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Chamber Music - Released January 11, 2019 | Signature - Radio France

Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Outstanding musicians in an exceptional programme, stamped with rhythmic energy from start to finish, featuring Florent Schmitt's Opus 68, Albert Roussel's Opus 28 et the Sonata for violin and piano of André Prévost (1934-2001).
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Violin Concertos - Released November 16, 2018 | LSO Live

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Duets - Released November 9, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
At a time when Mozart was writing his first sonatas for violin and clavier, in 1778, it was the done thing to write piano sonatas with violin accompaniment in which the violin part is fairly unobtrusive. The purpose of this was not to put off the target audience for the scores: educated amateurs. But Mozart paid no heed to this convention and took off into a new world with real duets, in which the two instruments found themselves on an even footing. At the same time, he avoided the corrective exaggeration which would appear in some scores which resembled violin concertos with a little piano support. Here we have a perfect balance between the two players: Isabelle Faust on the violin and Alexander Melnikov at the clavier. The latter of the two plays on a copy of a Viennese fortepiano made in 1795 by Anton Walter. The sound balance is utterly perfect, which is a relief, as all too often these sonatas either favour the keyboard part when played on the piano or the violinist tries to force it. We have here two sonatas written in Paris shortly after the death of Mozart's mother (who accompanied him on the journey), and then another from 1787 written in the wake of Leopold Mozart's death. Despite this the composer seems to be putting on a brave face, flashing a smile tinged with a tender nostalgia on the Sonata in E Minor K. 304. © SM/Qobuz
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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.
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Violin Concertos - Released September 28, 2018 | naïve classique

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Fabio Biondi had his work cut out for him with the complete recordings of Vivaldi's violin concertos, as the Venetian left behind more than 250 works for one, two, three or four violins. Volume VI here offers a group of six concertos written in Prague and Bohemia in the course of his stay there between 1730 and 1731. Today, musicology has become much more of a science, and it is possible to put a date on these manuscripts by means of a precise analysis of the paper used by the composer if the music doesn't speak for itself. The Antonio Vivaldi of these pieces retains the style for which he is known and loved across Europe. Fabio Biondi notes that as there are only a few hints of Bohemian music in these concertos, which are more resemblant of Vivaldi's younger work. We might conclude that while abroad, the composer was writing pieces which, while new, were destined for use by his beloved students in the Pietà. Venetian chroniclers from the time often wrote of Vivaldi's virtuoso violin playing, admiring the inventiveness that he brought to the cadenzas of his concertos (the section at the end of a movement which is left open for creative improvisation) and the fantasy that he worked into his improvisations. While we have no proof that Vivaldi was the soloist for his own works during his Bohemian trip, Fabio Biondi, a true connoisseur of Vivaldi's style, clearly aims to apply this spirit to his recordings, and nowhere more so than here. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Duets - Released September 14, 2018 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
The violin sonatas of Johannes Brahms were the product of much self-critical reflection, and the three surviving works are from a composer mature in years. Composed around the same time as the Violin Concerto (No. 1), the Piano Trio in C Minor and the Cello Sonata No. 2 (Nos. 2 and 3), they also echo some of his songs, such as those written to poems by Klaus Groth. Into this Romantic atmosphere come new performances of the three works on Glossa, played by violinist Leila Schayegh (particularly awarded for her recordings of Bach, Caldara and Benda), teaming up here with pianist Jan Schultsz. Schayegh plays a copy of a period violin, whilst Schultsz uses an original 1879 Streicher instrument. The two players aim to recapture the performing tradition as the composer would have known it, and within which he would have intended his pieces to have been played. Schayegh and Schultsz worked with Clive Brown and Neal Peres Da Costa in their efforts to aim for “the spirit rather than the dead letter of the score” and they pay admirable notice of important interpretative questions for music of this time – and they provide an intuitive musical and emotional response to the lyricism of the first two sonatas and the darker-hued tones of the third, investing these late-nineteenth-century works. © Glossa
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Violin Concertos - Released August 24, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Chouchane Siranossian is a rising star of the baroque and classical violin, Jakob Lehmann a virtuoso violinist and orchestral director who frequently conducts Anima Eterna. Together, they embody what the Bruges orchestra and its founder, Jos van Immerseel, have decided to call the ‘Next Generation Anima Eterna’... Today they are presenting Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in its original version. “We wanted to take a look into Mendelssohn’s workshop. He struggled with his self-diagnosed ‘revision disease’ and always strove to work hard on himself and his creations” says Jakob Lehmann. Chouchane Siranossian keeps on : “It was a fascinating experience for me to discover historical research and its implementation on period instruments in collaboration with Anima Eterna Brugge. In my interpretation, I used exclusively the fingerings, bowings and other performance markings of Ferdinand David and Joseph Joachim, both of whom rehearsed the work with the composer.” This recording is rounded off with the Octet, also in its original version, which is longer and has many alterations in instrumentation, harmony and articulation... © Alpha Classics
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Duets - Released August 10, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Two young Belgian soloists—including Lorenzo Gatto, despite the Italian consonance of the name—have been gathering for several years around Beethoven, and here is their interpretation of three Beethoven sonatas: the First written even before the end of the 18th Century—1798—, followed by the very last that is the Tenth Op. 96 from 1812—created by the infamous Pierre Rode on violin, and the archduke Rudolph of Austria who, incidentally, must have been an amazing pianist—, to finish with one of the most famous ones, the Fifth called “The Spring Sonata” (a name not chosen by the composer). Despite dating “only” from 1801, this sonata is incredibly different from the First regarding its architectural maturity, its intense lyricism and its audacities of all kinds. Gatto, who won the Queen Elisabeth Competition, plays on nothing less than the Stradivarius “Joachim”, while Libeer, a chamber music enthusiast, has a field day on a big concert piano with parallel strings and of an almost orchestral sound. Their first volume, released in 2016, was more than noticed by the critics and the audience—and was a great success on Qobuz. © SM/Qobuz
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Violin Concertos - Released June 22, 2018 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
While Max Bruch's First Concerto was recorded, re-recorded and over-recorded to the nth degree, we can't say the same of Bruch's very elegant Scottish Fantasy Enter Joshua Bell, the new artistic director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, both playing the violin and heading up an ensemble to offer us both the Concerto – which he had recorded about thirty years ago with Marriner – and the Fantasy, a discographic first for him. This Fantasy, written in 1880 after the Second Concerto, was Sarasate but first performed by Joachim. The composer weaves it together from an infinitely elegant tissue of themes, and melodic impressions of Scotland, real or imagined. Joshua Bell, of Scottish descent himself, swims like a wild salmon through the clear waters of lochs and highland torrents, while the orchestra, clearly rapt, offers him a beautiful foil. © SM/Qobuz
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Concertos - Released June 15, 2018 | CPO

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Everyone knows Mendelssohn's violin concerto, at least the one in E Minor; and his piano concertos are reasonably well-known. But what about this concerto for piano and violin? Ha! To be sure, it's a work from his youth (to say the least): the work dates from 1823, when Mendelssohn was just 14 years old, but already displaying stupefying talents. This double concerto appears to have been written for private Sunday concerts in the family home; and yes, we can hear a few classical accents from Mozart and Beethoven (the latter was still alive!), and from Weber too in the sunnier moments, but the melodic development is already typically Mendelssohnian. Here we have the original version with string orchestra, because shortly after its first performance at the Sunday sessions it was re-written with wind and timpani. As for the Violin Concerto in D Minor, it is the work of a composer who is still young, just thirteen, although this version contains the revision that he made a few years later – more compact movements, and a complete third movement, as the first draft of 1822 only sketched the third movement in outline. Here, too, one is just gobsmacked by the maturity of the writer; were it by anyone other than Mendelssohn, there would be an uproar about this overlooked genius – even if the writer were an adult – whereas, as it's Mendelssohn, what people focus on is merely the youthfulness of the work. Just like we do, in this review… © SM/Qobuz
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Violin Concertos - Released June 1, 2018 | DOREMI

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Chamber Music - Released May 25, 2018 | EnPhases

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Out of around 350 works which are attributed to Tartini today, a group of sonatas, along with their isolated themes, sketches and hastily-jotted-down ideas stands out by virtue of the very long period of editing which they underwent (from the 1750s up to the composer's death twenty years later); their deliberate collation into a single manuscript by the author (never published in spite of its gobsmacking richness); but also by virtue of their unique instrumentation, with a solo violin, but no bass at all, either written or suggested. They seem to indicate a kind of intimate conversation with their author, who never intended to share them with anyone. He dubbed them "little sonatas", a name which probably owes as much to false modesty as it does to affection to these pages, whose experimental nature is made clearer at every turn. A number of other pieces, as well, remain annotated in the form of sketches, phrases thrown down on the page in a moment of inspiration, and a few of these phrases are taken up by violinist Matthieu Camilleri, to distil a very original ensemble of improvised pieces. He notes, though, that these improvisations have been "fixed" to an extent, on paper; and these are recording sessions, not a concert, so the artists can choose the best from several takes. The guided improvisation inspired by Tartini and in the style of the great musician, who was said to have conversed with the Devil. Camilleri gives us a number of reference points, in the form of a few sonatas originally 100% written by Tartini in this famous manuscript, which also involve a few moments of this improvised-noted element. It's a fascinating juxtaposition of two imaginations, two and a half centuries apart! © SM/Qobuz
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Violin Solos - Released May 25, 2018 | LSO Live

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Violin Concertos - Released May 4, 2018 | Accent

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Josef Mysliveček (1737-1781) also known as "Il Divino Boemo" (The Divine Bohemian) was one of the most celebrated opera composers in Italy in the 1770s. His instrumental works - symphonies, concertos, octets, quartets, and trios - were as popular as his vocal music. Certain features of his melodic style reflect his Bohemian origins, and Mysliveček's influence on contemporaries was significant. A close friend of the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a musical influence on him, Mozart described his character as "full of fire, spirit and life". All nine of the Mysliveček violin concertos that survive in complete form were probably written in a short period during the late 1760s and early 1770s when the composer maintained close contacts with the city of Padua and the composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini. As a representative of Italian traditions that extended back to the early eighteenth century, Mysliveček’s violin concertos are all cast in three movements of the pattern ‘fast-slow-fast’. “From this music one can hear that the author was also a superb opera composer: the quickly alternating themes are well defined in character, whether sounding serious or boisterous, pleading or alluring, questioning or majestic, friendly or imperious. Figuratively, we find ourselves on the opera stage.” (Leila Schayegh) © Accent/Note-1
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Violin Concertos - Released April 27, 2018 | Berlin Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Undesired babies, in this case little girls, were dropped off in the famous convent, conservatory and orphanage of the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, where Vivaldi was a violin teacher and main composer for a long time. Many of these girls, once adults, became musicians and quite a few of them reached the highest level of recognition. For one of these pupils, by the name of Anna-Maria dal Violin (the “dal Violin” wasn’t her last name, but rather a nickname highlighting her ability as a musician), Vivaldi wrote twenty-five concertos, a shining proof of her tremendous mastery; to the extent that, it seems, people came from afar to listen to her perform. Listen only in fact, not see her, as young ladies had to play behind a screen so that it was impossible to have the slightest glimpse at their appearance. But Rousseau did manage to catch one in 1743: "If you are so desirous," said an ambassador to him, "to see those little girls, it will be an easy matter to satisfy your wishes. I entering the saloon, which contained these beauties I so much sighed to see, I felt a trembling of love, which I had never before experienced. Mr le Blond presented to me, one after the other, these celebrated female singers, of whom the names and voices were all with which I was acquainted. Come, Sophia − she was horrid. Come, Cattina − she had but one eye. Come, Bettina − the smallpox had entirely disfigured her. Violinist Midori Seiler, accompanied by the Concerto Köln, selected a nice handful of concertos written for the aforementioned Anna-Maria. Granted we’ll never know how she played, but one can get an idea of a few of her tendencies, as the young lady kept a musical journal in which she wrote a few variants for the second movement of the Concerto RV270a that can be heard here. In parallel, this selection also features a concerto by Galuppi and another by Albinoni, that are both in a similar vein, although they weren’t written for Anna-Maria. In tune with the custom/etiquette of the Ospedale, the Concerto Köln didn’t hesitate to add in the partition a few moments of woodwinds doubling on the chords: flutes, oboes and even chalumeau, the ancestor of the clarinet that Vivaldi himself used a few times in his concertos. © SM/Qobuz
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Duets - Released April 13, 2018 | Fuga Libera

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
"French" works (although Ysaÿe was Belgian…) from 1877 with Fauré's First Sonata through to 1908's Extase by Ysaÿe: that's what is on offer here from French violinist Saténik Khourdoïan, a regular at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Radio-France Philharmonic the Orchestre de Marseille, Roque-d’Anthéron, the Grange du Meslay, the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, France-Musique and France-Culture – and we should also mention that she is the first solo violin of the Monnaie de Bruxelles. Her selection shines a light on a whole range of French art which stands resolutely off to one side of the idiosyncratic route sketched out by Debussy: Saint-Saëns, Fauré and Ysaÿe will always remain in the ambit of rigorously-written French romanticism. The Caprice en forme de valse by Saint-Saëns, in its wild transcription by Ysaÿe, gives us a sense of the real value of Saténik Khourdoïan's undertaking. This is an excellent calling card for a violinist who has still got plenty to say. © SM/Qobuz
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Duets - Released March 30, 2018 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Duets - Released March 23, 2018 | Arcana

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
As not indicated by its title, this album offers duos for two violins, a very wide repertoire that is however rarely recorded. “Suite Case” is simply the name of the first piece, penned by Giovanni Solima and precisely dedicated to our two soloists, Chiara Zanisi and Stefano Barneschi, followed by an impressive range of works written between the middle of the Baroque era and the present times with Bartók and Berio. It is worth noting that these pieces for two violins, a formation rather ill-suited for public concerts, had two distinct vocations: a pedagogic use, as is the case for Bartók’s 44 Duos (with a very pronounced insistence on Magyar folklore) and Haydn with his Three easy and progressive duos for two violins, whose name says it all; and a family use, like Telemann’s Canons mélodieux ou sonates en duo à flûtes traverses, ou violons, ou basses de viole (melodious canons or six duo-sonatas for traversos, or violins, or viola da gambas)—the composer, an excellent businessman, aimed at any and every possible buyer who wished to have small domestic concerts with any combination of two instruments. Only Vivaldi’s duo—at least for the repertoire of that era—seems to have been meant for a pair of virtuoso, a bit intrinsically: the language is neither for students nor for enlightened amateurs, given its difficulty. Curiously, the partition notes that the bass is optional… Even if it is not written, any harpsichordist could have improvised it in continuo. Solima’s piece acts as a guide for the album, opening and closing it. © SM/Qobuz
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Violin Concertos - Released March 9, 2018 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
The almost complete disappearance of Hjalmar Borgström’s music from the repertoire is fully explainable by reasons not related to the quality of the music, but rather concerning a mismatch between the composer and the dominating trends in Norwegian music. Like Grieg in the preceding generation, Borgström went to study in Leipzig as from 1887. However, in contrast to Grieg who returned from Germany firmly resolved to carve out an authentic, Norwegian idiom, Borgström remained in Germany for a long time, immersing himself in the aesthetics of contemporary music there. When he returned to Norway for good in 1903, he was a staunch proponent of new German symphonic music. This conviction – or rather, his lack of interest in developing a national idiom – hampered his career in Norway. Grieg himself reportedly expressed bafflement at the phenomenon of a younger Norwegian composer, so obviously gifted and well trained as a musical craftsman – but with nothing specifically ‘Norwegian’ about his music. Borgström’s Violin Concerto was first performed at the 1914 Jubilee exhibition, a celebration of the centenary of the Norwegian constitution. A cultivation of national identity in the 1800s had developed into a near frenzy around the time the union with Sweden was dissolved in 1905. The cultural climate was thus very much in favour of presenting new Norwegian music, and the concerto was well received. It did not establish itself in the repertoire, however, receiving only a few performances in the following decades. The concerto is in the conventional three movements and, in keeping with its neutral title, does not have any explicit programme. Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto was composed a few decades later than Borgström’s Concerto. This work too is marked by the uneasy fit between its composer and his environment. The difficulties Shostakovich experienced at the time were quite literally a matter of life and death. The post-war years saw the official denouncement of music containing ‘formalistic distortions and anti-democratic trends alien to the Soviet people’, in the words of the infamous decree by Zhdanov from 1948. Shostakovich, Prokofiev and others – that is, almost every composer of any significance in the Soviet Union – were accused of negating the basic principles of classical music. Shostakovich’s reaction to the Zhdanov doctrine was to follow two paths simultaneously. In public, he wrote ‘light’ music and film scores, works that paid the bills and would cause no problems with the authorities. In private, he composed the music that he wanted to write, music that met his own high artistic and intellectual standards but would have no chance of being performed in public. The First Violin Concerto falls decisively into the second category. A champion of Norway’s rich musical tradition, Eldbjørg Hemsing has been performing on some of the world’s most prestigious stages since the age of 11, when she made her solo début with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. Her star rose when she gave a globally televised performance at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in Oslo. A regular guest soloist with some of the world’s top ensembles, she is honoured to count the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony 8 Orchestra, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (Ireland), Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Czech National Symphony Orchestra and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra among her most active orchestral partners. © SM/Qobuz
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Duets - Released January 19, 2018 | Bridge Records

Distinctions 5 de Diapason