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Secular Vocal Music - Released March 27, 2020 | MUSO

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama
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Secular Vocal Music - Released January 3, 2020 | CPO

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 29, 2019 | Decca

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
She had to dare. Cecilia Bartoli appears on this album cover nude, androgynous, in a full beard and with hair down to her shoulders, delving deeper into the legend surrounding Farinelli, already explored with questionable sensationalism in the world of cinema and replaced with more correct historical precision in Patrick Barbier's brilliant book dedicated to the famous Neapolitan castrato. The now-lost voice of castratos made eager crowds go wild at the time, the singers carrying a certain mythical aura around them, attributed to the confusion of their gender, bathed in an ambiguous eroticism. These music lovers have not however disappeared: they're the ones rushing to hear the Italian singer's vocal prowess both in concert and on disc. For this opus dedicated to Farinelli, Cecilia Bartoli has chosen well-known melodies from the repertoire of the famous singer, varying her vocal fireworks she is so renowned for with some more dramatic, introspective tunes. Cecilia Bartoli conjures up Porpora, Hasse, Giacomelli, Caldara and Riccardo Broschi, Farinelli's own brother in a thrilling spectacle which aims, if not to uncover a hypothetical voice of the past, to replicate the chills it could produce thanks to her passion and dedication to the art. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 15, 2019 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Christina Pluhar has long been interested in the vocal music of the 17th century, in particular that of composer Luigi Rossi born around 1597 in the beautiful province of Puglia. He was the titular composer to the Medicis in Florence before taking a job with Cardinal Barberini in Rome. In France, Cardinal Mazarin commissioned him to produce the first Italian opera written specifically for the French court. In a manner of speaking, Rossi is at the root of the productions that another Italian, Lully, would later write for Louis XIV. In 2005, Christina Pluhar had recorded the Lyra d'Orfeo, taken from Rossi's desk drawer, with her ensemble L'Arpeggiata, with the voice of Veronique Gens in all its splendour. But a legal problem arose which prevented its production as a record for nearly 15 years. With the lawsuit ongoing, Christina Pluhar completed her project with Arpa Davidica, a new original compilation of works by Luigi Rossi, which she and her assistants discovered in various libraries. Pluhar has selected a series of virtuoso, theatrical pieces geared closely to the lyrics, as Rossi would set to music the most beautiful poems of his day. Taking on the best voices of the moment, Cécile Scheen, Giuseppina Bridelli, Philippe Jaroussky, Jakub Józef Orliński and Valer Sabadus, Christina Pluhar has pulled out all the stops to bring enchanting and incredibly musically-rich material back to life. The few indications relating to the instrumental accompaniment left on the manuscripts leave the performers almost total freedom. They can imagine all sorts of instrumental combinations to link complicated melismas with the virtuosity of the vocal lines that the composer intended. The interpretation also works as a complete recreation. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Oratorios (secular) - Released November 8, 2019 | Ambronay Éditions

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason découverte
Recorded at the Royal Opera of Versailles, this "pastorale héroïque" is a co-production of the Festival d’Ambronay, which has released it on its own label. Inspired by Lully's Acis and Galatea of ten years earlier, André-Cardinal Destouches composed Issé to mark the prince's wedding celebrations at Trianon. The work met with great success right away and was performed several times at Versailles, right up to the wedding celebrations of the future king Charles X, before it went on to conquer the Paris Opéra. Issé's lighthearted plot is full of the obligatory amorous reversals and twists: Apollo, disguised as the shepherd Philémon, is assiduously pursuing the nymph Issé. The work delighted the King, who had it staged again, with Madame de Pompadour reprising the role of the nymph, in 1749. "The version upon which this record is based was published in 1724, by Jean- Baptiste Christophe Ballard. This revision truly perfected the work: it improved whole sections and added some remarkable pages. Houdar de La Motte re-wrote several lines, while Destouches undertook a wide-ranging re-working of the rhythm and the instrumental setting of the great arias, in such a way that the dramatic material remained recognisable", François Escande says. Closely linked to the needs of the French Court, this pastorale is probably Destouches's masterpiece, quite a feat if you consider that this was his first lyrical work. It links the charm and refined sensibilities of the 17th Century with the eloquent, brilliant and expressive spirit that the following century would love so passionately. Conducted by Louis-Noël Bestion de Camboulas, this version sparkles with intelligence thanks to a virtuoso orchestra (Les Surprises) and a team of larger- than-life singers who fit their roles perfectly. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released October 25, 2019 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Secular Vocal Music - Released October 25, 2019 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Much gossip has surrounded the double murder committed by Carlo Gesualdo, who killed his young wife and her lover when he caught them in flagrante delicto. The remorse he felt for this atrocious crime is said to have inspired the Neapolitan composer to write new harmonies, using and abusing scraping and characterful chromatisms. Paul Agnew takes aim at this widespread belief, contending that "this aristocratic double murder only indirectly influenced the musician's life." In a very interesting introductory text, the "Associate Musical Director" of the Arts Florissants sets the figure of Gesualdo back into his historical context, explaining just how his tormented psychological state would have fed into his own musical evolution, alongside the musical journeys of his peers. The same line of argument is also made by musicologist Denis Morrier in his analysis of the two first Books of Madrigals, which are presented here: "At once visionary and conservative, eccentric in language and conventional in form, these works have fascinated musicians and commentators across the ages", he writes. Following the recording of 17 madrigals from Book IV to Book VI, conducted by William Christie in 1988, this new album marks the first stage of a complete recording of Gesualdo's Madrigals, which are to be performed across three seasons at the Philharmonie de Paris. Passionate, violent, dark and burning with meaning, Gesualdo's music touches the heart and speaks to us of the doubts and contradictions of the human soul. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released October 18, 2019 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
The Second Book of Madrigals of Carlo Gesualdo provides the focal point for the latest in La Compagnia del Madrigale’s stunning reappraisals of the glories of the Italian madrigal on Glossa. Probably written by Gesualdo between the time of the double honour killing of his first wife and her lover and his subsequent remarriage, the second book presents a sophisticated compositional mastery quite in keeping with the later books, albeit offering a calmer and gentler approach compared to the more tortured and twisted musical and psychological turns found in the last books. Notwithstanding, much is required from the singers on the Secondo libro di madrigali a cinque voci and La Compagnia del Madrigale bring their muchpraised sensitivity to the text, balance of ensemble and dynamic control. In the booklet, both Marco Bizzarini and Giuseppe Maletto investigate the state of mind of this fascinating composer, over four centuries since his death. The substantial second part to this recording offers a set of contrasts with Book 2: nine tracks devoted to madrigalists inspired by Gesualdo’s style, from contemporaries in Nenna, Macque and Palazzotto Tagliavia to the later Sigismondo d’India. A veritable bonus! © Glossa
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Secular Vocal Music - Released May 24, 2019 | deutsche harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Without the help of blaring drums or castanets, culture-filled aesthete Paul van Nevel gives the opportunity to hear the music that Christopher Columbus heard during his travels and adventurous life. This has resulted in a rigorous selection of (many unknown) a capella works, by Italian and Spanish composers from the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Beginning with childhood memories of Christopher Columbus (a carnival song evoking an erotic joke about chimney sweeps), the album ends with pieces by Agricola most likely heard by the navigator at the end of his final voyage in 1506. This virtual musical journey begins in 15th century Venice and reaches the court of Ferdinand and Isabella in Madrid, Seville, Cordoba and Valladolid. This offers an exciting programme benefitting from the exceptional quality of singers of the Huelgas Ensemble, specialised in medieval and Renaissance polyphony and founded in 1971 by Paul van Nevel. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released May 3, 2019 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
On her first album under the label PentaTone, Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená returns to her first baroque loves, collaborating with her fellow countryman Václav Luks and his excellent Prague ensemble. Both a harpsichordist and a horn player, Václav Luks studied at Basel Schola Cantorum before founding the choir Collegium Vocale 1704 in 2005, made up of ninety Czech singers and musicians.Titled Giardino dei sospiri (garden of sighs), this new album is a collection of scenes from secular cantatas or oratorios that glorify tragic love. The tragic heroes highlighted here in various pages of George Frideric Handel, Leonardo Leo, Benedetto Marcello, Leonardo Vinci, Francesco Gasparini and Domenico Sarro find in Magdalena Kožená a staunch advocate, who perfectly lives up to the task! A multi-faceted musical drama unfolds in our ears, which was initially created as a staged project.“From manipulative Agrippina, who would stop at nothing to put her son Nero on the throne, to magician Armida bewitching Rinaldo, and the priestess Hero who couldn’t survive her lover Leander’s accidental death, Magdalena Kožená brings the legendary heroines to life, with all the depth and virtuosity of her singing”, reads the introduction of the show Magdalena Kožená and Václav Luks will perform on their European tour in spring 2019. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released April 5, 2019 | Arcana

Hi-Res Booklet
Despite the rivalry between the operatic companies leaded by Haendel and Porpora in London (1734-1737), much has to be said about the real nature of the connection between the two composers. Both the musicians were considered outstandingly original for their aesthetic choices. Both admired each other's music. The few whirlwind years of their defiance in Great Britain produced memorable scores: among them, Ariodante by Haendel and Polifemo by Porpora, performed with simultaneous runs in the city theaters. The fight between the two operatic company was an opportunity for the composers to meet and discover each other, to deal with the taste of the audience and to experiment new ideas, getting strength from the incredible skills of the members of the vocal casts (Farinelli, Senesino, Carestini, etc.). This album tries to capture the soul of such a complicated intellectual relationship, presenting significant exemples of the composers' style and outlining the borders of the mutual esteem between two giants in the history of music. On her debut solo album, the young talented mezzosoprano Giuseppina Bridelli performs with effortless bravery the difficult pages written for some of the most famous singers of the 18th century: between them, a version with original variations of Haendel Scherza infida. © Arcana
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Secular Vocal Music - Released March 21, 2019 | Coviello Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Cantatas (secular) - Released March 15, 2019 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
In a new recording of music by Alessandro Scarlatti, Josetxu Obregón’s La Ritirata parades its dazzling vocal and instrumental talents in presenting the four cantatas which involve recorders and violins, together with an additional standalone soprano aria, for a further Glossa Neapolitan-flavoured release. Drawn from his well over 800 secular cantatas these works combine fully-integrated, imaginative recitatives, expressive and dramatic arias and colourful and exacting instrumental sinfonias and ritornelli into elegant and compact wholes, and featuring poetic texts which typically followed the aspirations of the Accademia degli Arcadi literary circle initiated in Rome around the turn of the eighteenth century. The scene for Scarlatti’s prolific creativity is set by Stefano Russomanno in his booklet essay. The vocal duties are assigned to three leading interpreters of today, mezzo Giuseppina Bridelli, countertenor Filippo Mineccia and soprano Alicia Amo. Rising here to the instrumental challenges set by Scarlatti are long-standing members of La Ritirata, Tamar Lalo (recorder) and Hiro Kurosaki (violin), who are joined on their respective instruments by Michael Form and Pablo Prieto. With cellist Obregón, Lalo and Kurosaki had been the leading soloists for La Ritirata’s recent “Neapolitan Concertos for various instruments“ release. © Glossa
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Secular Vocal Music - Released March 1, 2019 | Da Capo

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Secular Vocal Music - Released March 1, 2019 | Signum Records

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The Choral Scholars of University College Dublin and Artistic Director Desmond Earley follow up their debut release with a programme of new choral music inspired by the evocative imagery of the natural world in traditional Irish and Scottish folksong and poetry. The disc includes a number of world-premiere recordings of new works and arrangements commissioned by the choir. The Choral Scholars of University College Dublin, under the artistic direction of Desmond Earley, is Ireland’s leading collegiate choral ensemble. His large repertoire is ranging from art to popular music, and stretching from the medieval to the contemporary in style.
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Secular Vocal Music - Released January 25, 2019 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
Mezzo-soprano Eva Zaïcik, who has signed up with Alpha for several recordings, is one of the most prominent vocal artists of her generation. She was chosen as ‘Révélation lyrique’ at the Victoires de la Musique Classique 2018, and elected the same year a Laureate of the prestigious Queen Elizabeth of Belgium Competition. She has participated in the “Jardin des Voix” of les Arts Florissants under William Christie, also regularly collaborates with Le Poème Harmonique and Vincent Dumestre – but her constant accompanist is the harpsichordist Justin Taylor. Together with two other musician graduates, the violinists Théotime Langlois de Swarte, Sophie de Bardonnèche and the gamba player Louise Pierrard, they have founded Le Consort, to explore both sacred and secular works by composers such as Charpentier, Campra and Clérambault. For this recording they are joined by the flautist Anna Besson and gamba player Lucile Boulanger, both well-known to the Alpha label, and Thibault Roussel (theorbo). This recording is devoted to the Cantatas of Lefebvre, Montéclair, Clérambault and Courbois, more than half of which have never previously been recorded. The cantata inspired non-operatic composers to play out the fashionable narratives of the day on a reduced scale, and in the intimate surroundings of the salons. It is a subtle genre and a vivid depiction of the characters. © Outhere Music
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Secular Vocal Music - Released January 4, 2019 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
With Vieni, dolce Imeneo, La Compagnia del Madrigale make another important halt on their compelling journey across the territory of Italian secular song with a disc devoted to one of the most significant, yet these days somewhat bypassed, composers: Cipriano de Rore. De Rore was a Fleming who enjoyed great success notably in the Italian courts of Ferrara and Parma – but with a prestige which extended up and across Europe. He composed in many genres, but it is the secular madrigal – recorded here – where his skill was most valued, for example in creating extended and expressive melodic lines coupled with innovatory pre-echoes of the “seconda pratica” so triumphantly expressed – albeit amidst great criticism – by Claudio Monteverdi. Recordings – all also on Glossa – of madrigals by Marenzio, Gesualdo and Monteverdi have already demonstrated musical pleasures such as an uncommon vocal blend and delicacy, and a meticulous dynamic control exhibited by the richly experienced members of La Compagnia del Madrigale, and those delights are to be experienced with these 19 madrigals by Cipriano de Rore, composed late in his career. With texts by Petrarch, Ariosto and assorted court poets for these madrigals, essay-writer Marco Bizzarini highlights one of the principal characteristic features of de Rore’s mastery when he points to the disc’s title track, Vieni, dolce Imeneo: the ideal union between poetry and music. © Glossa
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Cantatas (secular) - Released December 7, 2018 | CPO

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 30, 2018 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
This recital by the countertenor Xavier Sabata, accompanied by Arnadí's Vespres ensemble, takes its title "L'Alessandro amante" from a lost homonymous opera by Giovanni Boretti. Why Alexander the Great? He is the most exploited historical figure in the history of opera, especially in the Baroque period, with Metastasio’s libretto Alessandro nell'Indie basing some sixty-five operas on the figure. Moreover, the historical Alexander was a complex figure, a mixture of violence, arrogance and ambition, but also a generous man, knowing how to recognize the humanity of an enemy by considering them his equal. The journey onto which his figure invites us is twofold: a biographical journey through battles, conquests and achievements first (not always historically accurate, mind...), as well as a musical journey through a hundred years, from 1660 to 1760, at a time when immense changes were occurring almost every twenty years. We therefore travel from Antonio Draghi to Nicola Porpora, via Handel, Leo, Bononcini and a few others in the same vein. The recital offers as many different "Alexanders" as it does pieces, though two major groups emerge: Alexander the warrior, reserved for higher voices, and Alexander the lover, whose melodies are entrusted to the alto register. Of course, Sabata can cover both poles. © SM/Qobuz
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Cantatas (secular) - Released November 23, 2018 | Erato

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Record of the Month - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik