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Classical - Released October 13, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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Bach (Johann Sebastian, that is) or not Bach? This is the question that the violinist Amandine Beyer and the ensemble Gli Incogniti asked themselves by seizing a handful of works long thought to be from the Kantor and that we now know to be from other composers—known, identified or not. Thus, the Sonata BWV 1024 may have “ended up” in Bach’s repertoire because a musicologist knew how to use the right scientific arguments (paper, copyists, geographical and historical contexts) to achieve his goal. The style of the composition, which admittedly is a bit reminiscent of Bach, cannot however quite fall in line with the musician’s writing style. Therefore, in order to avoid the sonata disappearing back into anonymity, it has now been attributed to Pisendel, rightly or wrongly. The Trio BWV 1036 is from Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach—we were always quite sure of that, even if some less scrupulous releases have omitted the first name… The Trio BWV 1037 seems to be from Goldberg (the one from the Variations). The Suite in A major BWV 1025 is of somewhat ambiguous paternity, but it’s actually an arrangement Bach created for violin and harpsichord using the Suite SC 47 for lute that his friend and colleague Silvius Leopold Weiss composed. These are a few works that, after long being in the paradise of being attributed to Bach, are now in the hell of the “fake”, even if it’s not the fault of the composers that wrote them! What a pity… © SM/Qobuz

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 April 10, 2020 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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It’s a strange feeling seeing Trevor Pinnock’s name again on the front of a Deutsche Grammaphon release, more than twenty years since the release of his numerous productions for the yellow label’s former sub-label dedicated to early and baroque music, Archiv Produktion – yet it’s also rather exciting. The artist produced the album himself with the help of renowned sound engineer and artistic director Philip Hobbs who has succeeded in capturing the beauty of his instrument built by David Way, modelled on an instrument by Henri Hemsch. This recording of Book I of J.S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, recorded at the Colyer-Fergusson Hall at the University of Kent in August 2018 and January 2019, was a dream come true for the British harpsichordist as he admits in the touching introductory text, confessing his lifelong admiration for the dual character of the first book. For example, some diptychs have a completely educational, almost formalist character which is ideal for those learning the art of playing or composition, while others, such as the final Prelude and Fugue in B minor are revelatory of a greater ambition for composition and innovation, and even border on the abstract, and are therefore more difficult for novice musicians to grasp. Pinnock also notes that this music is essentially intended to be listened to and shared in small circles between family and pupils, for example. The intimate tone is indeed striking when listening to this interpretation for the first time. The harpsichordist had no hesitation in including all twenty-four preludes and fugues from the first book, unified in their ensemble by a certain lightness. Even within the robust framework, his playing exudes happiness, a sense of joie de vivre, even in keys that are usually more melancholic (Prelude and Fugue in E minor(), subdued (Prelude and Fugue in B flat minor, sombre (Prelude and Fugue in F minor) or uneasy (Prelude and Fugue in G sharp minor), throughout the two hours that this First Book lasts. An enthralling version not to be missed. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz

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

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 June 14, 2019 | ECM New Series

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As part of Keith Jarrett’s rather extensive project on the works of the Cantor of Leipzig, an interpretation on harpsichord of Livre I from J. S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier was recorded in February 1987 and released in 1988. The recording dates from the same time as this new piano version by ECM New Series recorded 7 March 1987 in Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Of the same fluid drive in terms of the discourse, it holds an irresistible energy and is a particularly welcome interpretation of these invigorating and interpretable fugues (in C flat Major). Everything seems to dance and be in movement (D Major). The same feelings found throughout the polyphonies of pianists such as Tatiana Nikolayeya and Samuel Feinbeg or even a harpsichordist like Gustav Leonhardt are not present here. For Keith Jarrett, Bach represents the triumph of structure, and he plays Bach above all to confront one of his own artistic missions: polyphonic elaboration. The works of the Thomaskantor work as a medium for his own musical creativity as a jazzman and improvisor. The poetry and emotion are nevertheless ever-present. This is a version that will give real pleasure to all lovers of Keith Jarrett’s, allowing the comparison of two interpretations realized within two weeks of each other. Pierre-Yves Lascar/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

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

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

Classical - Released November 15, 2019 | ECM New Series

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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

Violin Solos - Released April 19, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Baroque violinist Rachel Podger is right that Bach's output is riddled with transcriptions, and that the same is true of the performance history of his works. Hence, she is on solid historical ground here, with at least the first five of Bach's six Suites for Solo Cello, BWV 1007-1012. The Suite No. 6 for solo cello, BWV 1012, is a different story: the work was written for a five-string cello, giving it a range that puts it out of reach of any violin, Baroque or otherwise. This one was accomplished with studio trickery, which has its place, but is intrusive here. Another complaint is the cavernous recital hall sound in what is manifestly chamber music. For the most part, though, Podger is enjoyable to listen to here. She makes the cello suites, for the most part, into violin music; putting some zip into the faster dances so they avoid the more deliberate mood of the cello. Her vivacious style comes through in movements like the Bourrée from the Suite for solo cello No. 4 in E flat major, BWV 1010. The slower dances are by no means unpleasant, but here the transformation is a bit less successful. Part of the appeal of the cello suites is that they are among those works, like Beethoven's Ninth, that lie at the limits of performers' capabilities. Here those limits are not a question of the voice, or the speed of the fingers, but of the capability of a cello to realize the implied polyphony in Bach's music. On a Baroque violin there is not the same kind of struggle. Nevertheless, Podger fans will find plenty to like here. © TiVo

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

Cello Solos - Released April 14, 2011 | Aparté

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The Bach Cello Suites are an iconic monument of the literature with which any serious cellist must grapple. Performances can vary from the metronomically precise just-play-the-notes approach to the other extreme in which a player's idiosyncratic interpretations are so pronounced that they become the center of attention rather than Bach's sublime music. This 2010 version is French cellist Ophélie Gaillard's second recording of the suites, the first made a decade earlier when she was in her mid-twenties. For the most part Gaillard's take on the music (like that of most sensible cellists) lies somewhere in between, but with some movements closer to the eccentric end of the spectrum. Gaillard's technical fluency is unimpeachable. Her intonation, even in the most outrageous multiple-stop chords, is impeccable. She plays with a ripe, absolutely luscious tone that may not suit the taste of the most fervent period performance devotees but that would likely elicit wonder from just about everyone else. Her use of vibrato is circumspect and period-appropriate. She is scrupulous about observing repeats and her use of ornamentation is elegant and understated. The fluidity and unself-conscious physicality of Gaillard's playing keeps the listener aware that except for the preludes, this is sunny, dance-based music. Her handling of the faster movements is especially delightful; the Gigue from the Second Suite and the Bourées from the Fourth (among many others) are just plain fun. It's in some of the preludes where the idiosyncrasies of her interpretation may lose some listeners. The Prelude to the First Suite, consisting entirely of sixteenth note figures, is an interpretive challenge and it's one of the movements to which performers have applied the widest range of rhythmic freedom. Gaillard puts heavy emphasis on the downbeats and frequently sustains them for twice their written length, and she brings a similar approach to the Prelude of the Fourth Suite. Depending on the listener's perspective, her playing of these movements may come across as either expansively elastic or weirdly distended. A factor that's almost inevitably an issue in recordings of such intimate music for solo string instruments, and sometimes string chamber music, is the clear audibility of strings slapping the soundboard and the player's breathing. In almost any live performing situation, these would not be heard because those sounds don't tend to carry, and an audience member sitting even in the first row would be unlikely to notice them, so a recording is an unfortunately unnatural way to experience this music. The extraneous sounds are only minimally distracting here; Gaillard's breathing, while not annoying or always audible, can sound labored, as if she were working very hard, and that seems to contradict the apparent ease and flexibility of her playing. Otherwise, the acoustic is very fine, with a detailed, spacious, and nicely resonant ambience. © TiVo

Classical - Released October 30, 2015 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica

Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released March 10, 2017 | SDG

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Award - Gramophone Record of the Month - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Recorded live at Pisa Cathedral in 2016, this recording of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244, is of a piece with the touring Bach Cantata Pilgrimage recordings released in the early 2000s: it is rich yet lively, sung with precision yet a total sense of commitment in the moment. The singers -- the Monteverdi Choir of 30 with soloists all drawn from the choir, except for Jesus (Stephan Loges) and the Evangelist (James Gilchrist) -- performed from memory, and the feeling that the text is being communicated directly is even greater than is usual with Gardiner. An unusual feature of the recording is that the soloists are not single per part; the soprano solos are taken by no fewer than five different singers. Several (try Hannah Morrison in "Aus liebe") are lovely, and the effect of a space between the congregational chorales and the focus on an individual soloist is fascinating. The hair-trigger alertness of the chorus in the big numbers like "Sind Blitze, sind Donner in Wolken verschwunden?" is also extremely compelling. Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir offer Bach with the luxury of old-fashioned Romantic versions combined with the agility of historical performance, and they've never done the combination better than they do here. © TiVo

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

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 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. © TiVo

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

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