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What is a Qobuzissime? It’s an award presented by Qobuz for a first or second album.

Pop or Reggae, Metal or Classical, Jazz or Blues, no genre is excluded. More often than not the award is presented to a newly discovered artist.

Sometimes it might be a particularly quirky or a crossover album from a discography.

The important aspects are uniqueness, sincerity and quality. We look for these things in the recording, the project and the sound identity.





Albums

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Classical - Released February 28, 2020 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
The most striking aspect of these Preludes by Chopin undertaken by Eric Lu is the absolutely lyrical tranquility that dominates the forty-minute-long journey which is so arduous to build fluidly and coherently. Eric Lu deserves admiration for the expressive and polyphonic unity that he brings to the cycle, which is usually more contrasted. The American’s playing resounds as his phrases transport you on a grand, noble journey of emotion. Behind this soft façade is a somewhat more tragic melancholy, which increases over the course of the album and reveals the sombre, or at the very least anxious nature of the 24 Preludes. Chopin is at his darkest romanticism, not too far removed from the Schumann of the Kreisleriana (April 1838). It comes as no surprise that Lu continues his second recital for Warner Classics with one of Schumann’s strangest works, the Theme and Variations in E-flat major, composed in 1854 as a sort of swan song by the German romantic composer. In this tribute to masters of the past including Bach and Beethoven, Schumann risks using particularly stripped back polyphonies in rarefied pianissimo nuances; in doing so, Eric Lu creates a direct link with Chopin’s cycle, firmly remaining on the gentle and meditative side (Variations 2 and 5), without searching for any particular contrast. Placing fourth in the 2015 International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, where he already impressed with his rendition of the 24 Preludes, the young American pianist Eric Lu (born in 1997) delivers a captivating recital on this album, sometimes bewildering, but definitely the most accomplished of the three already published − the first was released on German label Genuin. This is definitely a musician to be followed very closely. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Duets - Released November 15, 2019 | Alpha

Hi-Res Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Qobuzissime
The final part of this intelligent and well-rounded triptych certainly deserves a Qobuzissime! It has been several years since we have been following this grandiose but relaxed duo, made up of violinist Lorenzo Gatto and pianist Julien Libeer. The Belgian pair have brought their complete collection of Beethoven’s sonatas for violin and piano to a close. There is a lot of spontaneity in this integral work, yet this freshness is not synonymous with offhandedness. On the contrary, the fruit of a well thought-out project, it unfolds as a thrilling story in three parts. The first volume opened like a stage curtain on this landmark of Beethoven with the iconic Kreutzer sonata, a strong score which trumps the expectations of the genre. The vehement drama of the first movement, slow and in a minor key, contrasts with the gentle nature of the second movement and confirms that the sonata is well and truly a format for two instruments on an equal footing and not just a support act to the piano, a Steinway in this instance.The second one delineated the milestones of an expanding genre. From the first to the last sonata, via the most popular nicknamed Spring, we bear witness to a general amplification of style. From Opus 12 to Opus 96, the form expands, the technical difficulty of playing increases and the light-hearted fun gives way to a more energetic rhetoric. For this second album, the duo chose the lustrous power of Chris Maene’s parallel-stringed piano. The instrument affords the necessary resonance to the interpretation of this sometimes outright zesty, sometimes tenderly subtle score.The third volume frames the Steinway’s radiance (Sonatas 6 and 7) with the more ample Maene piano (Sonatas 3 and 8) and is dedicated to the works conceived when the composer’s hearing began to falter. Paradoxically, this nightmare for Beethoven has brought about a gift for his listeners. Varied combinations of timbres, styles and character are constantly renewed in this cycle which Gatto and Libeer faithfully interpret throughout its entirety. Our award of recognition is also a retrospective on the first two milestones of this adventure which has valiantly held its promise. An important integral work to explore and encourage others to do so as well! © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Quartets - Released October 11, 2019 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica - Qobuzissime
Six quartets: six works that are key to understanding what Joseph Haydn brought to western music. This effort by the Quatuor Hanson is particularly successful because they are past masters in constructing and expressing the soul of this subtle art. And what's more, they bring it off with a fascinating level of instrumental skill. Listening to this piece, we have to bow down once again before the genius of a composer who, along with Boccherini, invented a new genre and immediately studded it with masterpieces of staggering quality. Judiciously picked out from among Haydn's vast corpus, these six quartets are touching both in their expressiveness and in the perfection of their writing. Not a single note out of place, a perfect balance of four voices and inspired right from the first moment up to the incomplete closing Opus 77, which was a contemporary of Beethoven's first Quartets, Op. 18 – works that betray the lessons their writer learned from his master. More than two hundred years after his death, Haydn has only just found recognition as one of the greats, although he had been accorded that status during his life. But his works for keyboards, the symphonies, the oratorios, and to a lesser extent, the operas, speak in his favour. More than a forerunner, Haydn is a founder, a genius whose influence was felt by those who came after him, foremost amongst whom Beethoven and Schubert. This splendid album puts him (back) in his rightful place. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released October 11, 2019 | Château de Versailles Spectacles

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
Bach celebrated his first Christmas in Leipzig (1723) in style. On the morning of 25 December, his cantata Christen, ätzet diesen Tag, BWV 63 resounded in the church of Saint Thomas. It opens and closes on a great choir, a perfect prelude to the Magnificat, BWV 243A played at afternoon vespers. The young conductor Valentin Tournet (23 years old!) is particularly interested in the lesser- known aspects of Bach's great works. And so for his ensemble's first release, he has chosen to record the first version of the Magnificat. Written in E-Flat Major, a great key for horns, this score prefers recorders, with their pastoral timbre, to traverso flutes. Much less-played and - recorded than the revised version of 1743 (in D Major and numbered BWV 243), this score is offered here alongside four laude for the Nativity. Valentin Tournet brings courage and talent to these works and presents us with a particularly brilliant version, thanks to well-made, judicious choices. A viol player, he is sensitive to the vital energy which the cello unleashes, provided that it isn't overpowered by the organ (a positive organ has been selected for this reason). The piece's élan is all the greater because the soloists don't restrict themselves to their own arias, but mix with the choir. The continuity is total, and the emotion is truly collective. © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Lieder (German) - Released May 31, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Qobuzissime
Born in a small Norwegian village in 1987 (and is thus inevitably compared to her long-time compatriot Kirsten Flagstad), soprano Lise Davidsen was almost built to embody Wagnerian and Straussian heroines. For her first record under the label Decca, with whom she has signed an exclusive contract, she has chosen to present several facets of femininity in the vocal stylings of Elisabeth (Tannhäuser), Ariane (Ariane à Naxos) and… Pauline. Pauline being Richard Strauss’ beloved wife to whom he dedicated many Lieder from his opus 27 - the 1894 cycle offered to his wife as a wedding gift - until the last Vier letzte Lieder in 1948.Under the supple baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Philharmonic Orchestra embraces the brassy voice of the Norwegian soprano with finesse and elegance. As you will see, this record, with its carefully devised programme, oscillates between youth and old age, in the presence of ghosts and death. You may wonder how one can express mortality at just 30 years old with such a powerful timbre, radiant health and a whole life ahead of you. The answer lies in Lise Davidsen’s voice, which upsurges as if it were a promise of immortality, the music of the last Strauss piece returning one last time to its past, to a Europe in ruins.Discovered in 1984, after the death of the singer and dedicatee Maria Jeritza, Malven (“The Mallows") is Richard Strauss’ true “last song”. Lighter in tone than the Vier letzte Lieder to which it might have belonged, it is presented here in an orchestration by Wolfgang Rihm. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released April 5, 2019 | Signum Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime - Grammy Awards
This spectacular new release of Maurice Duruflé’s complete choral output uncovers hidden gems of French classical music. Infused with modal harmonies and plainsong, Maurice Duruflé's choral works look back to Gregorian chant. The composer also found inspiration in the likes of Gabriel Fauré and Claude Debussy, incorporating definite lines and close harmonies into his music, and the result is astonishingly simple. His works were part of a whole stylistic movement in the 20th century (one that was far removed from neoclassicism) that tried to trace music back to its origins, separating itself from all the trappings of theatre and performance, and moving away from the highly abstract tendencies that characterised much of the music in the post-war period. Is Gregorian chant the “mother” of all music? Quite possibly. Duruflé aimed to create a serene, gentle mood all the while echoing a contemporary trend, one that was still emerging yet already rather developed, centred around harmony and floating atmospheres in the hope of bringing people together in communion. With little to show by way of recordings yet much by way of talent, the Houston Chamber Choir give a beautiful performance of the French composer's works. Their radiant singing is well worth discovering, made all the more breathtaking by the generous acoustics of the Edythe Bates Old Recital Hall at Rice University, which allow the conductor Robert Simpson to use broad phrasings. The conductor adds an especially touching quality to these naturally expressive works, making this recording – which is as moving as the composer's earlier recordings (Erato) - an ideal gateway into Duruflé’s hypnotic universe (Messe “Cum Jubilo”). It should be noted that despite his relatively long life, Duruflé’s composed only fourteen works. His final composition Notre Père (which lasts just ninety seconds!) was written especially for the Catholic Church though was never performed due to its sheer difficulty. This modest number of compositions reflects Duruflé’s crippling self-criticism and continuous search for perfection. This Houston Chamber Choir recording is a wonderful opportunity to rediscover one of the best kept secrets of the 20th century. © Qobuz
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Opera Extracts - Released October 5, 2018 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Qobuzissime
For her first recital with orchestra album, young Franco-Danish soprano Elsa Dreisig had the idea of presenting five pairs of songs in which each part of the pair is ambiguously related to the other, like a mirror’s reflection. This process leads to striking juxtapositions of different musical styles, dramatic moments, historical periods and contrasting voices; classicism and romanticism complement each other, terror answers joy, and the result is a view of the feminine soul all its facets. The first pairing involves two mirrors: the one in which Marguerite from Gounod's Faust admires herself and Thaïs's mirror in Massenet's opera (Thaïs). There follows Puccini's vision of Manon Lescaut, and then Manon (sans Lescaut) as imagined by Massenet. Following this we have Juliette, this is a rather daring pairing of the largely-forgotten early romantic German composer Daniel Steibelt with Gounod's Juliette. Elsa Dreisig then moves onto the two famous Figaros, one from Rossini's Barber (Rosina) and the other from Mozart's Marriage, with the gentle tones of the Countess. Finally, and more daring still, we end with the Salome of the Hérodiade by Massenet, a tender young woman who is not after anyone's head; and then Strauss's Salome, with her sanguinary madness. Probably in order to avoid the temptation of comparisons with other recordings, our singer has opted for the 1907 French version – note that this work by Oscar Wilde was itself originally written in French. This is the most extraordinary selection that one could hope for in a first recording from any artist, all accompanied by the Montpelier Orchestra, conducted by Michael Schønwandt. © SM/Qobuz
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Opera Extracts - Released September 28, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Qobuzissime
The first solo album from the excellent youngster Julien Behr, who has already played at the Paris Opéra, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the Bordeaux and Lyon Opera Houses and cities such as Salzburg, Vienna, London, Cologne and many other great venues as well as making recordings of various lyrical works including L’Enfant et les sortilèges with Bavarian Radio. As debut albums go, he has made a daring choice in selecting some of the more unknown areas of French opera rather than the more popular pieces from Don José, Romeo, Faust and other big names. Instead, he has taken some gems from the Romantic repertoire (if we extend it up to the First World War for the sake of argument) which are little-heard of. From Gounod, he has selected Cinq-Mars ; from Bizet, La Jolie fille de Perth (one of Bizet's most exquisite passages); from Thomas, Mignon; and then, better-known but still uncommon, Léhar The Merry Widow; Godard, Jocelyn; and Delibes Lakmé. His diction is utterly impeccable; his transparent and airy voice evokes Heddle Nach or Jussi Björling, which serves the repertoire perfectly. The album closes with a few hits from the Romantic repertoire such as Vous qui passez sans me voir by Charles Trenet – well, the lyrics are from the Fou chantant, while the music is by Johnny Hess and Paul Misraki, and the song was originally written for Jean Sablon – evidence of Behr's love of lighter genres, for sure. . © SM/Qobuz
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Full Operas - Released June 22, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - Qobuzissime - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Why yes, it is still possible to discover Bernstein scores, or in this case the chamber version of A Quiet Place, adapted by Garth Edwin Sunderland, conducted and recorded for the first time by Kent Nagano, at the Montreal Symphony House. The final stage score by the American composer, first performed at the Houston Grand Opera in 1983, it was revisited by the librettist Stephen Wadsworth, and the composer who added several fragments from the one-act piece Trouble in Tahiti, from 1951; this addition would see two new performances (the Scala in Milan, and Washington). Another draft – this one definitive – was performed at the Vienna Opera House, conducted by the composer, in 1986. Fascinating in more ways than one, rather like a modern-day Intermezzo by Strauss, the work depicts American society by way of an existential crisis faced, first by one couple, (Trouble in Tahiti) and then by one family. Bernstein borrowed from Mahler for the structure, with a final movement whose "grave nobility" recalled the final movements of the Third and NinthSymphonies by his much-admired forebear. As is often the case with this composer, Bernstein's mix of styles (jazz, chorale, Broadway, Mahler, Berg, Britten, Copland…) provides an explosive cocktail, which has about it more of a musical conversation than grand opera – and, paradoxically, that's what makes this work so unique... And so charming. This is well worth a re-discovery, this time under the baton of Bernstein's faithful former pupil, Kent Nagano, at the head of top-flight solo singers, who point the way to that "quiet place", where "love will teach us harmony and grace". © Franck Mallet/Qobuz
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Classical - Released May 11, 2018 | Arts & Crafts Productions Inc.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
A 31 year-old Canadian, Jean-Michel Blais is no stranger to the neoclassical stage. After a first album bearing the sober title "II", on Caroline Distribution, this offering consists of a new collection of tracks, (most of which have already been released separately over recent weeks) which are possessed of an irrepressible lyricism. On board his piano, which he has transformed into a magical music box, he travels with the winds, following the currents of his own insatiable creativity. In the middle, Blind, perhaps the most seductive track of these forty-five minutes (alongside sourdine…), immerses us in an ideal vision of a music which mixes acoustics and machines into a soothing and velvety whole. god(s) takes us somewhere else, to church perhaps: but the return of synths shows that Jean-Michel Blais might perhaps have different gods in mind. igloo could have been a spiritual, even pantheist, track, but Blais, who isn't above a little caustic wit, is quite urban about it: the "igloo" in question is a reference to contemporary cities, full of "caverns", where everything is stacked over everything else. Henceforth, Blais's name will be synonymous with unique sonic flavours. But there is something here of that bitter, fraternal, soft and sensual melancholy that runs through much of North American music, and which permeates the sonic spaces of a Copland (Quiet City) or a Bernard Herrmann (Les Neiges du Kilimandjaro) and the obstinate figures of a Steve Reich (The Four Sections) or the curling wisps of one of the most imaginative representatives of Canadian pop, like Patrick Watson ― think of the latter's Lighthouse where we find that same vision of the instrument, as if stripped of its hammers. Jean-Michel Blais takes his time, discreetly. Under his elegant veneer, he knows how to be tenacious: his quotations (from the entrancingly slow movement of Rachmaninov's Second Concerto, for example, on roses) make for salutary and soothing escapes. Blais is holding out his hand to you. It would be rude to turn him down. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/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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Symphonic Music - Released November 3, 2017 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Qobuzissime - 5 étoiles de Classica
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 qualityThe 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
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Classical - Released September 29, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica - Qobuzissime - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
For their first recording, the Arod Quartet has selected Mendelssohn, one of the pillars of the quartet's art, in particular his masterpiece, the Fourth Quartet in E Minor of June 1837 - more Mozartian than Beethovian in its structure and development, to be sure, even if it bears Mendelssohn's hallmark from the first note to the last. To find the influence of the deaf genius, we have to look in the Second Quartet Op. 13 of 1827, a work written shortly after Beethoven's death, the full extent of whose innovations Mendelssohn was only just discovering. The Arod Quartet continues its album with Four Pieces for Quartet, assembled posthumously and numbered Op. 81 by Mendelssohn's successor at the Gewandhaus, Julius Rietz, and based on four disparate pieces from various eras. Finally, the album closes with the Arod's re-interpretaton of a Lied, sung here by Marianne Crebassa, whose theme takes in several passages from Beethoven note for note, a real homage from the young composer to his illustrious elder. It’s worth noting that the Arod Quartet, only founded in 2013, has shot to global prominence, having performed at the Paris Philharmonic, the Louvre Auditorium, the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, the Metz Arsenal, and further afield the Salzburg Mozarteum, the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Zurich Tonhalle, London's Wigmore Hall, as well as in Tokyo, Finland, Switzerland... the list goes on! © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released September 1, 2017 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
"Handel goes wild", that’s putting it mildly: in Christina Pluhar’s album, he goes wild to quite some extremes! Indeed the Austrian harpist, theorbist, and lute player picked a handful of Handel’s (and a bit of Vivaldi’s) arias, concerto movements and overtures, and put them not only in the hands of baroque musicians of the L’Arpeggiata Ensemble, but also of half a dozen jazz musicians of various styles. The result is a reinterpretation, in turn gypsy, Klezmer, salsa, New Orleans jazz, lounge, blues and so on, that everyone can either love or hate depending on their own degree of adaptability. Undeniably using a clarinet and piano in this language can be confusing for some… But Pluhar’s approach is simple: Handel himself reused, reshaped, tinkered, disguised, ransacked and rewrote, using both the works of other composers and his own, always with his own personal approach and the most immediate style of his time. So why not do the same nowadays?! In any case, this mixture of baroque instruments and voices with 20th-century instruments and genres is breathtaking. The artists invited include clarinettist Gianluigi Trovesi, pianist Francesco Turrisi and bass player Boris Schmidt in the field of jazz, but also countertenor Valer Barna-Sabadus and soprano Nuria Rial. © SM/Qobuz
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released April 14, 2017 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
The Vespers for the Blessed Virgin by Monteverdi – Vespro della Beata Vergine – is, so to speak, a work made up of many works. The composer seems to have put everything he had into this piece, which appeared in Venice in 1610. It is as if he wanted to use it as an immense catalogue of all his skills: his facility with ancient and modern styles; with the strict and the flamboyant; with instrumentals, vocals, choruses, solos, parody masses, the magnificat, psalms... Perhaps he wanted to use the work as a CV in Venice, where he would indeed land a job as choirmaster in 1613? The fact that several passages are written for two choirs would seem to support this idea. Elaborate job application or not, in this work Monteverdi has produced one of his most durable masterpieces, which forms a bridge between the late Renaissance - with passages taken from prima practica, the style developed by Palestrina - and the nascent Baroque style, and its seconda practica which was so dear to Monteverdi, and which would free the use of dissonance from its old straitjacket. For this recording, Giuseppe Maletto has brought together the rich talents of La Compagnia del Madrigale and the Cantica Symphonia and La Pifarescha ensembles, because it takes a whole lot of talent to give the Vespers the treatment it deserves.
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Classical - Released February 14, 2017 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
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Full Operas - Released January 20, 2017 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Qobuzissime
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Classical - Released October 26, 2016 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Qobuzissime
The graphics clarify the rather curious title of this release by French mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa. This is a collection of arias for what are referred to in the English translation of the booklet notes by the rare term "travesty roles," but are better known as "pants roles." The main strength of the album is the program: Crebassa starts with some Mozart examples, not all of them terribly familiar, and moves forward through the Romantic era as far as Reynaldo Hahn. The album might even serve as an anthology of the pants role, and a college course devoted to gender and music could easily take this album and run with it. Crebassa finds some marvelously sensuous arias, such as one from Ambroise Thomas' Psyché (1857), which is little known outside France. Sample this aria to hear both the collection and Crebassa's rather sharp-edged voice at its best. She seems a bit mechanical in the Italian-language arias but often puts the French material across convincingly. The contributions of the Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg under Marc Minkowski are a major plus, as is the engineering, executed on the orchestra's home ground. An offbeat choice, recommended for those who enjoy this rather intimate corner of the operatic repertory. © TiVo
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Opera - Released October 7, 2016 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Qobuzissime
As Mozart wrote to his father in 1778: "I love it when an aria fits a singer as perfectly as a suit". This, by reasoning, means that virtually all of his greatest melodies – for both prima donna and secondary (supporting) roles - were designed for a specific type of voice. This means that anyone who wants to tackle numerous Mozart roles must know how to adapt their suit accordingly – no simple task, to say the least. Swiss soprano coloratura Regula Mühlemann, with her sumptuous, clear and precise vocals, has perfectly adapted to all of these melodies, as well as the wide range of genres, styles and characters explored. Among the works, one will find Exultate, Jubilate and also a melody that Mozart had written to be inserted in The Barber of Seville by Paisiello, although this did not materialize and Mozart left the work unfinished. Regula Mühlemann, whom we have already witnessed in Salzburg, Berlin, Paris, Zurich, and many other prestigious cities and settings, is accompanied here by the Basel Chamber Orchestra conducted by Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli, the nephew of famous Italian pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. © SM / Qobuz
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Classical - Released September 16, 2016 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Pianiste Maestro - Choc de Classica - Qobuzissime