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Classical - Released September 4, 2020 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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To record the Golberg Variations, the absolute pinnacle of western works on harpsichord and the apotheosis of the Baroque era, is the ultimate dream for many musicians. Lang Lang, who admits to have studied the fourth section of the Clavierübung by the Cantor of Leipzig for over twenty years, is no exception. This collection offers two interpretations of the same work. Firstly, a studio version, captured beautifully at the Berlin Jesus-Christus Kirche in March 2020 under the supervision of Christopher Alder, in which Lang Lang displays more measured tempos, particularly in the the initial aria and the first variation. This approach begins to animate itself more in the next section before the first variation in G minor which is slow, sluggish-sounding and unrelenting, taking on a stubborn and repetitive saraband rhythm - a remarkable conclusion to the first section. The outburst of the French Ouverture of Variation 16 is nothing short of spectacular. The following variations pass quickly before the second variation in G minor (Var. 21, Conone alla Settima.), with its very depressive phrasing, an imaginary Tombeau which momentarily instills an impressive gravity. Lang Lang nevertheless remains indifferent to the intrinsic structure of the Goldberg Variations, organised into ten successive groups of three variations with each group finishing with an increasingly complex canon (from the Var. 3’s Canone all’Unisono to Var.27’s Canone all Nona). For the Chinese pianist, his expressive heart seems to concentrate on the three minor key variations, and he doesn’t hesitate to project a Baroque expressionism that finishes the Golbergs with a touch of pathos and romanticism alongside a rounded and silky sound.The energy of the Leipzig public, on the 5 of March 2020, adds a welcome characteristic. During the concert, recorded by Philip Krause, who also accompanied Alder during his studio recording, Lang Lang has fun with the polyphony, beginning with the Aria. Here, he dances and injects subtle variations into the accents, thus opening up a wider and more diverse field of expression (Var. 1, Var. 7). Mischievous (Variation 23 has 2 harpsichords!), Lang Lang lets his imagination run rampant and the emotion that ensues is truly striking (Var. 21, with its obsessive delays). A certain weight is lifted, even in the way the harpsichord sounds, which bears witness to how the Chinese pianist’s sound has changed over the last fifteen years. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz

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

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Classical - Released February 7, 2020 | Phi

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Bach’s St. John Passion, with its famous opening chorus traversed by shadows and light, is a powerful musical and spiritual reflection. Dramatic, grandiose, complex, resolutely theatrical: there has been no lack of superlatives to describe this supreme masterpiece of western music. Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent present an accomplished reading that reflects their knowledge of the composer, based on extensive research and deepened by countless concerts. Soloists Krešimir Stražanac and Maximilian Schmitt demonstrate the breadth of their talents in the roles of Jesus and the Evangelist. © Phi

Classical - Released March 22, 2019 | La Dolce Volta

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Bach to the Future gained considerable publicity from being the last recording made on the 1868 Cavaillé-Coll organ at Notre-Dame cathedral before the devastating fire of 2019. It might just as well, however, have become renowned if there had been no fire: it is one of the most exciting organ releases of recent years. Organist Olivier Latry became titulaire des grands orgues at Notre-Dame in 1985, when he was just 23, but he has lost none of his youthful brashness, indicated perhaps by the album's punning title. Latry explains his ideas in an interesting an readable accompanying note. More than in any other genre of classical music, a performance of an organ work is an interpretation by the player, who shapes its basic textures. Latry takes this idea and develops it, using stops that did not exist in Bach's time. Furthermore, he has familiarized himself with arrangements of Bach's organ works made for other media, including Leopold Stokowski's crowd-pleasing orchestral version of the Toccata and fugue in D minor, BWV 565, and Liszt's version of the Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 542 (presented here as two separate tracks, for Latry is unconvinced that they were meant as a unit). Latry incorporates sonorities of these into his organ performances; sample the blazing Toccata and fugue, a real thrill that, like everything else on the album, is recorded to the hilt. The result is an organ album of almost unprecedented textural breadth and brilliance. Latry has other unusual ideas, such as the organ performance of the six-part ricercar from the Musical Offering, BWV 1079, at the beginning, plunging the listener into a murky world of complexity, and the narrative treatment of the Passacaglia and fugue in C minor, BWV 582. Yet more is there for the listener to discover, all of it part of the story of the great Notre-Dame organ that will, thankfully, be ongoing. © TiVo

Chamber Music - Released August 17, 2018 | Sony Classical

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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 11, 2019 | Château de Versailles Spectacles

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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

Violin Concertos - Released March 15, 2019 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
After the double album of the Violin and Harpsichord Sonatas with Kristian Bezuidenhout, here is the next instalment in a Bach recording adventure that began nine years ago with a set of the Sonatas and Partitas. Isabelle Faust, Bernhard Forck and his partners at the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin have explored a multitude of other works by Bach: harpsichord concertos, trio sonatas for organ, instrumental movements from sacred cantatas etc. All are revealed here as direct or indirect relatives of the three monumental Concertos BWV 1041-43. This fascinating achievement is a timely reminder that the master of The Well-Tempered Clavier was also a virtuoso violinist! © harmonia mundi

Chamber Music - Released June 7, 2019 | BIS

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In 1985 the Russian violinist Vladimir Spivakov published his own arrangement of the Goldberg Variations for a string trio at the time of the tricentennial anniversary of the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach. Dedicated to the memory of the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould who recently died, this deft transcription has since made a tour of the world and many recordings have flourished. When it came to recording their Goldberg, the Zimmermann trio (Frank Peter Zimmermann on violin, Antoin Tamestit on viola and Christian Poltéra on cello) decided to propose their own version of the string trio which was, according to the musicians, “neither an arrangement nor a transcription, but essentially a unveiling of Bach’s score”. The result is splendid as much is the exceptional capture of the three Stradivarius instruments used in this recording by the engineers of BIS. There is a pleasant “grainy” sound in the air between the notes and the perfectly balanced reverberations. A total success thanks to the addition of high-quality instruments, instrumentalists and technique. © François Hudry/Qobuz

Classical - Released February 7, 2020 | BIS

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“A great joy”: this is how Masaaki Suzuki considers this, his second recording of the St. Matthew’s Passion, made twenty years after the first one, in the Saitama Arts Theatre in Japan in April 2019 for the BIS label. A great opportunity to revisit the work, as in the elapsed time, the conductor and his orchestra have nearly completely recorded Bach’s choral music, including the complete masses and secular and sacred cantatas. As is his custom, Suzuki works with European soloists for this new recording, like the splendid young German tenor Benjamin Bruns, playing the stupendous part of the Evangelist. There are other familiar soloists that feature here, such as Carolyn Sampson, Damien Guillon, Makoto Sakurada and Christian Immler. There is nothing monumental about this new intimate and refined version, which follows the fateful narrative with great sobriety. There is nevertheless a fervent level of impulse, as well as a certain innocence within this resolutely pared back Lutheran perspective - there is never any real search for theatricality. The exceptional instrumental quality of the soloists of the Bach Collegium Japan and the soft touches of the two choral ensembles is also worth highlighting. © François Hudry / Qobuz

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 March 27, 2020 | Claves Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
This recording was made in April 2019 at the Ernest-Ansermet Studio in Geneva, after five concerts in Switzerland during the preceding days. The desire to be as faithful as possible to the rhythm of the drama of the Passion and to the evidence of the musical sequences, which is easier to feel during a live performance than in front of the relative abstraction of the microphones, as well as a non-negligible time constraint (three and a half days in the studio for a work of 160 minutes), pushed the members of Gli Angeli Genève to record long takes, sometimes including up to 10 or 12 minutes of music, thus getting as close as possible to the feeling of a concert. In concert, with small vocal groups, Gli Angeli Genève systematically places the singers in front of the instruments regardless of repertoire, so as to give speech in music the most prominent place possible. When recording, since the audience’s crucial role cannot be replaced by the microphones, the musicians place ourselves in a large circle, all facing each other. They can see each other playing, singing, vibrating, breathing and reacting. The idea of reaction is central to this work where, when the action of the story is suspended, it is immediately replaced by emotion and poetic as well as musical beauty that Matthew’s story inspired in Bach and Picander. Airs as well as chorales. And within this circle they can react together, engage in dialogue, and see themselves feel the drama and powerful affects that mark the work relentlessly. And then they can share the pleasure and sometimes the awe - so beautiful is the music – of being able to live all this together. Forming a circle to make this music and observing the extraordinary musicians of Gli Angeli Genève at work led Stephan MacLeod (the conductor) to realise the extent to which The Saint Matthew Passion has structured the career and relationship to music of many of his colleagues. © Claves Records

Violin Solos - Released September 8, 2017 | Ondine

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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.

Classical - Released October 2, 2015 | PentaTone

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Classical - Released November 15, 2019 | ECM New Series

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Composed three centuries ago, Johann Sebastian Bach’s set of six works for solo violin stands as one of the holy grails of the instrument’s literature – perhaps the holiest. Now the great Austrian musician Thomas Zehetmair makes his own mark in the rich history of this music, revisiting the repertoire on period instruments. Zehetmair is an extraordinary violinist and a consistently inquisitive and self-questioning artist. He has not only played the big concertos but has given close attention to chamber music and new repertory, and has also found an extra calling as a conductor, channeling this varied experience into his return to the formidable cornerstone of Bach’s solo masterpieces. As a young man Zehetmair worked with Nikolaus Harnoncourt in his period ensemble, working with him to prepare for his first recording of the sonatas and partitas on a modern instrument. For this new recording, he draws out exquisite colours from two violins from Bach’s lifetime, both of them by masters in the German tradition, but there is nothing antiquarian in his approach – old instruments, for him, are tools with which to express a modern sensibility: alert, edgy, multivalent. His performance engages, too, with the superb acoustic of the priory church of St Gerold, in Austria where so many legendary ECM recordings have been made. Peter Gülke, in his accompanying essay, refers to the “floating spirituality” of this music, and to how Bach here offers one side of a conversation with the performer, whom he leaves free to determine matters of dynamic shading, phrasing and bowing. Zehetmair brings vividness and intelligence to the conversation on a recording that, deeply steeped in the music and true, is at the same time powerfully original. © ECM New Series

Chamber Music - Released June 8, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica
This is not the place for yet another disquisition on the widespread baroque practice of transcribing works: Bach was no stranger to it himself, to say nothing of Handel, who plagiarised himself over and over; and this album gives us the Cantor transcribing the Cantor. In this instance we are looking at the Fifth Suite in C Minor for cello, which he re-wrote for the lute. Taking his lead from the composer, lutist Thomas Dunford has done the same to the First Suite for cello, and revised it for his instrument. Obviously, the music seems renewed, elucidated in many different ways: the styles, the reverberations, the harmonies, the counterpoints all develop differently, but we are still hearing original Bach: it's just that its richness is distributed differently in our ears. Dunford offers us a generous "B-side" in the form of a transcription of the Chaconne taken from the Suite for Solo Violin in D Minor, another superb exercise in reconsidering balances while respecting the letter of the music. It remains astounding what one can do with Bach, without ever betraying the spirit of his works. © SM/Qobuz

Classical - Released April 3, 2020 | PentaTone

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After her acclaimed Pentatone debut with "Transfigured Night", Alisa Weilerstein returns with a complete recording of Bach’s Cello Suites. These pieces present the highest mountain to climb for any cellist, and one of the most transcendent and rewarding experiences for listeners alike. With his suites, Bach crafted - essentially without direct precedent - a body of solo cello music that forever defined the genre and brought the Baroque cello on par with its more popular cousin, the viola da gamba. Since Pablo Casals put them in the limelight again after 150 years of relative oblivion, Bach’s suites have become the alpha and omega for generations of cellists. To Weilerstein, the joy of this music - vibrant, contemporary, unquestionably alive - is the joy of discovery. Having heard and studied these pieces for years, she now entrusts her interpretation to the listener. © Pentatone

Classical - Released August 19, 2015 | harmonia mundi

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It was 1987. A young harpsichordist, a thirty-one year old from Göttingen, Germany, dazzled the musical world with his brilliant version of the fifth Brandenburg Concerto, recorded by Reinhard Goebel and the musicians of the Musica Antiqua Köln, for Archiv Produktion. Since then, Andreas Staier has often returned to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. He has succeeded at everything that he has tried; including Partitas, the Italian Concerto, the French Overture, Fantaisies - a piece attached to his youth (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, 1988, 1993), the simply inexhaustible Goldberg Variations (harmonia mundi), through to his amazing recital – never to be forgotten – of the Sonatas (1997). Now, he is publishing a recording of the seven Concertos for (one) keyboard. In total harmony with his co-conspirators at the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, Staier offers classical lovers releases like no other. He moves away from the light spirit of "entertainment" in Telemann – the historical founder of the Collegium Musicum in Leipzig - for whom these concert works were originally executed. For Staier, these concertos betray an expressive depth, a contrapuntal density, which is incomparably sonorous. Listen, for example, to the Adagio in D minor. Here, the low rumble is tinged with tension and anxiety, under the cover of a singing lyricism. The addition in the last movement of the concerto, even in a relatively tortured cadence, is reminiscent of the young Bach (who was himself influenced by the "stylus phantasticus", or tempos retained, of E major, which goes on to reveal its full melancholic tone). For Staier, these stunning pieces are all authentic mini-dramas. We have long awaited such daring and original releases. © Qobuz

Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released March 25, 2016 | harmonia mundi

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Pop - Released November 18, 2016 | Rhino

The group's second album, with Anderson (vocals, flute, acoustic guitars, keyboards, balalaika), Martin Barre (electric guitar, flute), Clive Bunker (drums), and Glen Cornick (bass), solidified the group's sound. There is still an element of blues, but except for "A New Day Yesterday," it is far more muted than on their first album, as Mick Abrahams' blues stylings are largely absent from Martin Barre's playing. The influence of folk music also began to manifest itself ("Look Into the Sun"). The instrumental "Bouree," which could've been an early Blood, Sweat & Tears track, became a favorite concert number, although at this point Anderson's flute playing on-stage needed a lot of work; by his own admission, he just wasn't that good. Bassist Cornick would last through only one more album, but he gets his best moments here, on "Bouree." As a story song with opaque lyrics and jarring tempo changes, "Back to the Family" is the forerunner to Thick as a Brick. The only major flaw in this album is the mix, which divides the electric and acoustic instruments and fails to find a solid center. The LP comes with a "pop-up" jacket interior. © Bruce Eder /TiVo

Classical - Released June 26, 2020 | Alpha

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Anna Prohaska asked Wolfgang Katschner and the Lautten Compagney at the outset of the coronavirus crisis whether they shouldn’t spontaneously organize a musical get-together in this period. This has now resulted in "Redemption". This is a sequence of music selected solely from Bach cantatas, compiled in keeping with the aforenamed conceptual association. "Redemption" has multiple meanings, for instance: can music give us consolation in times of sickness and crisis; can it open up emotional and contemplative spaces for us; is it redemptive for musicians to be the “instruments” in engendering music and therefore spirituality… ? Besides Anna Prohaska as soloist and three other singers, "Redemption" features a larger group of musicians – around twenty instrumentalists. These musicians serve a dual role: they expertly accompany the arias that Anna Prohaska sings and they also represent the concept of human interaction and a shared collective experience which has been missing during these times. © Alpha Classics