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Solo Piano - Released September 7, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice

Solo Piano - Released September 11, 2015 | Sony Classical

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While Glenn Gould's 1955 debut recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations has attained legendary status, there are many devoted fans who rank the 1981 recording just as highly, even though it offers a dramatically different interpretation. This album was made shortly before the pianist's premature death at age 50, so it is significant for being his last recording; indeed, the opening measures of the Aria are carved on Gould's headstone, in final recognition of the work's importance to him, so these two recordings may be regarded as bookends to the pianist's extraordinary career. Gould's tempos are slower and more measured in the 1981 performance, and the observance of some repeats here also differs from the earlier version. On the whole, the 1981 performance is reflective and carefully considered, in contrast with the technical brilliance and impulsive energy of the first. Gould's background humming is common to both Goldbergs, and even though the technology existed at the time of this recording to remove it, Gould kept it in, for fear of losing the piano's full sound. This eccentricity may be off-putting to some listeners, but there are so many fine points in Gould's playing that it must be overlooked to appreciate the true value of his playing and his understanding of Bach, which is original by any standard. Columbia's reproduction is crisp and clear, in keeping with Gould's wishes.

Chamber Music - Released August 17, 2018 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
What do you mean, “Six evolutions”? It’s an intriguing title, almost esoteric… The cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who needs no introduction after a worldwide career of some fifty years, pens here his third (and ultimate, according to him) recording of Bach’s Solo Cello Suites. The first, while he was in his twenties, gave rise to enthusiasm, the second—in his forties—gave rise to emotion, so what will this final vision give rise to, now that he is in his late sixties? Serenity and joy, probably, and the completion of a triple discographic evolution. That being said, we still cannot explain the “Six evolutions”, and you will have to dive into a small corner of the accompanying booklet to find an indication, giving little more information, it is true, since it comes with no clarification: 1) Nature is at play, 2) Journey toward the light, 3) Celebration, 4) Construction/Development, 5) The struggle for hope, and 6) Epiphany. Well… Whatever it be, and despite what he said—and the amazing quality of this interpretation—let’s meet in 2038 to find out if he doesn’t decide to give a new interpretation in his eighties! © SM/Qobuz

Classical - Released October 7, 2016 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Award - Gramophone Record of the Month - Le Choix de France Musique
Approaching age 70, American pianist Murray Perahia moves with this release from his longtime home of Sony Classical, formerly Columbia Masterworks, to Deutsche Grammophon. The set of Bach's six French Suites, BWV 812-817, was recorded in a Berlin studio in 2013, but did not appear until three years later. This probably testifies to the complexity of the move, but whatever the case, the wait has been worth it. Perahia has long been a marvelous Bach pianist, but the French Suites perhaps display his skills especially well. The "French suites" designation was applied by later writers, not by Bach himself, but they do capture something of the music, even if the dances involved were as much Italian as French by the time Bach composed them in 1722. They apply deep counterpoint to dance rhythms, and Perahia's genius resides not in some great overarching concept of how to play Bach but in finding the balance between disparate elements in a work, and in finding the human warmth in the result. Each movement is distinctive; each moment unfolds something new. You could really start sampling anywhere, but try the final gigue of the second suite, in C minor, where the little ornaments that form the central feature of the movement each take on a rather eerie individual significance. Perahia avoids extremes of tempo, and his extremely detailed approach could be called intellectual, but only if that word did not denote a certain coolness: Perahia is never cool. A wonderful Bach recording of the sort that one will return to again and again.

Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released March 9, 2018 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released October 12, 2018 | ECM New Series

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Cantatas (sacred) - Released September 21, 2018 | Phi

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For the fourth time on the Phi label, Philippe Herreweghe presents three cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach – Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4, Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild, BWV 79, and Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 80. Written at different moments in the composer’s life and based to a large extent on the works of Martin Luther, these cantatas reflect a marked taste for dramaturgy, vivid word painting and an invariably astonishing use of instruments and voices. Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent give us an accomplished version of these masterpieces, confirming, if further proof were needed, their stature as ardent champions of Bach. © Outhere Music

Chamber Music - Released March 11, 2011 | harmonia mundi

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc du Monde de la Musique - 4F de Télérama

Solo Piano - Released October 11, 2007 | Mirare

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica

Cantatas (sacred) - Released May 25, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Bach's "Dialogue Cantatas" generally portrayed Jesus in dialogue with the human soul, first tormented and then at peace. The three cantatas selected here by Berlin's Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, which has, over the years since 1982 (with over a million records sold!) brought together musicians from the city's different orchestras – first those under Soviet rule and then all orchestras following the fall of the Wall – are a part of this genre; all date from the great Leipzig period, specifically the third cycle written by Bach for Leipzig in 1726. It will come as no surprise, hearing these cantatas, that the essence of the first arias is desperate, heart-rending: and as they go on, they move towards relief and joy. It is in these first moments that we see Bach at his most intense, most pained, most chromatic, terribly modern as well as at his most romantic, profoundly lyrical and yet rigorous in the musical discourse. The most superbly original piece is surely the Cantata BWV 49, which begins with a Sinfonia with obbligato organ – in which the listener will recognise the final movement of the Harpsichord Concerto in E Major, when Bach recycled it a dozen years later – and continues with an aria with cello and oboe, both soloists immersed in the soprano's joyous voice; and we finish on a magnificent chorale with an aria – the aria being for the bass of the solo organ, while the soprano part sings the chorale's theme from on high: a staggering display of modernity. © SM/Qobuz

Cantatas (sacred) - Released February 16, 2018 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte
The cantata Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe (Jesus gathered the twelve to Himself) BWV 22, holds a historic place in Bach’s work. Indeed he composed it while still in Köthen, as an audition piece for the position of Thomaskantor in Leipzig, and then conducted it on February 7th, 1723, maybe even singing the bass part himself. Famously the city council, unable to convince its preferred composers – Telemann, Graupner and two others –, decided to settle with “mediocre” Bach… The gospel of the day first announces his death and his resurrection by Christ and his disciplines. A modest orchestra: voices, strings, one oboe and continuo, but the musical content is – like in almost all of Bach’s cantatas – amongst the best he’s ever written. For the same celebration, Bach composed a new cantata the following year, Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott (Lord Jesus Christ, true Man and God) BWV 127. But it has almost nothing in common with the previous piece: here Bach offers a very impressive reflection on physical death. Throughout his cantatas he called for a blessed death to free himself from the vicissitudes of life on Earth, but this now reveals how much he may have feared physical death itself. The aria ”Die Seele ruht” is one of these sublime moments suspended in time, an ineffable tintinnabulum, in which the soprano and the oboe dialogue on a harrowing theme while the flutes and string pizzicatos symbolise the passing of time with incredible beauty. Finally it’s with Die Elenden sollen essen (The miserable shall eat) BWV 75 that Bach started off his work in Leipzig, in St. Nicholas Church this time, as the cantatas were alternately performed in both churches. Probably because he wanted to start with a bang, he designed this cantata on a huge scale: fourteen numbers, divided in two parts. Of course Bach would have never been able to produce such vast and powerful partitions on a weekly basis, but there is a real substance to this Passion… and it’s with great passion that Philippe Pierlot, his Ricercar Consort and the soloists perform these masterpieces. © SM/Qobuz

Classical - Released July 31, 2007 | harmonia mundi

Philippe Herreweghe's Bach performances are like no others: spiritual and deeply felt, but also scholarly, and thoroughly thought-through. They sound collaborative, with the vocal soloists given plenty of liberty, but they also give the impression that there is a singular will shaping the performance into a unified and wholly individualistic reading. Even the tone of the period instruments is subtly different: warm yet pungent, colorful yet blended, sometimes sweet, but more often tart. Listeners familiar with the Bach of Gardiner or Harnoncourt may at first be challenged by Herreweghe's approach, but the power of his performances may win them over. In this 1998 Harmonia Mundi recording of the Matthäus-Passion, tenor Ian Bostridge's account of the central role of the Evangelist is slightly to the left of center, more emotionally expressive, and more rhythmically pliable than most, but Herreweghe's interpretation can easily accommodate him. Collegium Vocale Gents' performance is equally distinctive, rounder but more penetrating in tone than most small choirs, with a blend at once richer and more astringent. Behind them all is Herreweghe, molding the performances with a sure hand, pressing toward the overwhelming climax of the crucifixion and the choral finale that follows. Captured in lush digital sound, this performance may not be for everyone, but it is likely to find many admirers.

Classical - Released October 5, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Record of the Month
A student of the last student of Ysaÿe, American violinist Hilary Hahn has played Bach's solo violin music since she was nine, and inaugurated her recording career seven years later with a recording of half the cycle of six, in 1997. That recording rightly won acclaim with its flawless technique and Apollonian lines straight out of the best of the French violin school. Uniquely, she has returned to complete the set 21 years later, and the results are marvelous. It's sometimes hard to pin down the ways in which Hahn's style has changed, but it has to do with a kind of inner relaxation, with a willingness to let the meter vary a bit and pick it up again in the longer line. The flawless tone is still there, but it's not so much an end in itself. It's not an accident that some of the graphics picture Hahn smiling, nor that her quite relevant notes to the album detail the long creative process that went into making it. Sample anywhere, but you could try the very beginning, the first movement of the Sonata for solo violin No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001, where Hahn takes just a bit of time, draws you in, and lets the rest of the movement flow from there. Decca's engineers do excellent work in a Bard College auditorium that one might not have picked as a venue for this. A superb release from one of the preeminent violinists of our time.

Duets - Released January 12, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - 5 étoiles de Classica
The six Sonatas for Violin and Obbligato Harpsichord BWV 1014-1019 (“obbligato” – compulsory – means the keyboard is fully scored, as opposed to basso continuo for which only the bass is scored, the rest being left to the discretion of the performer, who improvises) are some of these works that Bach kept revisiting and reworking. The oldest remaining source – from around 1725, through one of his nephews – already highlights the will to make these compositions evolve by refining them with successive adjustments. The work underwent another overhaul in Agricola’s manuscript, around 1741, while a copy made around 1750 by Altnickol reveals a third cycle status. An observation made by the musician’s second youngest son, Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach – “He wrote these trios just before his end” – seems to have been interpreted as proof that Bach was still working on these sonatas in the last years of his life. This new recording by Isabelle Faust, a great specialist of baroque interpretation, and Christian Bezuidenhout on the harpsichord, discretely reveals the extraordinary richness of these works’ three-voice writing, that resembles the format of a trio sonata. © SM/Qobuz

Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released October 13, 2017 | SDG

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Le Choix de France Musique - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
So much can be said about this new recording featuring among others − but as the pièce de résistance − Bach’s Magnificat, performed by John Eliot Gardiner, that we simply don’t know where to start! In 1983 – already 35 years ago! – Gardiner gave his first vision of Magnificat BWV 234 in D major; here the version in question is the BWV 234a in E flat major, the original and initial version, the – extended – one Bach wrote as soon as 1723 while the BWV 234 version (more often played nowadays) only arose from adjustments made ten years later. Of course one can debate on the advantages of one over the other but for this recording, Gardiner put emphasis on the brilliance, vibrancy and stunning virtuosity imposed by the E-flat major tone and vigorous tempi, in other words: undeniably modern! Magnificat is preceded by the Mass in F major, one of Bach’s four Lutheran masses, proper gems that are too rarely performed. It’s worth noting that most movements are recycled from previous cantatas, but with thorough rewrites of course! You’ll also find one of Gardiner’s favourite cantatas, Süßer Trost, mein Jesus kömmt (Sweet comfort, my Jesus comes), BWV 151, composed for the Christmas period. With his English Baroque Soloists, his Monteverdi Choir and a broad group of soloists (the alto parts are given to a male voice, it’s worth mentioning in case… it’s not your cup of tea), Gardiner is once again standing on top of a great success.

Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released October 7, 2013 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - Hi-Res Audio

Classical - Released October 9, 2015 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
The pianist Alexandre Tharaud reportedly withdrew for months from concert life to prepare for this recording of Bach's monumental Goldberg Variations, BWV 988. His efforts are evident in the performance, in which every variation has some carefully considered turn. What keeps the performance from seeming fussy is Tharaud's attention to overall architecture, which is original and even bold. He is circumspect in the earlier variations, playing precisely and a bit deliberately. The work's climaxes come not in the slow variations in the later part of the work, which here are more nocturnes than mysterious oracles that seek to break on through to the other side, but in the faster variations, whose increasing contrapuntal density is unerringly detailed and spun into colors of deeper brilliance. It's hard to pick out one variation that gives the flavor of a performance as well-woven as this one, but sample the later canons, where Tharaud's left hand radiates forth brilliantly. Fine sound from Erato/Warner Classics engineers, working at the Aix-en-Provence Conservatory, is a major attraction, as is the presence of a DVD that shows Tharaud's intense concentration memorably. A major breakthrough for this artist, and a worthwhile Goldberg Variations by any standard.

Classical - Released June 15, 2018 | RCA Red Seal

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Classical - Released April 14, 2011 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Hi-Res Audio

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 - Exceptional sound - 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.