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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 - Exceptional Sound Recording - 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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Concertos - Released July 3, 2015 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
There are numerous recordings of Bach's concertos avec plusieurs instruments, or with several instruments, as he called them. Posterity has labeled them double and triple concertos, but Bach's characterization lends support to Rachel Podger's interpretation here, which is based on the supposition that Bach's orchestra in such works consisted of one instrument per part. There are still many objections to this idea, beginning with the fact that the concertos of Vivaldi that served as Bach's model were demonstrably played by larger forces (Rousseau called the ensemble at the Ospedale della Pietà a "great orchestra"). However, if you want to try out Podger's playing, or the one-instrument-per-part approach, or historically oriented performance in general, this release (or its companion album of violin concertos) makes a good starting point. Podger, who has emerged as one of the leading Baroque violin players in Britain, is altogether appealing here, interacting almost playfully with her partner soloists and her hand-picked and -developed Brecon Baroque ensemble, and delivering sober slow movements that correctly prize contrapuntal detail. The one-instrument-per-part idea is especially defensible in these concertos even if you don't buy it general; Bach even called the Concerto for two violins in D minor, BWV 1043, a "concerto a sei," concerto for six. The Baroque-era instruments have wonderful timbres that define the constantly shifting textures of this music (its primary appeal) beautifully, and the Challenge Classics engineering team gets a big sound out of London's St. John the Evangelist church without booming resonance or stodgy cathedral hollowness. Very well done on all counts. © TiVo
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Sacred Oratorios - Released March 4, 2014 | SDG

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Exceptional Sound Recording
After the completion of the magisterial touring sequence of Bach cantatas from conductor John Eliot Gardiner and his Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, it seems that the prolific music-making will continue with non-cantata works. This strong recording of Bach's Easter Oratorio, BWV 249, was released just in time for the 2014 Easter holiday and should find the same demand as the rest of Gardiner's output. The Easter Oratorio is more an oversized cantata than a full-scale treatment with narrator, chorus, and soloists in the manner of Bach's other large religious works; it has no narrating Evangelist, consists mostly of solos in dialogue with each other, and apparently was actually adapted from an earlier pastoral birthday cantata. The performance here has the positives typical of Gardiner's Bach recordings: warmth, deep familiarity with the texts, and smooth ensemble work born of long acquaintance among the musicians. The choir of 23 is perfectly sized for the work, and the sound, with Gardiner's engineers no longer constrained by the requirements of the churches where the ensemble appeared on tour, is unusually clear. The soloists are drawn from the choir, a slight negative given that the Easter Oratorio stands or falls on its solos; they actually do better in the intimate funeral Cantata No. 106, BWV 106 ("Actus Tragicus"), that opens the program. In general, though, this is a release that Gardiner fans will be glad to have. © TiVo
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Choirs (sacred) - Released May 26, 2011 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
In this exemplary recording of six Bach motets Philippe Herreweghe leads Collegium Vocale Ghent (an ensemble that includes both singers and instrumentalists) and ten soloists in performances of exceptional finesse and elegance. That's no easy task given the dense contrapuntal textures that characterizes several of the motets written for double chorus and orchestra. It takes great skill to keep the music, in a movement like the opening to "Singet dem Herr ein neues Lied," from turning into a murky undifferentiated stew of busyness, but Herreweghe keeps the sound open and varied. One crucial element is the absolutely pristine intonation and pure tone of the singers, which makes the harmonies clear and distinct. Herreweghe's graceful shaping of the phrases creates the sense of overlapping waves rising and falling rather than a monolithic wall of sound. The choruses' discipline in their precise observance of producing matching vowels is another factor that allows the intricacies of the music to come across as clean and well-defined. Although it is scored it for the same forces, in Komm, Jesu, komm Bach works with gleaming, transparent textures, where the felicities of Herreweghe's leadership and the refinement of the soloists, choruses, and orchestra are even more clearly in evidence. His attention to the emotional content of the piece gives the music a powerfully yearning warmth that, in spite of the large number of performers, feels intensely intimate. The engineers deserve much credit for creating such a carefully balanced aural environment, where details pop with amazing clarity and the sound is at the same time warm and enveloping. This is a release best experienced on a sound system that provides optimal separation and definition. Highly recommended; these are performances that should delight and dazzle fans of Baroque choral music. © TiVo
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Classical - Released September 24, 2012 | Evil Penguin Classic

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording
OK, are you ready for something completely different? From someone who has already recorded two complete sets of Bach's six suites for solo cello, BWV 1007-1012, no less? Where to begin? Dutch historical-performance specialist Pieter Wispelwey disregards the long performance tradition associated with these six suites, which seem like cousins to Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin but are actually quite different in character (there are no sonatas, for one thing). Even players of the Baroque cello sometimes seem to have Pablo Casals' magisterial recordings in their heads, but Casals is not in the building at all for these readings. They seem to rest on three principles. First and foremost, Wispelwey has drawn on Baroque theories of rhetoric in constructing his interpretation. These were certainly in the air when Bach composed these works, although why they should apply specifically to the cello suites is less clear. Each phrase in Wispelwey's reading is like a spoken utterance. Notes are cleanly cut off, with very little legato, and the tempo is freely varied as speech might be. Second, Wispelwey's tempi are unorthodox in the extreme, tending mostly toward the fast side. Plunge in and sample the opening movement of the Suite for solo cello in G major, BWV 1007, for an idea of what you're getting into here. Third, although Wispelwey is not the first performer to de-emphasize the dance rhythms in these suites, he diverges from them to an unusual degree. Each of the dance movements is almost a character piece in the vein of Couperin, but with an entirely different set of instrumental textures. Throw in growling cello textures due to A=392 tuning, said to be authentic to the city of Köthen where the suites were written, and you get extremely un-song-like utterances throughout. It may all seem to add up to something with only a passing resemblance to what Bach wrote, but Wispelwey has the chops to pull this off, and there's an appealing sense of drilling deep into the music here. The sound from the ominously named Evil Penguin label, way too close up, is a disincentive even so, and this is probably not a good choice for those new to the music. Listeners will ultimately have to make up their own minds about this experiment, but it commands attention. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 5, 2013 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
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Solo Piano - Released February 10, 2017 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Cantatas (sacred) - Released January 28, 2014 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - 4 étoiles Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released February 25, 2013 | naïve classique

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released September 25, 2012 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released October 6, 2014 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording
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Chamber Music - Released September 1, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique - Exceptional Sound Recording
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Classical - Released April 15, 2016 | La Dolce Volta

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording
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Classical - Released October 27, 2011 | Zig-Zag Territoires

Booklet Distinctions Pianiste Maestro - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording
The novelty contained in this recording goes a good deal deeper than the wacky graphics that seem to have become the norm for French Baroque music releases. French harpsichordist Blandine Rannou, playing a 1988 replica of a powerful Ruckers instrument, puts to rest, perhaps permanently, the idea that harpsichord interpretations of the towering Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, are inherently less dramatic, irregular, and expressive than those played on a modern piano. From the beginning Rannou's performance is unexpected, with the opening aria clocking in at amost seven minutes. It is as if Rannou wanted to open up a huge musical space that could contain the musical experiments on which she is about to embark. And they come fast and furious. Rannou adds heavy ornaments, uses lots of rubato all the way through, and follows one variation with another without pause, except for a few full stops. Dramatic contrasts are the order of the day. There are other very slow variations (the Adagio variation 25 gets nearly ten minutes to unfold its mysteries), but Rannou only rarely resorts to blinding speed, as opposed to ornamentational density. Instead she uses the space to shape each individual variation into a series of quasi-fantastic effects, linking the work to Bach's mighty works in semi-improvisational traditions. This is an unusual way, in the extreme, of hearing the Goldberg Variations. It pretty much disregards the work's elaborate tripartite architecture of melodic, virtuoso, and contrapuntal variations, and it requires disbelief in the (probably untrue) origin story of the variations as written for a Count Goldberg who wanted music to drift off to sleep by. For Rannou, the Goldberg Variations are a supremely public work. Not everyone will love this, but it demands to be heard, and Rannou is supported by superb sound from the Zig Zag Territoires label. © TiVo
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released March 22, 2011 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
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Solo Piano - Released August 27, 2009 | Sony Classical

Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released April 17, 2012 | Zig-Zag Territoires

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 3F de Télérama - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio - Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir
It would be hard to conceive of more annoying graphic design that proffered on this release from the Zig Zag Territoires label, identified with a big "ZZT" (no, that's not an electric shock warning). There, however, the list of complaints pretty much ends. This little program of solo cantatas and organ works by countertenor Damien Guillon and his historical instrument group Le Banquet Céleste was beautifully recorded in a small Strasbourg church and it's an intimate gem. Front and center is Guillon's singing, which is sweet, nicely rounded in the high tones, and couched in an attitude of relaxed calm. Organist Maude Gratton offers a trio sonata and a sparkling rendition of the Fantasy and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542, which ends the program on a unique rousing note. The instrumentalists have a sensuous sound and are so well coordinated with Guillon that they seem like extensions of his singing. With the emphasis in recordings of Bach cantatas having long been on the grand conceptions of the charismatic figures who have undertaken complete Bach cycles, a small, unified, and beautifully executed recording like this one comes as a breath of fresh air, and it represents the French way with Bach at its best. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 28, 2011 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released September 10, 2009 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions Exceptional Sound Recording
France's Alpha label has issued a marvelous series of mostly Baroque and Classical-era pieces, in booklets sumptuously illustrated not only with items relevant to the performance at hand but also with a painting, fully analyzed by Quebec historian Denis Grenier, that may relate more or less closely to the musical works on the album. The painting included here has only an abstract relationship to Bach's six trio sonatas for keyboard; Grenier likens the crossing lines of the trio sonata texture, so cleverly transferred by Bach to the keyboard from its usual ensemble medium, to the multiple sight lines in the murkily sexy interior view by seventeenth century Dutch artist Samuel van Hoogstraten. It's a tenuous connection, but a really interesting painting, with slippers on the floor and keys swinging from a lock. Bach's sonatas have been performed on organ and pedal harpsichord. Keyboardist Benjamin Alard has played both organ and harpsichord; here he uses a modern French organ from the Eglise Saint-Louis en l'Ile in Paris, generally built in the style of German organs of Bach's time but not copied from any single example. It's a delightful instrument, sweet and melodious and not in the least ponderous, and Alpha's engineers have done their usual fine job in capturing its sounds. Alard's readings and registrations seem aimed at maximum clarity; he does little to make particular movements stand out, with generally consistent tempo choices throughout. Various choices exist for these sonatas, and whether one prefers this or the more colorful readings of Christopher Herrick on Hyperion, say, is a matter primarily of taste. But this is an attractive package, all the way through. Notes are in French and English. © TiVo
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Classical - Released March 3, 2009 | Ambroisie - naïve

Booklet Distinctions Exceptional Sound Recording