulse for Lamentate. Arvo Pärt, who celebrates his 85th birthday on September 11, 2020, seems to have often been inspired to compose by external circumstances. This is demonstrated in the selection of works for or with piano, which Onute Gražinyte chose for her first recording. Für Alina is particularly important to the Lithuanian pianist. In 1976, Pärt dedicated it to a young woman who had decided to leave the Soviet Union for England. "I know Alina's mother personally and can sympathize with her indescribable pain", says Onute Gražinyte. The pianist was baffled by Pärt's simple musical notation. "First you ask yourself: What is this?" Her playing reveals: She understands". Arvo Pärt has reached the core. It's no coincidence that he dedicated many piano pieces to children and that he intended the Vater Unser to be sung by a boy soprano. It's the ideal, the purity that children are born with and the composer has found it again". © Accentus
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Musique de chambre - Released March 6, 2020 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
With the three Piano Trios Op. 1 Ludwig van Beethoven took a genre still largely associated with entertaining salon music, and raised it up to rival the string quartet. The works are innovative in form as well as in content – especially so in the case of the Trio No. 3 in C minor, Beethoven’s trademark key. It is therefore fitting that the Sitkovetsky Trio has chosen this work to open their cycle of the composer’s piano trios. That the C minor Trio was pioneering is illustrated by the fact that Haydn, who at the time was Beethoven’s teacher, advised against its publication. He feared that it would not ‘be understood so quickly and easily’ – but the world as Haydn knew it was clearly changing and the trios became a commercial success as well as harbingers of a new musical aesthetic. Some twenty years later, in 1813 when E. T.A. Hoffmann reviewed the two Op. 70 Trios, the new era was firmly established, and to Hoffmann the works confirmed ‘how Beethoven carries the Romantic spirit of music deep within his soul’. Between the two complete trios recorded here, the Sitkovetskys include Beethoven’s very last contribution to the piano trio genre, the little Allegretto in B flat major, WoO 39. It was composed in June 1812 for Maximiliane, the ten-year-old daughter of Franz and Antonie Brentano – or, as it says on the title page of the autograph manuscript, ‘for my little friend Maxe Brentano, to encourage her piano playing’. &coopy; BIS Records
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Classique - 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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Classique - Released February 28, 2020 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte - 5 étoiles de Classica
Almost forty years separate Verklärte Nacht from the Violin Concerto – the former still influenced by the idiom of Brahms and Wagner, the latter deriving from the richness of that later period when Schoenberg managed to combine a multiplicity of approaches within his twelve-note system. Between post-Romantic twilight and ‘classical’ rigour, Isabelle Faust and her most faithful partners offer us an extraordinarily lively interpretation of some of the most remarkable pages in twentieth-century musical literature. © harmonia mundi
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Classique - Released January 31, 2020 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte - Le Choix de France Musique
Any group performing Beethoven's piano trios must contend with the example of the famous readings by the Beaux Arts Trio, made in the middle 1960s and still in the catalog. Brothers Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, violinist and cellist respectively, with pianist Frank Braley deal with this anxiety of influence by rejecting the Beaux Arts model completely and offering listeners something new: elegant, even breezy Beethoven trios. Their tempos are quick and their balances subtle, nicely revealing many small details. Braley deserves special credit here, holding Beethoven's very active piano parts in check so that the violin and cello are never obscured, but still bringing a graceful quality to them. Some may feel that the first movement of the Piano Trio in B flat major, Op. 97 ("Archduke"), is at the very least atypical Beethoven, with the warm cello melody presented more as a cradle for future developments than as an outpouring of emotion. The slow movement of the Piano Trio in D major, Op. 70, No. 1 ("Ghost"), which gave the trio its name (for Czerny, not for Beethoven), is unusually delicately done here, and Erato's studio sound is another strong point. Recommended especially for those enamored of fresh Beethoven interpretations. © TiVo
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Classique - Released January 17, 2020 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte - Le Choix de France Musique - 5 étoiles de Classica
A soloist and revelation at the French classical music award ceremony “Victoires de la musique classique 2018”, Sélim Mazari was one of the last pupils to study under Brigitte Engerer, before attending the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris with Claire Désert and then moving to London to start a second Master’s degree at the Royal College. For his first solo recording, the young French pianist has opted for an album which is entirely devoted to Beethoven, recording several cycles of variations, with or without opus numbers, including the difficult “Eroica” Variations, on a theme from the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, which he takes up again in the form of a contra-dance and, of course, as the main theme of the Finale from the composer’s forthcoming Third Symphony. Beethoven’s works without opus numbers (WoO) are more numerous than those numbered by himself or his publishers. During his youth as a virtuoso-composer, he did not approach his works with the historical perspective he would gain later in life, perhaps aware of his growing reputation and genius. The Twelve Variations on a Theme by Paul Wranitzky from 1796 already heralded the maturity and complexity that Beethoven gave to the many variations that would punctuate his entire oeuvre. Though not exactly loved by the composer, the 32 Variations in C minor are nevertheless profoundly original and allowed the young Beethoven to impress his audiences in the salons.
The Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 34 from 1802 offered a “new” way for Beethoven to free himself from his predecessors. The “Eroica” Variations occupy a dominant position in the Beethovian catalogue thanks to their pleasant, dramatic, humorous and mysterious atmospheres. © François Hudry / Qobuz
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Musique vocale profane - Released November 29, 2019 | Decca

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
She had to dare. Cecilia Bartoli appears on this album cover nude, androgynous, in a full beard and with hair down to her shoulders, delving deeper into the legend surrounding Farinelli, already explored with questionable sensationalism in the world of cinema and replaced with more correct historical precision in Patrick Barbier's brilliant book dedicated to the famous Neapolitan castrato. The now-lost voice of castratos made eager crowds go wild at the time, the singers carrying a certain mythical aura around them, attributed to the confusion of their gender, bathed in an ambiguous eroticism. These music lovers have not however disappeared: they're the ones rushing to hear the Italian singer's vocal prowess both in concert and on disc. For this opus dedicated to Farinelli, Cecilia Bartoli has chosen well-known melodies from the repertoire of the famous singer, varying her vocal fireworks she is so renowned for with some more dramatic, introspective tunes. Cecilia Bartoli conjures up Porpora, Hasse, Giacomelli, Caldara and Riccardo Broschi, Farinelli's own brother in a thrilling spectacle which aims, if not to uncover a hypothetical voice of the past, to replicate the chills it could produce thanks to her passion and dedication to the art. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Opéra - Released November 22, 2019 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Diapason d'or / Arte
After his spectacular recording of Berlioz’s magnum opus, the opera Les Troyens, which was awarded internationally, the Berlioz enthusiast John Nelson has delivered a new version of La Damnation de Faust which also appears to be on track for dizzying success. For this recording made in concert by Daniel Zalay and his team of sound engineers in the Erasme Auditorium of the Palais de la musique et des congrès de Strasbourg (Strasbourg Convention Centre) on the 25th and 26th of April 2019, John Nelson reunited with the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, whose typically French style and German discipline he likes so much. The army of instrumentalists would have pleased Berlioz, with its eight double basses and six harps among others. John Nelson knows his way round this music like no one else, he knows to inject it with a particular energy all while respecting the musical colour so well defined by the composer. He is surrounded by the cast of dreams, with Faust masterfully portrayed by the tenor Michael Spyres who sings the French perfectly and knows how to embody the character by playing on the quality of his tonality. Joyce DiDonato is an opulent Marguerite, full of fire and totally engaged. Nicolas Courjal plays a very expressive Mephisto; his sombre tone underlines the darkness and bitter irony of the character he plays. The children’s choir Les Petits Chanteurs de Strasbourg and the powerful Gulbenkian Choir perfectly round off this ideal casting. A new milestone in the recording of Berlioz’s main works under John Nelson’s direction for the label Erato, this accomplished record precedes Roméo et Juliette which the same artists will undertake in 2020. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Musique de chambre - Released September 27, 2019 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
To celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birthday with the entire world in 2020, the Carnegie Hall chose the French ensemble the Ébène Quartet to perform Beethoven’s Quatuors in their entirety. Honoured by this prestigious invitation, the four musicians decided to prolong this exceptional moment by playing this globally recognised music around the world, on all five continents in seven concerts between April 2019 and January 2020. The intellectual and emotional strength of Beethoven’s opus remains a force to be reckoned with, a humanist vector carried by the spirit of the Enlightenment. Over the course of this fantastic journey, the Ébène Quartet will record the quatuors in concerts given in Vienna, Philadelphia, Tokyo, São Paulo, Melbourne, Nairobi and Paris, their home ground. A film crew will follow the musicians on their world tour and will thereafter produce a documentary. The first milestone of this Beethoven around the World journey makes up this album, and was recorded in June 2019 in the Mozartsaal of the Vienna Konzerthaus. It contains the first two Razumovsky Quatuors, performed in the very city where they were composed in 1806. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classique - Released September 6, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
Leading the Lucerne Festival for two summers running, conductor Richardo Chailly has honoured composers that the musicians had never yet recorded: Igor Stravinsky in 2018, and Richard Strauss in 2019. The sumptuousness of the orchestration of the latter here affords a glittering clarity, just as much in the concertante parts as in the tutti. The writing conjures a Straussian atmosphere: a marvellously apt terrain for the Lucerne orchestra. In Zarathustra, the strings, in particular the double-basses, rumble away as under one bow, with gobsmacking precision in Von der großen Sehnsucht ("Of the Great Yearning") and Genesende ("the Convalescent"). Richard Strauss deploys a romantic counterpoint in his writing – in particular in Von den Hinterweltlern ("Of the Backworldsmen") – and the strings of Lucerne brilliantly bring his limitless lyricism to life. The following works, (Tod und Verklärung, Till Eulenspiegel and finally The Dance of the Seven Veils) bring to mind other epithets that we might apply to this perfect recording: epic majesty, burlesque humour, serpentine voluptuousness: all ingredients of Strauss's symphonic poems. The sound quality does justice to the beauty of the orchestra, and the mix doesn't leave anyone out: every counterpoint is defined, every pizzicato twangs appropriately and we hear even the softest touch of the timbal. Demanding in their extremity (in both nuance and difficulty), these scores make a perfect fit for the Lucerne orchestra, a meeting of the greatest soloists of the international stage, brought together by the festival. The only drawback comes from precisely this concentration of quality. While we are gripped by Salome's Dance of the Seven Veils, we are perhaps more impressed than moved by a piece that has been stripped of some of its finest orchestral ornamentation. © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz