Albums

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Chamber Music - Released February 15, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
The least that one could say about the art of Moldavian violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja is that one cannot be left indifferent by it - so completely does she set herself apart from her "smoother", more mainstream peers. One only needs to hear her explosive reading of Ravel's Tzigane, where she is particularly daring: the result is extravagant, but in reality, it is wholly in keeping with the spirit of this score, which too many violinists play prissily: after listening to this, you'll not want to hear it played any other way. Kopatchinskaja murmurs, rages, dreams, swoons, surges, explodes, caresses, grips, undulates, chirrups and slaps through the ten minutes of this humorous, provocative, bravura performance. Doubtless the serious Bartók wouldn't have relished Ravel's pseudo-Hungarian allusions - not understanding that the French composer was simply lampooning the Viennese pseudo-Hungarian-Tzigane style - going by his Second Sonata for Violin and Piano, which is both dogmatically Magyar and Bartókian, a rather gruff piece all in all. Much less gruff is the sumptuous Sonata by Poulenc, written in 1943 in a tone which is sometimes tragic - even if the facetious Poulenc undertakes his own personal Resistance by working into each of his three movements a quotation from Tea for Two, a song forbidden under the Occupation. Pianist Polia Leschenko offers the violinist a breather with the short but efficient waltz  Coppelia by Dohnanyi, a little Franco-Hungarian wink, a prelude to the big wink Tzigane, which crowns the album. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 26, 2018 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Concertos for wind instruments - Released January 19, 2018 | Accent

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice
Stefan Temmingh is a member of the new young generation of world-class recorder players. Born in Cape Town, he comes from a Dutch-South-African family of musicians and now lives in Munich. Being an early music specialist, he plays internationally with his baroque ensemble at renowned festivals and concert series, and can also be heard as a member of ensembles of all sizes in Europe, Asia and Africa. His fine playing is regularly compared to the style of the legendary Frans Brüggen. On this collaboration with the Capricornus Consort Basel, he makes use of his wide array of technical and musical resources to render a reference version of Vivaldi’s Recorder Concertos. © Accent
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Classical - Released January 12, 2018 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
There comes a moment in the career of any respected violinist (and even some who aren't), when they dream of playing, and perhaps recording, Paganini's 24 Caprices. And that is precisely what German star violinist Augustin Hadelich (b. 1984) has done. Hadelich has been a regular fixture in the orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, London, Munich and Salzburg, for whom he has given some of the greatest concertos that exist, but he has also performed a repertoire of much rarer, contemporary works, which he has decided to champion. Hadelich tackles these 24 Caprices, which Paganini wrote over about 15 years, from 1802 to 1817, without intending to make them into a cycle in their own right - much less a programme to be played in a single concert; indeed, it seems that he never performed them in concert himself - like many small Italian operas (but French ones as well, in the tradition of grand opéra), each one is concentrated down into a few minutes. They run from grandiose tragedy in the style of Meyerbeer, to lighter shades of Rossini, with a real lyrical and vocal vision which is as far removed as can be from pure and demonstrative virtuosity. At 33 years old, Hadelich shows consistent maturity, but also humility, and a sense of experience which one would expect to see in a much older musician. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 12, 2018 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
In Great Scott, the Kansas-born mezzo-soprano, one of today’s best-loved classical singers, creates a role conceived specifically with her in mind. The character she plays, Arden Scott, just happens to be an opera star, and she is the lynchpin of what Fred Plotkin of WQXR, the USA’s leading classical music radio station, welcomed as a “deeply moving and musically brilliant work” that “should enter the standard repertory just as Heggie’s two previous masterpieces – Dead Man Walking and Moby Dick – already have”. Jake Heggie, who has been described as US opera’s most successful composer, chose the celebrated playwright Terence McNally as his librettist for Great Scott. The two previously collaborated on the gripping Dead Man Walking, which has become something of a modern classic since its premiere in 2000. Joyce DiDonato first performed its central role, Sister Helen Prejean, at New York City Opera in 2002 and will do so again in concert stagings in London and Madrid in January/February 2018, coinciding with the album release of Great Scott. © Warner Classics
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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released January 12, 2018 | Albion

Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Full Operas - Released December 1, 2017 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
Everyone thinks that they know Alceste by Lully, and yet this 1674 masterpiece has almost never been recorded in its entirety. Apart from the Malgoire version from 1975 with Bruce Brewer and Felicity Palmer, which is starting to become outdated, the real treat is a second versoin by the same Malgoire twenty years later with Jean-Philippe Lafont and Colette Alliot-Lugaz... And so we can only take our hats off to the new discographical opus from Christophe Rousset's Talens Lyriques, a lively and elegant reading which allows us to rediscover everything that was so innovative about this brilliant, effervescent Florentine, who would become a typical Versaillais, a courtesan and a wheeler-dealer. King Louis XIV - 36 years old, still with all his own teeth and a victorious war leader - could only feel flattered by the piece signed by Quinault: Alcide, who covets the beautiful Alceste (who has been promised to Admetus), is none other than Hercules himself - Louis XIV seeing himself in Hercules saving the beautiful Madame de Montespan from the clutches of her husband.  To be sure, in this opera, Admetus/Hercules magnanimously hands Alceste, whom he has saved from hell, to her husband, while the poor Mr Montespan would end his career and his life exiled in Gascony... Honour intact. The Sun King loved the work, to the point that he commanded that rehearsals be held at Versailles. According to Madame de Sévigné, "The King declared that if he found himself in Paris when it was performed, he would go to see it every night." That being said, if Alceste suited the tastes of the court, it didn't do so well in Paris, where Lully's enemies, jealous of the extravagant privileges that he had won (the exclusive right to "have sung any whole piece in France, wither in French verse or in other languages, without the written permission of said Sir Lully, on pain of a ten thousand livre fine, and confiscation of theatres, equipment, decorations, costumes..."), heaped plot upon plot, while the gallant Mercury sang his little couplet: Dieu !  Le bel opéra ! Rien de plus pitoyable ! Cerbère y vient japper d'un aboi lamentable !  Oh ! Quelle musique de chien ! Oh ! Quelle musique du diable ! [Lord!/Fine opera!/There's nothing so pitiable!/Cerberus is yapping, his howls lamentable!/What doggish music!/What devilish music!]. Posterity would decide otherwise, and Rousset proved it triumphantly. © SM/Qobuz
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Opera - Released November 17, 2017 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Solo Piano - Released November 17, 2017 | APR

Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
This edition of the complete recordings of the Beethoven Sonatas, made during the war, is a godsend for all the lovers of the great German pianist, and there are a lot of them, of all generations. One could get a bit lost in the jungle of his many recordings that came out from 1920 to 1975: that is, over 55 years – which is a lot, to say that he doesn't like playing for microphones. But Kempff has always been happy to record nonetheless, and is constantly polishing up his technique so as to render the most faithful possible service to his art, given the technological innovations that he has seen across his many years of recording, from acoustics to stereophony, by way of electric recording, 78rpm and the 33rpm microgroove.   He has recorded a lot of music since the start of his long career: Bach, Brahms, Schubert, but in particular, at 80%, he remains one of the greatest performers of his dear friend Beethoven. The recordings from this period are not always easy to date, because they could appear under many different matrix numbers, although they are in fact all the same version. Some famous sonatas, of course, have indeed been recorded many times: Pathétique as well as Clair de lune, Waldstein and Appassionata. The sonatas which figure in this album, recorded in Berlin in 1942 and 1943, make up what should have been a recording of the complete works, but which was interrupted by the war. Despite a fairly ephemeral French edition in the 1980s with the Dante label, these recordings were forgotten in favour of two later complete recordings, the first of which was produced in the 1950s and the second in the 1960s in stereophony.   Even if the surface sound is omnipresent in these re-recordings, it is quickly forgotten thanks to the painstaking restoration that has brought back Kempff's marvellously delicate touch. It is thrilling to follow in the footsteps of this towering musician, and compare him to himself across the years. In fact, his art has not aged as time has gone by, even if one notes the substantial difference in the discourse, the sound (depending on the piano used), the tempo and the formal construction. A document of the greatest musical interest. François Hudry © Qobuz 2017
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Classical - Released November 10, 2017 | Decca

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
This is a gentle kind of duet, which sets up Cecilia Bartoli "opposite" cellist Sol Gabetta, if we can speak of "opposition". The two stars chose a few airs out of the baroque repertoire where the composers have included a part for cello, and the two lines intertwine against the backdrop of the continuo or the orchestra. Albinoni, Caldara, Haendel and many others have often married the cello's deep voice with the light, airy tones of the soprano in a game of mirrors, contrasts, and "he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not”... This highly original billing benefits not only from the duettists' clear talents, but also the involvement of the Capella Gabetta led by the violinist Andrés Gabetta - to be sure, in the duets of old it wasn't the done thing for other performers to get involved, but in this instance, it adds up to a perfect balance. It's certainly not the end of the world - or of this duet! This album, highly original, is one of September's nicest surprises.
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Symphonic Music - Released November 10, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
Haydn2032, the ambitious project of recording the complete symphonies of Haydn, has been placed from the start under the artistic direction of Giovanni Antonini, with two ensembles, Il Giardino Armonico, which made the first four volumes, and the Kammerochester Basel, to which this fifth volume and the next two are assigned. Another characteristic of the edition is that each time Haydn is set in perspective with another composer; here it is Joseph Martin Kraus (1756-92): ‘Kraus was the first man of genius that I met. Why did he have to die? It is an irreparable loss for our art. The Symphony in C minor he wrote in Vienna specially for me is a work which will be considered a masterpiece in every century’, said Haydn in 1797. Though he long remained forgotten after his death, Kraus made an active contribution to the movement of poetic renewal called ‘Sturm und Drang’ or ‘Geniezeit’ (time of genius) because such artists as the young Goethe broke free of all tradition to follow their hearts alone. When Haydn called Kraus homme de génie, in French, he probably had this context in mind. The two composers had met in Vienna in 1783. © Alpha Classics
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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 10, 2017 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
This project originated, Sabine Devieilhe says, from her desire to tackle Lakmé. In fact, Delibes was able to compose for her heroine some of the most memorable pages for coloratura soprano, starting with the hugely famous "air des clochettes" [Bell Song]. And as Western ears at the time were eager for musical and poetic voyages, and sensations from far-off lands, we find these same Oriental fantasies with Maurice Delage, who himself went on a grand tour of India, where he found modal colours, but also in Madame Chrysanthème by Messager or Rossignol by Stravinsky, to say nothing of the Egypt of Thaïs as portrayed by Anatole France and Massenet. Sabine Devieilhe, who won the "Lyrical revelation" prize at Victoires de la musique classique in 2013 before winning "Lyrical artist of the year" at the same ceremony – certainly not an unfair judgement of this particular artist – started her recording career with recordings of Rameau, Bach and Mozart, before launching into the lyrical repertoire from more recent years… And with great success! © SM/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released November 3, 2017 | Signum Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Classical - Released November 3, 2017 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice
“Nacht und Träume” takes its name from one of Schubert’s best-loved lieder, which is joined on the album by a further 10 of the composer’s songs. All performed in orchestral versions by such masters as Berlioz, Liszt, Brahms, Strauss, Webern, Britten and Schubert himself, they are complemented by three choral numbers and an orchestral interlude. The singers are rising stars – German mezzo-soprano Wiebke Lehmkuhl and French tenor Stanislas de Barbeyrac – and Laurence Equilbey conducts two ensembles she founded: the Insula orchestra and the choir Accentus. © Warner Classics
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Classical - Released November 3, 2017 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Qobuzissime
Aside from Elgar’s fascinating and obligatory Falstaff composed in 1913 (a Symphonic Study according to the partition, but in reality a symphonic poem in the grand tradition of Strauss— about whom Elgar probably thought when he wrote his masterpiece, and the rather present solo cello cannot help but remind us of Strauss’ Don Quixote, composed sixteen years earlier), the album distinguishes itself by a few melodies with orchestra from the same Elgar, a repertoire unfortunately too often neglected and yet of breathtaking beauty (we hear, in a pinch, the Sea Pictures performed from time to time, but that’s all folks). And when you know that it’s the now very famous baritone Roderick Williams on the mic, we can only applaud the initiative of Andrew Davis and the BBC Philharmonic to feature these splendors once again. Elgar proves to us here that, far from just being a great master of large symphonic-vocal soundscapes in the form of oratorio (we obviously think about The Dream of Gerontius, The Apostles and The Music Makers), he handles the miniature with genius. Roderick Williams, one of the most beautiful voices of today’s British scene, grasps these rarities with a joy that is as rare as these pieces. The album closes on a hilarious wink, the Smoking Cantata, a cantata with a ginormous orchestration but that lasts… only 49 seconds, and whose text is limited to: “Kindly, Kindly, kindly do not SMOKE in the hall or staircase”. It’s the best British humor! Qobuz technical commentary on sound quality The sound quality for this wonderful orchestration is refined; the level ratios are well-judged; and the distances between the consoles are just right, in this airy piece of mixing that renders the lines exceptionally clear. Clear and enveloping reverberation never hides the discourse: the result is a rare evenness between the different families within the orchestra. The tutti certainly aren’t lacking any liveliness, thanks to the remarkably assured dynamic, and when the percussion gets going we discover a beautifully-proportioned hall, which gives the sound room to develop without constraints. Without falling into the very (too?) popular trap of ultra-proximity, and because the acoustics allow it, Chandos has produced a mix which really respects the score, the performance, and the sound scene... what a relief! © SM/Qobuz