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Solo Piano - Released October 25, 2019 | Warner Classics

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

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Symphonic Music - Released September 20, 2019 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique
The discography of Manuel de Falla’s two most famous orchestral scores - El sombrero de tres picos (1916-1919) and El amor brujo (1919-1925) - reveals a certain proximity to French and (of course) Spanish orchestras. These two delicate ballets require fine balances and sharp attacks while showing a sensitivity to timbres and natural balances. Given the general scarcity of recordings of these ballets, fans of the composer must not miss this new Falla release, which presents two surprises: firstly, in El amor brujo, Pablo Heras-Casado uses a “cantaora”, in line with Josep Pons’ attempts more than twenty years ago, giving an exquisite touch of Iberian exoticism. The second surprise is that it is the Mahler Chamber Orchestra who are performing here (which could almost feel incongruous, were it not performed by musicians of such a high calibre). The orchestra is unfamiliar with this repertoire, yet the musicians undeniably virtuosic all the same. Though since Pablo Heras-Casado has been travelling all over the place, has he perhaps lost his sense of direction? El Sombrero de tres picos feels almost like Nielsen’s Aladdin here and the colours deployed in El amor brujo often evoke Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana or Nordic serenades. Doesn’t Falla’s Spain have more nerve and radiance? It calls for us to listen to Ataúlfo Argenta’s version with the Conservatory Concert Society (notably the recording of El amor brujo with Ana Maria Iriarte, 1953) again, just to make sure. © QobuzThe two splendid works on this album resulted from Manuel de Falla's encounter with the husband-and-wife team of dramatists Martínez Sierra-Lejárraga: El amor brujo, whose eminently ‘gypsy’ inspiration takes us to the very heart of the flamenco repertory, here magnificently embodied under the direction of maestro Pablo Heras-Casado; and the brilliant pantomime El sombrero de tres picos, for which Picasso designed the sets and costumes – exactly 100 years ago! © harmonia mundi
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Chamber Music - Released September 13, 2019 | Mirare

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Since setting off in the early 2000s, Pierre Hantaï is still journeying into Domenico Scarlatti’s world. After a hiatus of more than ten years following the third volume, the harpsichordist finally recorded a fourth volume in 2016 and this autumn sees the sixth one come into bloom, once again superbly recorded in Haarlem in the Netherlands by Nicolas Bartholomée. Pierre Hantaï is taking his time to gradually construct a perfect anthology of Scarlatti’s keyboard work. Here, he explores some of his little-known sonatas. His keyboard intensifies the profound rhythmic force of Scarlatti’s world: the sharp lines burst forth, the harmonic tension constantly explodes, the new tones are revealed smoothly, and his playing – with an exhilarating left hand – is stunning throughout. The first five sonatas of this new release (all of which have a fairly fast tempo) form a representative ensemble of a rather uncompromising Scarlatti, followed by a moment of gravity and meditation with the exquisite Sonata in F minor, K. 69, while the surrounding Sonatas K. 502 and K. 43 (with a wonderfully volatile left hand) have clearly marked rhythms. The style and atmosphere changes with Sonata in C major, K. 384, whose tender “French” tone is emphasised by Pierre Hantaï, and at the same time there’s an almost modern feel which goes beyond even Soler’s most audacious scores. Fascinating! While the tender sonatas (K. 550, K. 544) distil an aftertaste that is slightly more spicy than the previous volumes, what continues to surprise us with Hantaï in this repertoire is his prolonged search for a “Hispanic” feel - a Spain in a majestic trance, with colliding rhythms and contrasting accents and registers. Let’s hope that Pierre Hantaï does not wait another ten years to deliver the seventh volume; there is no doubt that these Scarlatti recordings will remain one of the most exciting and necessary musical adventures of the 21st century. A perfectly captured sound, style and universe. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Duets - Released August 30, 2019 | Mirare

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Classical - Released June 7, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released May 3, 2019 | Signum Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Le Choix de France Musique
Fans of the British crown’s splendour will certainly marvel at this double album that reproduces the coronation anthems of the four monarchs of the 20th century: Edward VII in 1902, George V in 1911, George VI in 1937, and current Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Very few of today’s ceremonies can reach such levels of grandeur.At the crossroads of tradition and innovation, these coronation ceremonies are characterised by the evocation of past heritage works, and the addition of numerous pieces commissioned specifically for the occasion to the best composers in the kingdom. For such events, Westminster Abbey is closed for several months to allow an army of craftsmen to build monumental galleries capable of hosting up to eight thousand guests. Then come the rehearsals with 400-singer choirs, half of them children, an immense orchestra, and the indispensable great organ.This recording is a selection of the best moments of these ceremonies, presented as a single liturgical structure. This ample reconstitution led by Paul McCreesh follows for the most part the 1937 ceremony, dropping however the era’s typical style when interpreting Handel. The musical approach has changed so much that it is presented here in the “baroque” style characteristic of our early 21st century. Some difficult choices were made, particularly regarding the Te Deum, the centrepiece and climax of the ceremony. A Cornelian choice between the ones from Stanford (1902), Parry (1911), Vaughan Williams (1937) and William Walton (1953). The latter was finally chosen, for its radiance and theatrical impetus. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Quartets - Released April 26, 2019 | Alpha

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Formed in 1994 at the Royal College of Music in London, the Belcea Quartet already has an impressive discography, including the complete Beethoven string quartets. For this new recording, the ensemble has chosen three quartets by two iconic composers of the 20th century: Leos Janáček and György Ligeti. Fifteen years after their first recording for Zig-Zag, and after some changes in personnel, they have decided to record again the two string quartets by Janáček. The First Quartet was inspired by Leon Tolstoy’s famous novella, The Kreutzer Sonata: the four-movement work follows the narrative, including its culminating murder. The Second Quartet is subtitled Intimate Letters, in homage to Kamila Stösslova, with whom the composer had an important relationship expressed through letters, one that influenced both his life and his music. Finally, the First Quartet by Ligeti, subtitled Métamorphoses nocturnes because of its particular form. The composer described the work as a sort of theme and variations, but not with a specific theme that is then subsequently varied: rather, it is a single musical thought appearing under constantly new guises – for this reason the word ‘metamophoses’ is more appropriate than ‘variations’. © Alpha Classics
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Keyboard Concertos - Released April 19, 2019 | harmonia mundi

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Symphonies - Released April 5, 2019 | Sony Classical

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Solo Piano - Released March 1, 2019 | BIS

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Symphonic Music - Released February 22, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Cello Concertos - Released January 18, 2019 | Warner Classics

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French cellist Gautier Capuçon does not lack for charisma (or talent), and he has emerged as a major star. The Erato label seems to have tried to capitalize on that with the design of this album, featuring photos by the American Jamie Beck that cast Capuçon as a kind of Byronic figure. It may be a bit over the top, but classical music needs stars. The contents of the album, however, may not quite live up to the heroic concept. They consist of live performances recorded between 2009 and 2015, not of new material. Schumann wrote more music for cello than other composers did, and assembling them in a single program may have made sense. But the sound universes of the Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129, and the various chamber pieces are entirely different. The major attraction here is the concerto, a work that has been revaluated upward in recent years as performers have clarified its knotty lines. Historically oriented performance works well with Schumann, and there is a historical reading by Argentine cellist Sol Gabetta with the Kammerorchester Basel. But Capuçon offers a fine modern-instrument option, and an important contributor to its success is octogenarian conductor Bernard Haitink, leading the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Sample the precise interplay between Capuçon and Haitink in the first movement, which makes the music seem to unfold inevitably. The concerto never drags, and Capuçon sounds gorgeous. The chamber works were recorded at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland with pianist Martha Argerich, and, in the case of the Fantasiestücke, Op. 88, Capuçon's brother Renaud on violin. Despite the august collaborators, these readings feature differing approaches from the principals and don't quite jell, either interpretively or sonically. Nevertheless, this is an album Capuçon's fans will want, and the reading of the concerto is an important addition to its growing discography.
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Symphonic Music - Released January 18, 2019 | Alpha

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Alpha begins a complete cycle of the symphonies by Sibelius alongside some of his symphonic poems with Gothenburg Symphony and its new chief conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali. In the great tradition of Finnish conductors, Santtu-Matias Rouvali is known for his extremely physical and organic interpretations: ‘Music unmistakeably flows from him’, commented The Sunday Times. This was evident when, at a very young age, he stepped in to conduct a concert with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra which began the journey to his first tenure as Chief Conductor with the Tampere Philharmonic; a meteoric rise to a career working at the highest musical level internationally; and a third post as Principal Guest Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. When Bachtrack asked him how he shapes the orchestral sound, he replied: ‘I sing it, I move my hands the way I want it (…) the conductor should be able to show tempo somewhere in the body (…) I was also a drum kit player, so my feet and hands can do different things at the same time. When you read the score, you sing it in your head (…) I think it’s the sense of inside groove that you get from playing percussion which is very important in Sibelius’s music.’ In the Gothenburg Symphony he finds a prestigious cohort of musicians with an impressive discography, and joins a line of their illustrious musical directors, notably Neeme Järvi, the orchestra’s principal conductor from 1982 to 2004, but also Gustavo Dudamel, who is honorary conductor. © Outhere Music
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Cello Concertos - Released November 30, 2018 | Sony Classical

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Cellist Sol Gabetta and her almost-favourite pianist, Bertrand Chamayou, focus here on Schumann's all too rare repertoire for cello and piano. And once again, none of these pieces are intended a priori for cello, even though the original scores do propose the instrument as a possible alternative to the clarinet in Fantasy Pieces or the horn in Adagio and Allegro. It was only with Five Pieces in Folk Style that Schumann immediately thought of the cello! Here, Chamayou plays on a Viennese fortepiano by Streicher, dated from 1847 - three or four years after the composition of these three works. The Concerto for cello is accompanied by the Basel Chamber Orchestra, who also play on instruments from the romantic era, giving a more hushed yet incisive sound for the attacks. There’s more of an emphasis on the woodwind section as well, in contrast to the over-inflated string ensemble that so many modern orchestras offer up. © SM/Qobuz
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Solo Piano - Released November 30, 2018 | Mirare

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Through his “brilliance and maturity” (as described by The Guardian) the Russian-Lithuanian pianist Lukas Geniušas has established himself on the international scene as one of the most interesting artists of his generation. He has appeared in London's Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Milan's Salle Verdi, Moscow's Conservatory and Roque d'Anthéron, and with orchestras such as the Philharmonique de Radio France, the National de Lyon, the NHK of Tokyo, the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic, the Russian National Orchestra, the list goes on... He has chosen here a Prokofiev programme combining early works from his younger years (the Ten Pieces Op. 12 which is a junior work and yet so intimately prokofievian already!) with the work from his first stage of maturity (Second Sonata from 1912) and the work from his full maturity (the Fifth Sonata). Even better, this Fifth Sonata was written "for the first time" in 1923 after his time in Paris, then revised three decades later under the constraint, undoubtedly, of the infamous Jdanov decree which had accused the composer of all anti-Soviet evils, but also due to a very personal concern (he wanted to purify the piano gesture). In a way this work seems almost "Parisian" as it has so many similarities with Poulenc's style. © SM/Qobuz
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Violin Concertos - Released October 26, 2018 | harmonia mundi

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To say that the concerto was one of Haydn's favourite forms would be a bit much, daft even. The man wrote a good hundred symphonies, dozens of quartets, trios, piano sonatas, fifteen or so masses and as many operas, and oratorios... Currently we know of three violin concertos (others being lost or apocryphal), two cello concertos (others... see above), one horn concerto, one for trumpet (there are no others) and at most about ten concertos for piano. Musically, they are fascinating works, but the level of technical skill they demand runs from moderate to a bit tricky. But the First Cello Concerto is not without its moments of difficulty, such as the rapid high notes in the final movement, and it offers some real fireworks. It should also be noted that most of the concertos were written for Esterházy, specifically for the first soloists in the house orchestra of Konzertmeister Luigi Tomasini and first cellist Joseph Weigl. The orchestral accompaniments offered the soloists some fine backdrops: in particular in the second movement of the Concerto for violin in C Major , with the orchestra's string section accompanying the solo violin with a sort of lute-playing that becomes a kind of serenade à la Don Giovanni. Amandine Beyer takes up the violin for this recording, while Marco Ceccato deals with the cello solo – both members of the Gli Incogniti ensemble ("The Unknowns"), a fluid grouping that plays without a conductor. Their leaderless style means that the musicians all listen to one another: it's a lovely way of making music (and sadly rare in the world of orchestras). © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released October 19, 2018 | Warner Classics

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Staying true to himself, harpsichordist Jean Rondeau stirs up another musical storm. In his interpretation of around fifteen Sonatas by Scarlatti, he unleashes a kind of rawness, a poetic rawness, as if he had invented the sonatas on the spot. But no, no, they are indeed Scarlatti’s sonatas! On the other hand, Domenico's letter to Queen Marie-Barbara de Bragança, found in the accompanying booklet, is factually apocryphal. She was his pupil as early as 1720 and continued to be until her royal marriage to the Spanish court; it seems that it was for her that he wrote his approximately five hundred and fifty-five sonatas, that is to say that he had found a student worthy of his genius. The farce on the ninth track is also apocryphal, which Rondeau uses as an interlude between the two “parts” of his programme. It is a funny little improvisation of jumbled notes and clusters - enough to clean the ears between the two Scarlattis. The instrument used here is quite amazing; it is a harpsichord “based on German models”, built in 2006 by Jonte Knif & Arno Pelto. It offers an extremely rich sound with a rather unusual tone, showing that it takes more than just pressing the keys of a harpsichord to get the desired sound. With his very personal technique, Rondeau makes his harpsichord wonderfully unique, giving the baroque music an incredibly modern feel. © SM/Qobuz
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released October 19, 2018 | Glossa

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The modern-day appreciation of Francesco Bartolomeo Conti takes a decisive turn in the direction of his church music with this early eighteenth-century composer’s Missa Sancti Pauli given an ideal recording on Glossa by György Vashegyi, the Purcell Choir and Orfeo Orchestra. Conti was a Florentine who worked for much of his career in the Imperial Court in Vienna, generating much attention there – the ever-observant Johann Sebastian Bach and Zelenka were both known to have been attracted by his music. Curiously, it was liturgical works like this 1715 Missa Sancti Pauli which kept Conti’s name known until near to the end of the nineteenth century rather than the operas, oratorios and cantatas with which he delighted the Viennese Court and which have hitherto been receiving the attention of artists and record labels today. If Conti’s church music is less fledgling Classical than his dramatic fare, there is much in the way of melodic tunefulness and concertato style – for both voices and instruments – to combine with fugalimitative writing reminiscent of the “stile antico”. The work is a “Credo Mass” (both Mozart and Beethoven were to write examples of this genre, with its rondolike restatement of the word in the Credo section. The tone, control, presence and unity of the Purcell Choir have been amply demonstrated already on Glossa in music of the French Baroque – Rameau and Mondonville in particular – and the singers are given full opportunity to shine in Conti’s mass – as are the orchestra, comprised mainly of strings, and the vocal soloists, who include Adriána Kalafszky, Péter Bárány, Zoltán Megyesi and Thomas Dolié. Bárány and Megyesi are also soloists in two additional works: the motet, Fastos caeli audite and the aria Pie Jesu, ad te refugio. © Glossa
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Classical - Released October 12, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica