Albums

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Symphonies - Released September 10, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released September 10, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

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Given that the aim of this recording, announced in the booklet notes, is to "[demonstrate] how composers in Germany, Italy, Austria, and England responded to the challenges of writing for the violin senza basso, it's a bit odd to begin the proceedings with a work that's not for violin at all. However, the transcription for solo violin of Bach's underplayed Partita for flute in A minor, BWV 1013, by violinist Rachel Podger herself, is quite idiomatic to the violin, and Podger's performance is lively and attractive. From Bach, Podger looks outward to other solo violin works rather than back to the tradition immediately preceding Bach's unaccompanied sonatas and partitas. The works don't have anything directly to do with one another, but they are united in part by being Podger's favorites, and there are some fascinating offbeat pieces that do indeed seem to have counterparts in Bach's magisterial compendia. Consider the very nice pair of solo sonatas by Giuseppe Tartini. In the Giga movement of the first one, the violin takes its solo and is answered by itself in the role not only of harmonic accompaniment but of orchestral figure. The pieces by Nicola Matteis, who inaugurated the entire migration of Italian musicians to Britain, have a fantastic spirit, while the sonata by Pisendel, which may have preceded or followed Bach's pieces, is at least similar to them in language, although less deep. A selection from Biber's Rosary Sonatas works well as a finale. One minor flaw is that notes describe a sonata by Antonio Montanari that is not actually included; a more serious problem is overresonant church sound inconsistent with the chamber purposes of the music.
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Concertos - Released September 10, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

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Violin Concertos - Released September 10, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

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Concertos - Released September 10, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

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Secular Vocal Music - Released April 27, 2018 | harmonia mundi

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We could say that the composers chosen here by Sébastien Daucé and the Ensemble Correspondances cover England from 1600 to 1700, from Coprario's generation (real name Cooper, but Italicised for fashion reasons!), Johnson and Lanier, all born before the turn of the 17th century, up to Hart and Blow who died just after. Step by step, we follow the integration of the new art brought over from Italy, although the typically-Italian recitations remain coloured by "declamation", a typical feature of English music. Another clear pivot is the twenty-year musical hiatus between the start of the Civil War in 1642 and the Restoration with Charles II's return to the throne, and in between, the Puritan religious dictatorship of Cromwell, which tried to ban more or less any form of celebration, including music. A number of English artists chose exile in the countryside, teaching music, or went abroad. This comprehensive selection spanning a whole century allows the Correspondances ensemble, a broad group of singers and instrumentalists, to show their deep knowledge of this whole epoch, which is extremely rich despite often precarious conditions of life and threats to survival. © SM/Qobuz
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Solo Piano - Released April 13, 2018 | La Dolce Volta

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Among the many young talents which are currently developing on the musical scene, a select few are particularly spellbinding. One of these is Florian Noack whose generosity and solar brilliance shine through from the very first listening. His vivaciousness and curiosity are thrilling and infectious. His "twenty-five" fingers gallop marvellously across the keyboard. And most important of all, his sincerity and humility command respect.  A traveller to the heart of national folk musics, he shares in their unique flavours, by turns exquisite and powerful; he sometimes offers his own unique arrangements... Pianist Florian Noack invites us here on a stunning musical adventure: his first recording for La Dolce Volta, after several albums for Ars Produktion and Artalinna. Florian Noack's album is structured around dance: Brahms, Grieg, Schubert, Rachmaninov, Szymanowski, Komitas, Janáček, Nín, Martucci, Grainger, for a virtuous, poetical and intimate sequence. Florian Noack deploys all the range of his talent to bring us the quintessence of these pieces, which in other hands would seem banal. This is an utterly charming album, which will not leave anyone indifferent: that's for sure! © La Dolce Volta
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Violin Concertos - Released March 23, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

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After the volumes dedicated to Vivaldi's great instrumental cycles, La Stravaganza (2004), La Cetra (2012) and L’Estro armonico (2015), English violinist Rachel Podger continues her work with her Brecon Baroque ensemble to bring out this version of the Four Seasons, which is rounded off with three violin concertos. Brecon Baroque is an offshoot of the festival of the same name that takes place every year at the end of October, in Wales. A magical place at the confluence of two rivers, where the spectacular countryside draws visitors every year in their hundreds. A passionate fan of the music of Vivaldi and Biber, Rachel Podger, who studied in Germany, demonstrates through her performances just how much the Red Priest's music (and her herself, following Biber) can cloak itself in the mysterious and bizarre, to the point that Vivaldi appears here as a distant descendant of the mannerists from the late Renaissance and early Baroque period. This is a particularly interesting and successful take.
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Symphonic Music - Released February 9, 2018 | Ondine

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‘Travel’ and ‘journey’ are often appropriate metaphors for the music of the Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür (b. 1959). The composer himself describes his viola concerto Illuminatio as a “pilgrimage towards eternal light”, and with his Symphony No. 8 he stresses the importance of a “constant sense of ‘being on the road’”. This says something essential about the dynamics, growth and development of his music. To take a broader view, Tüür’s entire career may be described as a journey: in the course of his professional life beginning in the 1980s, he has thoroughly revised and reformed his idiom and compositional precepts. His ambitious journey began in rock music while at the same time he was studying flute, percussion and composition at the Conservatory. Since 1992 he has been a freelance composer. In his early career, Tüür developed a ‘polystylistic’ approach that combined minimalist and tonal elements on the one hand, modernist features on the other, into an idiom where he juxtaposed elements from different and seemingly incompatible styles, seeking both contrasts and syntheses. In the early 2000s, he went through a transition that resulted in his new composition technique. Here, “the entire composition is encapsulated in a source code – a gene which, as it mutates and grows, connects the dots in the fabric of the whole work”. All the works on the present album are from this period. The core of Tüür’s output consists of extensive orchestral works (including nine symphonies and several concertos), chamber music and vocal works. Whereas the viola concerto can be compared to a journey, Whistles and Whispers from Uluru (2007) for recorder and chamber orchestra was inspired by a landscape and a sonority. The piece was written to a commission from the Australian Chamber Orchestra for recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey, who also plays on this album – several different recorders, from sopranino to bass. Some sonorities are enhanced by electronic means. When a composer has written nine symphonies, the genre is obviosuly very important for him. In the case of Tüür, the term ‘symphonic’ must be understood in a broad sense – not as a strict formal scheme, but rather as a uniquely shaped and independently formed structure in each work. Tüür’s symphonies form the hard core of his output, spanning the length of his career, the first dating from 1984 and the latest from 2017. The symphonies vary greatly in terms of form, ensemble and idiom. Symphony No. 8 was commissioned by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and was completed in 2010. Considering the resources of the commissioning party, Tüür scored the work for a sinfonietta-type ensemble instead of a large symphony orchestra, and as a result the music has at times a chamber music feel. © SM/Qobuz
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Symphonic Music - Released February 2, 2018 | Chandos

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No, no: we would never suggest that the music of the Swedish composer Dag Wirén (1905-1986) was in the slightest bit avant-garde. On the contrary, he always strove to write music which, while certainly novel, made for pleasant listening, without either dogma, or pedagogy, or a particular method. His oeuvre, more remarkable for its quality than its quantity, contains five symphonies, of which the Third from 1944 is presented here, and above all the renowned Divertimento for strings from 1957, in which one can discern the legacy of Grieg or Dvořák just as much as Honegger, whom Wirén venerated, or other musicians from the Group of Six; or indeed Shostakovitch in his more wily moments. The writing shares more than a few family resemblances with Jean Françaix, in its impeccable harmonic, thematic and architectural conceptions, all while retaining its light and transparent spirit. During his lifetime, his rejection of the avant-garde was a black mark against his name; but thirty years on from his death, this kind of consideration is no longer relevant. We can finally rediscover Wirén for what he is: an excellent composer. To cut a long story short, it was he who wrote the score to Absent Friend which was Sweden's entry for the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest – which was won by France Gall, under the flag of Luxembourg, and not of France, as it happens – Absent Friend was neither strictly pop, nor variety, but a piece of pure classical romance, a tragic waltz sung by a truly great operatic baritone, Ingvar Wixell, accompanied by an exclusively classical orchestra, without drums or anything of the sort! © SM/Qobuz
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Symphonic Music - Released February 2, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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In addition to Prokofiev’s two violin concertos – whose ample discography is brilliantly enriched by this interpretation of Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili and the excellent conductor Yannick Nézet-Seguin –, the album also features three treats from Prokofiev arranged by Tamás Batiashvili, the father of the aforementioned Lisa and a renowned teacher in his country. These are rewritings for solo violin and orchestra of the Dance Of The Knights from Romeo and Juliet, the Grand Waltz from Cinderella and the nefarious and quirky Grand March from The Love For Three Oranges. Batiashvili – the father – streamlines the message, allowing the solo violin to showcase its full power in moments that were bloated in the original partition, particularly in the rather bulky Dance Of The Knights which, losing some of its imposing weight, gained lyricism in return. As for the two concertos, they benefit greatly from the reasonably sized Chamber Orchestra of Europe, as it perfectly lets Prokofiev’s writing shine through. © SM/Qobuz
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Symphonic Music - Released January 5, 2018 | Chandos

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This much awaited recording offers keenly idiomatic performances of the most famous works by Grieg, played by the composer’s own orchestra, the Bergen Philharmonic, and its Chief Conductor, Edward Gardner. The drama and passion of such favourite pieces as the incidental music to Peer Gynt and the Piano Concerto are superbly captured in surround-sound with exemplary Chandos sound quality. Unlike most existing recordings, offering only the orchestral suites, this disc presents numerous extra excerpts from Peer Gynt, which follow the sequence of Henrik Ibsen‘s dramatic poem, including sections for the unique Norwegian "Hardanger Fiddle". Having collaborated with the orchestra on several occasions, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet is the soloist in the Piano Concerto, a piece that stands out as a shining example of a single great thought captured and expressed in music. The power of this conception is evident throughout the concerto in the pianist’s faithful, yet highly romantic interpretation. © Chandos
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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released January 5, 2018 | BIS

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Alfred Schnittke and Arvo Pärt have both lived through the intense decades of upheavals that preceded the fall of the Soviet Union. From the 1970s, religion returned to public life as restrictions around it were relaxed. Schnittke turned towards Christianity, while remaining open towards Eastern religions. Arvo Pärt, from a family of Lutheran Estonians, embraced the Orthodox faith in the 1970s. The two composers both began to incorporate religious themes into their work, moving decisively away from the modernist abstraction of their early work. Schnittke wrote three religious works of great power: a Requiem in 1975 which could only be played in secret, disguised (what ignominy...) as stage music in a Muscovite production of Schiller's Don Carlos. His Choir Concerto, also with a religious theme, was performed in Moscow in 1986 after overcoming a daunting series of bureaucratic obstacles. On the other hand, the Penitential Psalms were performed out in the open in 1988 in as part of celebrations to mark a thousand years of Christianity in Russia. The style of this immense masterpiece is in line with Orthodox liturgical tradition, but Schnittke extends traditional principles to create modern sounds - in particular, rhythmical and harmonic modifications, which lend the work an intense richness.   Like Schnittke's Penitential Psalms, the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis by Pärt are composed in a semi-liturgical style. The Magnificat dates back to one year after Schnittke's score was composed, in 1989. Pärt had been living in Berlin since 1981, where he refined his "tintinnabuli" technique. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir which plays here is one of Estonia's foremost chamber music ensembles. Founded in 1981, it has been directed by Kaspars Putniņš since 2014. Its choral repertoire stretches from Gregorian chant and baroque to more contemporary music, with a particular focus on the work of Estonian composers, which the Choir works hard to spread beyond the country's borders. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released December 1, 2017 | Aeolus

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Symphonic Music - Released October 6, 2017 | Chandos

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Vaughan Williams’ seventh symphony (1951), Sinfonia Antartica, reuses numerous materials from the stunning piece the composer wrote in 1948 for the film Scott of the Antarctic. Therefore none will be surprised by the extraordinarily visual orchestration and theme, which any listener – even ignoring the title or cinematographic influence – will immediately associate with vast windy flatlands, scintillating icy lights, Antarctica in all its splendour – and dangers, as Scott’s expedition ended tragically, that’s the least one can say. As a complement to the programme, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (where they are used to the great cold!) and Andrew Davis provide us with Vaughan Williams’s Concerto For Two Pianos: initially created in 1933 for a single piano, the work was adapted to two pianos in 1946 in light of the tremendous difficult piano part, and the composer also took the opportunity to change a few sections. Here it is performed by two Canadians, Louis Lortie and Hélène Mercier. And finally you’ll discover the Four Last Songs sung by Roderick Williams, a kind of Vaughanwilliamsian equivalent to Strauss’ own Four Last Songs, even though Vaughan Williams’ four songs were first orchestrated after his death, by Anthony Payne in 2013 – scrupulously following the composer’s orchestral habits. A beautiful musical testament, created during the last few months of his life. © SM/Qobuz
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Violin Solos - Released September 8, 2017 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica - Special Soundchecks - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Of course, since years Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin have been recorded over and over again, including by world’s best and most prestigious solists. But when violinist Christian Tetzlaff releases a brand new recording, we can only say: “Friends, countrymen, lend Qobuz your ears”. Concerts with Christian Tetzlaff often become an existential experience for interpreter and audience alike; old familiar works suddenly appear in an entirely new light, also – of course – within the frame of a new studio recording such as this one. Essential to Tetzlaff’s approach are the courage to take risks, technical brilliance, openness and alertness to life. Such an interpretation becomes a real challenge for the aficionado and guarantees a brilliant musical adventure.
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Solo Piano - Released September 1, 2017 | Warner Classics

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Fazil Say, who made his debut on this label with a very, very well-received work on Mozart’s Complete Piano Sonatas, is now turning his attention to Chopin, but a more confidential side of Chopin, much less virtuoso, the Chopin Nocturnes, the almost complete work of which he recorded in the Mozarteum Salzburg in March 2016. An “almost complete work” because the Nocturne in C-Sharp minor Op. 71/1 is missing, most likely due to CD running time restrictions as the total exceeded the limit by just a handful of seconds… Regardless the interpretation is dazzling and almost symphonic, taking these Nocturnes out of the hyper-romantic state of torpor they are so frequently plunged in by musicians. In addition to Chopin’s music, a few of Say’s short-lived grunts can also be heard who, much like Gould (albeit to a lesser extent), sometimes enjoys humming in the background. © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released September 1, 2017 | Alpha

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Classical - Released September 1, 2017 | Winter & Winter

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Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen's four quartets are presented here by the famous Arditti String Quartet, in reverse order of composition: the  Fourth (2012), the Third, (2008), the Second (1981) - you may have noticed the huge gap, which will make more sense once you know that between 1990 and 2000 he put down his pen and stopped composing altogether - and then the First (1973), which was written as "Ten Preludes". From his earliest days as a composer, Abrahamsen has shunned the avant-garde doctrines of the "Darmstadt School", preferring to learn from his teacher Ligeti, in a language he took to calling the "New Simplicity". When listening to these four works, one is indeed struck by Abrahamsen's ability to create recognisable lines, at once modern and very old, sometimes bearing the traces (real or imagined) of folk airs, with a clear love for the most keening moments; and putting harmonics to mind-blowing use. The listener will realised that they are in the presence of a highly original piece of music, modern for sure: but it doesn't require a forced intellectual effort – rather, it demands that the listener abandon themselves to the rich and captivating discourse of the four musicians of the Arditti Quartet. © SM/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released June 30, 2017 | Accentus Music

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