Albums

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Full Operas - Released September 7, 2018 | CPO

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Full Operas - Released August 31, 2018 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Full Operas - Released July 6, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet
Recorded in July 2017 in the sumptuous Baden-Baden Festspielhaus, this La clemenza di Tito follows albums which had come out previously in the Mozart series with Nézet-Séguin, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and tenor Rolando Villazón, who is the only singer to appear in all these productions. It should go without saying that the music is extremely finely-chiselled: none of the singers take the slightest liberty with either the score or the style – there are no unruly Italianisms like glissandos, individual showing off, clownish high-Cs, parasitic ornamentations, warbling, trilling, sobbing – which means that we are left with one of the purest and finest performances of this work. Note that this was Mozart's final opera, first performed just two months before he passed away; and that the recitatives were written by the faithful Sussmayr, who would go on to "complete" the Requiem. In the same period Mozart was also putting the final touches to his Magic flute and only had a few weeks to finish the work; and yet, what perfection in the arias, ensembles and choruses! And that in spite of the fact that the subject probably was not a source of tremendous interest to the composer, especially since his explosive collaboration with Da Ponte. But when given a performance like this, the work absolutely passes with flying colours. © SM/Qobuz
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Full Operas - Released June 29, 2018 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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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
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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Full Operas - Released June 22, 2018 | Warner Classics

Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Full Operas - Released June 22, 2018 | Warner Classics

Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Full Operas - Released June 22, 2018 | Warner Classics

Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Full Operas - Released May 11, 2018 | Ediciones Singulares

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 3F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica
We'll admit: this Reine de Chypre by Fromental Halévy is probably not the unfairly-overlooked work of commanding genius for which the lyrical world has been waiting for fifty years… But it would still be a shame to miss it, especially when performed by such a line-up, with Véronique Gens, Cyrille Dubois and Etienne Dupuis at the top of the bill. And after all, the score is full of vocal marvels and very original ensembles; but it is rather in the orchestration – which is not much more adventurous than that of any other piece of Italian bel canto of the era – that Halévy has taken it easy. The melodic richness was pointed out in an article in the Revue et gazette musicale in April 1842: "In the Reine de Chypre, Halévy's new style is on display with more dash, and more success. I have had occasion to point out the preconditions, as I see them, of the production of a good opera, by pointing out the obstacles which stand in the way of meeting these conditions fully and in good time, whether by the poet or the composer. When these conditions are met, it is an event of great importance for the world of art. Now, in the present case, circumstances have conspired in the performance of a work which, as even the most exacting critic must admit, possesses all the qualities which constitute a good opera. (…) The composer has put all the enchantment of his art into the duet that breathes the sentiments that enrapture them. The dark cloth on which these two charming figures are drawn shows through even in those songs which are so sparkling and alive with happiness, like a sinister cloud, and lends them a particular character of melancholy intrigue. There is no equal, in nobility or in grace, of the magnificent melody of the final part of this duet." The article continues in this vein. The byline? One Richard Wagner… © SM/Qobuz
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Full Operas - Released May 2, 2018 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Record of the Month - Diapason d'or / Arte - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica
The story of the Pêcheurs de perles [Pearl Fishers] by Bizet is nothing short of torturous: after its first outing in 1863, the score – whose manuscript is now in private hands and no longer available, alas – fell into obscurity, and was only returned to its rightful place in the sun after the composer's death, once Carmen had made his name. Alas – a thousand times, alas – many different theatre directors took themselves for great geniuses and made little amendments to the work, cutting here, adding there, changing bits up to and including the end. Until the 1960s, this calamitously cack-handed version was the one that was performed – this libretto looks a little flat, why not add a few mistakes? – until musicologists stumbled across the original documents, in particular the cut-down version by Bizet himself, as well as the "conductor's score" of the time, which contained many notes about orchestration. This version, put together in 2014 by Hugh MacDonald, is sung by the flower of great French lyrical music – Julie Fuchs, Florian Sempey, Cyrille Dubois and Luc Bertin-Hugault – and returns as closely as possible to the original version of the work, so that the listener will encounter a number of big surprises, and good surprises too: additional numbers, several melodic and dramatic developments: almost a whole new score. © SM/Qobuz
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Full Operas - Released March 2, 2018 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Full Operas - Released February 9, 2018 | Cypres

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
Nineteen musicians in the pit, three on stage; resolutely tonal music in a straight line of succession running from Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Martinů, Weill; French lyrics more declaimed than sung - by, happily, Francophone singer-actors led by Stéphane Degout, Vincent Le Texier, Yann Beuron and Chloé Briot: this is the framework that Philippe Boesmans chose for his latest opera Pinocchio, recorded live at La Monnaie in Brussels. The script is the work of Joël Pommerat, and it aims for an hour and fifteen of the quasi-melodrama based on the style which was in vogue in the 19th century in which to showcase the baffling musical richness of Collodi's work: and with immense success, it must be said. Pommerat is not necessarily looking to write a purely lyrical Pinocchio, but rather to develop an opera within an opera, using Brecht's favoured method of defamiliarisation, a sort of play-within-a-play, where "real" events alternate with narrative description of what's happening or about to happen. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, a major work for the contemporary scene, a worthy 21st-century successor to the Magic Flute and its fantasy world, immersive, and full of illusions, prisms and invitations to new readings: in short, a masterpiece. And it can hardly come as a surprise that the subject hasn't drawn the attention of more composers since it first appeared in 1881, as only cinema and television have really taken it seriously (and Disneyesque animations, heaping on the sugar), with the exception of Jonathan Dove's unique 2007 work, The Adventures of Pinocchio © SM/Qobuz
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Full Operas - Released November 3, 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4 étoiles de Classica - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
Until now, Porpora’s Germanico in Germania has, with the exception of one or two virtuoso arias, remained firmly hidden on library shelves. However, during his lifetime Porpora was as famous for teaching singing (one of his pupils was Farinelli) as for his compositions, so it’s no wonder that his score is a veritable feast of vocal delights ripe for resurrection. As a composer, Porpora’s reputation spread throughout Italy, especially to Venice, where he was “maestro delle figlie at the Ospedale degli Incurabili” (one of the city’s famous music schools for orphans) from 1726 to 1733, and Rome, where the Teatro Capranica saw the premiere of Germanico in Germania in February 1732. In Rome, by Papal edict, operas were “all-male”, and this cast was seriously “all-star”. Clearly Porpora enjoyed stretching the singers to their utmost potential, employing every vocal trick at his command. Germanico was played by the experienced alto castrato Domenico Annibali. The en travesti female roles were taken, as was often the case, by young singers at the start of their careers. For this recording boasting another “all-star” cast led by countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic, female roles are of course held by female singers. The excellent Capella Cracoviensis, playing on period instruments, is led by Jan Tomasz Adamus. © SM/Qobuz
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Full Operas - Released January 5, 2018 | Oehms Classics

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Full Operas - Released December 1, 2017 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica
Everyone thinks that they know Alceste by Lully, and yet this 1674 masterpiece has almost never been recorded in its entirety. Apart from the Malgoire version from 1975 with Bruce Brewer and Felicity Palmer, which is starting to become outdated, the real treat is a second versoin by the same Malgoire twenty years later with Jean-Philippe Lafont and Colette Alliot-Lugaz... And so we can only take our hats off to the new discographical opus from Christophe Rousset's Talens Lyriques, a lively and elegant reading which allows us to rediscover everything that was so innovative about this brilliant, effervescent Florentine, who would become a typical Versaillais, a courtesan and a wheeler-dealer. King Louis XIV - 36 years old, still with all his own teeth and a victorious war leader - could only feel flattered by the piece signed by Quinault: Alcide, who covets the beautiful Alceste (who has been promised to Admetus), is none other than Hercules himself - Louis XIV seeing himself in Hercules saving the beautiful Madame de Montespan from the clutches of her husband.  To be sure, in this opera, Admetus/Hercules magnanimously hands Alceste, whom he has saved from hell, to her husband, while the poor Mr Montespan would end his career and his life exiled in Gascony... Honour intact. The Sun King loved the work, to the point that he commanded that rehearsals be held at Versailles. According to Madame de Sévigné, "The King declared that if he found himself in Paris when it was performed, he would go to see it every night." That being said, if Alceste suited the tastes of the court, it didn't do so well in Paris, where Lully's enemies, jealous of the extravagant privileges that he had won (the exclusive right to "have sung any whole piece in France, wither in French verse or in other languages, without the written permission of said Sir Lully, on pain of a ten thousand livre fine, and confiscation of theatres, equipment, decorations, costumes..."), heaped plot upon plot, while the gallant Mercury sang his little couplet: Dieu !  Le bel opéra ! Rien de plus pitoyable ! Cerbère y vient japper d'un aboi lamentable !  Oh ! Quelle musique de chien ! Oh ! Quelle musique du diable ! [Lord!/Fine opera!/There's nothing so pitiable!/Cerberus is yapping, his howls lamentable!/What doggish music!/What devilish music!]. Posterity would decide otherwise, and Rousset proved it triumphantly. © SM/Qobuz
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Full Operas - Released November 24, 2017 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Record of the Year - Gramophone Award - Gramophone Record of the Month - 4 étoiles de Classica
We will gladly forgive the occasional "weakness" in sound technology in this recording of Troyens by Berlioz (recorded live in concert in April 2017). In light of the first-rate quality of the music and vocals that appear on the disc (a majority of which are French voices, with Stéphane Degout at their head) this immense work is from the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra and the three choirs which have been brought together – because the work demands immense swelling choirs – which are the choir of the Opéra national du Rhin, the Opéra National de Bade, and the Strasbourg Philharmonic's own choir. This recording rests, of course, on the complete original edition, which gives the listener a chance to hear Les Troyens as the work was performed in 1863, at the Théâtre-Lyrique, in which some intense chopping saw Acts I and II condensed into one part and Acts III to V into another, producing two distinct operas (La Prise de Troie and Les Troyens à Carthage). We also get a taste, naturally, of Berlioz's immensely rich orchestral innovations: with every new work, he would invent some exciting new prototype from scratch, never content to rest on his laurels. The listener should note the presence of six saxhorns, recently invented by Adolphe Sax (of whom Berlioz was an indefatigable champion, even if he didn't often use his instruments in his scores, no doubt because of the poor quality of the early instrumentalists who learned - however well or badly - Sax's instruments); bass clarinet, and an army of percussion pieces including several instruments which must have been rare in those days: crotales, goblet drums, tom-toms, thunder sheets... clearly, this is a milestone in the Berlioz discography. © SM/Qobuz
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Full Operas - Released October 20, 2017 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
This 1968 recording of The Flying Dutchman was made in the studio under the baton of the venerable Ottom Klemperer who, incidentally, was approaching his 83rd birthday - he had just five years left to live. This record is simply a dream come true, with Theo Adam, Martti Talvela, Anja Silja and Annneliese Burmeister supported by the New Philharmonia and the BBC choir. Klemperer is known for his fairly rapid tempos, even if the singers themselves lend longer durations to the music, as the work is not short on quasi-recitatives. In this vein, this "almost" short work (short by Wagner's standards at least) offers a measured reading, very much oriented towards comprehension of the text and clarity of the orchestra. It goes without saying that it has been the subject of a meticulous remastering, so that it really doesn't feel like you are listening to a recording from half a century ago. Orchestral colours, balance between stage and orchestra, precise vocal presence: these all make for an unmissable, historic recording. © SM/Qobuz « This performance is as perfect as we have any right to demand. Klemperer’s magisterial interpretation of the opera has a blazing intensity, the orchestra plays superbly and the cast give of their considerable best.» Gramophone ‘ With this remaster of Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer, the listener is plunged into a stormy world of wind and water. The sound effects introduced for the first time by EMI on this recording are very effective, and the dramatic impact of the performance of Anja Silja as Senta is indisputable. This recording, made in the winter of 1968 at Abbey Road’s Studio One, utilises the Ambiophonic system whereby numerous speakers were added to the walls of the studio to increase reverberation and improve the overall acoustic of the studio. The LP master tapes used for this remaster derive directly from the original four-track masters therefore preserving sound and balance as approved by Klemperer at the time the recording was made, including the spectacular sound effects.’  Ian Jones, Remastering Engineer at Abbey Road Studios
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Full Operas - Released October 20, 2017 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
« This magnificent 1956 recording, conducted with genius by Karajan and with a cast such as dreams are made of, has an unparalleled status and is unlikely to be challenged for many a year. » Gramophone « This remastering comes from the original analogue tapes and has been transferred at high resolution digital quality to capture the very best sound from the tapes. In consultation with the original engineer Chris Parker, we have slightly adjusted the balance of the Trio (in Act 3) to reflect the quality of sound that was desired but not achieved at the time of recording. This recording was originally made as a mono recording by Douglas Larter, with a stereo test version engineered by Chris Parker. It is this stereo test version which has been used for this remastering. Despite the early experimental nature of this new ‘stereo’ technology, this recording is captured in astonishingly vivid sound and is a testament to the experience, understanding and skill of both the musicians and engineers of the time.» Simon Gibson, Remastering Engineer at Abbey Road Studios  
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Full Operas - Released October 13, 2017 | Musical Concepts