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Classical - Released September 24, 2021 | Phi

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Philippe Herreweghe proposes here his third recording devoted to a controversial figure in the world of music and art in general: Carlo Gesualdo, who had his wife murdered and is suspected of having his son smothered. This time Collegium Vocale Gent performs his Fifth Book of Madrigals (1611), published two years before his death. A collection that even today contributes to the eternal debate: to what extent does art become impregnated with reality, and how can it be appreciated when it emanates from a mind living so close to horror? Here the bold dissonances and sometimes tortured expressiveness that can be perceived in his harmonic language offer food for thought. Can we speak of redemption through art for a murderous composer in the twilight of his life? © Phi
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Classical - Released March 19, 2021 | Phi

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New recordings. After a widely acclaimed St. John Passion in 2020, Philippe Herreweghe and his Collegium Vocale Gent continue their in-depth exploration of the works of the composer who has earned them worldwide fame. Of the two cantatas recorded here, Es ist dir gesagt, Mensch, was gut ist BWV 45, written in 1726, is built around a very virtuosic, almost operatic bass solo setting scriptural words of Christ. Laß, Fürstin, laß noch einen Strahl, BWV 198, which dates from the following year, was composed for the funeral of Christiane Eberhardine, Electress of Saxony and titular Queen of Poland, the daughter of the Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth and an ardent Lutheran, whose death had deeply affected the people of Leipzig. These works are accompanied by the soothing, luminous motet O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht (BWV118), also composed for a funeral service in 1736 or 1737. © Phi
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Classical - Released June 1, 2011 | Phi

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In this exemplary recording of six Bach motets Philippe Herreweghe leads Collegium Vocale Ghent (an ensemble that includes both singers and instrumentalists) and ten soloists in performances of exceptional finesse and elegance. That's no easy task given the dense contrapuntal textures that characterizes several of the motets written for double chorus and orchestra. It takes great skill to keep the music, in a movement like the opening to "Singet dem Herr ein neues Lied," from turning into a murky undifferentiated stew of busyness, but Herreweghe keeps the sound open and varied. One crucial element is the absolutely pristine intonation and pure tone of the singers, which makes the harmonies clear and distinct. Herreweghe's graceful shaping of the phrases creates the sense of overlapping waves rising and falling rather than a monolithic wall of sound. The choruses' discipline in their precise observance of producing matching vowels is another factor that allows the intricacies of the music to come across as clean and well-defined. Although it is scored it for the same forces, in Komm, Jesu, komm Bach works with gleaming, transparent textures, where the felicities of Herreweghe's leadership and the refinement of the soloists, choruses, and orchestra are even more clearly in evidence. His attention to the emotional content of the piece gives the music a powerfully yearning warmth that, in spite of the large number of performers, feels intensely intimate. The engineers deserve much credit for creating such a carefully balanced aural environment, where details pop with amazing clarity and the sound is at the same time warm and enveloping. This is a release best experienced on a sound system that provides optimal separation and definition. Highly recommended; these are performances that should delight and dazzle fans of Baroque choral music. © TiVo
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Choirs (sacred) - Released June 1, 2011 | Phi

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In this exemplary recording of six Bach motets Philippe Herreweghe leads Collegium Vocale Ghent (an ensemble that includes both singers and instrumentalists) and ten soloists in performances of exceptional finesse and elegance. That's no easy task given the dense contrapuntal textures that characterizes several of the motets written for double chorus and orchestra. It takes great skill to keep the music, in a movement like the opening to "Singet dem Herr ein neues Lied," from turning into a murky undifferentiated stew of busyness, but Herreweghe keeps the sound open and varied. One crucial element is the absolutely pristine intonation and pure tone of the singers, which makes the harmonies clear and distinct. Herreweghe's graceful shaping of the phrases creates the sense of overlapping waves rising and falling rather than a monolithic wall of sound. The choruses' discipline in their precise observance of producing matching vowels is another factor that allows the intricacies of the music to come across as clean and well-defined. Although it is scored it for the same forces, in Komm, Jesu, komm Bach works with gleaming, transparent textures, where the felicities of Herreweghe's leadership and the refinement of the soloists, choruses, and orchestra are even more clearly in evidence. His attention to the emotional content of the piece gives the music a powerfully yearning warmth that, in spite of the large number of performers, feels intensely intimate. The engineers deserve much credit for creating such a carefully balanced aural environment, where details pop with amazing clarity and the sound is at the same time warm and enveloping. This is a release best experienced on a sound system that provides optimal separation and definition. Highly recommended; these are performances that should delight and dazzle fans of Baroque choral music. © TiVo
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released February 17, 2014 | Phi

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Classical - Released October 8, 2012 | Phi

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Classical - Released August 20, 1996 | harmonia mundi

This is a rather brisk reading of Brahms' masterpiece, the most ambitious work in his output, one of the greatest compositions of its type. When I listen to this piece, I often sit numb, in awe of its profound beauty, of its emotional range and intellectual depth. I hadn't heard it for some time, so this recording occasioned a most welcome reacquaintance. Though Herreweghe's tempos often pushed the music to its limits here (except for the first section), the performance never actually sounded fast, or at least not offensively fast. In fact, it challenges my previous favorite, the Levine/RCA. Funny, but both recordings are rather opposites: Levine's is weighty and glorious, where Herreweghe's is ecstatic and animated. The former has the better soloists in Kathleen Battle and Hakan Hagegard, and the better supporting forces in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, advantages that would seem to tilt the scales in favor of the RCA. But those seeming pluses can be deceptive. In fact, I think Herreweghe may actually have a superior interpretation, perhaps hitting closer to the spirit of the Requiem as Brahms conceived it: the composer's work aims toward the human side of the issue, depicting mourning, all right, but offering consolation, instead of expressing the grimness of the Last Judgment. Try Herreweghe's positively rapturous ending of the third section, starting from around 7:00. Levine here goes slower and is convincing in his way. Both offer good opening sections (Selig sind), although here it is Herreweghe who goes slower, and to good effect. In the end, this Harmonia Mundi Brahms Requiem is thoroughly compelling and suffers from no weaknesses: if the soloists are not as good as Levine's, they're not much inferior either, and they certainly convey the requisite drama, religiosity, humanity and sorrow with total conviction. On the evidence here, I'd say Finley should be better known. Oelze's contribution isn't to be overlooked either, but she comes up short when compared with Battle. The choral and orchestral support on this Harmonia Mundi release are first-rate. The notes are informative, and full texts are provided; sound reproduction is superb. In sum, this is a major effort by all parties involved, and takes its place among the most distinguished Brahms Requiems. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 28, 2016 | Phi

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Classical - Released May 11, 2018 | Phi

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This is a long way from the richness of the gilt and mosaics of Venice's San Marco, in this new Vespro della Beata Vergine by Claudio Monteverdi, recorded by Philippe Herreweghe in the summer of 2017. Above all, the Flemish chief is interested in intimacy; and he knows this extraordinary score like the back of his hand, having conducted it very often, recording it for the first time in 1986 (for harmonia mundi) with the Collegium Vocale Gent, La Chapelle Royale and the Sacqueboutiers of Toulouse. Philippe Herreweghe is looking for the purest possible expression of piety, using a whole range of methods with sophistication, and a sparse but perfect unity between the vocal soloists and the solo instrumentalists. In this masterpiece, which represents an audacious alloy of the "stile antico" and the "stile moderno", it seems that Philippe Herreweghe wanted to highlight the former. With its famous Virgin, flanked by Della Robbia's saints and the mystery of its catacombs which lead who-knows-where, the beautiful church of San Francesco di Asciano, not far from Siena, is being used more and more for concerts and recordings: does its inspiring ambiance call out for music? © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 3, 2014 | Phi

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Classical - Released May 21, 2012 | Phi

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The recorded repertoire of Belgian conductor Philippe Herreweghe is centered on Bach, but stretches from the Renaissance to Mahler and Bruckner. Regardless of era, he seems to do best in sober, complex structures that he can unpack with a combination of perfect control and great surface beauty. He has rarely obtained more perfect results than with this recording of works by the towering figure of the Spanish Renaissance, Tomás Luís de Victoria. The Officium Defunctorum, described in the album annotations as a swan song, in fact fulfilled that role both for its dedicatee, the Empress Maria of Spain (Victoria's longtime employer), and for Victoria himself, who wrote nothing else after publishing this music in 1605; he died in 1611. The Offices consist of a requiem mass (Missa pro defunctis), a pair of motets, and a Libera me separate from the mass. The collection seems disparate, but everything is knit together in Victoria's setting. Each section absorbs plainchant seamlessly into the texture, and the overall somber mood is broken by the anguished pleas of the Offertory, asking God for deliverance from the trials of Hell. Herreweghe deploys a 13-voice version (all adults, mixed gender) of his Collegium Vocale here; many of the singers are stars of modest repute on their own, and the vocal textures he draws from them are awesomely rich despite the restricted palette of the music. A selection of Victoria motets rounds out the program, and any one of them would be worth the purchase price. Renaissance choral singing just does not get better than this. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 12, 2012 | Phi

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Philippe Herreweghe's 2011 recording of Ludwig van Beethoven's Missa Solemnis in D major receives high marks, not only for the elegant period treatment, but also for the profound conviction of the performance. The Collegium Vocale Ghent and the Orchestre des Champs-Élysées deliver the music with a somewhat smaller sound than one usually hears in modern performances; the Classical proportions of the ensembles allow details to stand out with utter clarity and the choral parts to move with greater fluidity and transparency than permitted with much larger choruses. Herreweghe's attention to the authentic instrumentation and distinctive tone colors reveals Beethoven's subtle orchestration, and the modest scale of forces permits the balancing of voices and orchestra into a lucid blend. Soprano Marlis Petersen, mezzo-soprano Gerhild Romberger, tenor Benjamin Hulett, and bass David Wilson-Johnson sing with great control and clear diction, and their quartet passages are remarkably coherent, despite the occasional awkwardness of Beethoven's vocal writing. Yet for all the separate features that contribute to the excellence of this rendition, their combination under Herreweghe's leadership makes this an organic and unified interpretation that is compelling for its vitality and emotional depth. Far from an exercise in historical re-creation, Herreweghe's Missa Solemnis has the ring of expressive truth, and the musicians' commitment makes this a worthy CD for any Beethoven collection. © TiVo
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Classical - Released March 1, 2019 | Alpha Classics

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Franz Liszt was 67 when he composed his Via Crucis, yet it did not receive its first performance until 1929, 43 years after the composer’s death. This work of his mature years is in 15 sections, retracing the Stations of the Cross that mark the stages of Christ’s Passion, from being condemned to death to being laid in the tomb. Combining Gregorian chant, the Lutheran liturgy and the Latin, German and Aramaic languages, the Via Crucis shows real formal originality. A devout believer, Liszt gives us here his most important sacred work. He composed several versions: for mixed choir, soloists and organ (with the organ part optionally transcribed for piano), for piano solo, organ solo, and two pianos. After a first programme devoted to Janáček, the Collegium Vocale founded by Philippe Herreweghe is once again conducted by Reinbert de Leeuw in this Alpha recording. © Outhere
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Classical - Released March 18, 2013 | Ricercar