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Full Operas - Released October 7, 2010 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording
With Die Zauberflöte, René Jacobs continues his exemplary traversal of Mozart operas, having already recorded the da Ponte operas, La Clemenza di Tito, and Idomeneo. Jacobs has not only a formidable knowledge of historically informed performance practice, but a bold inventiveness and originality, and in the comedies, a bubbling, earthy wit. He is a master of comic timing, and there are many moments in Die Zauberflöte when he gives a lift or a pause to a phrase that's generally treated as routine, and spotlights a significant gleam of mirth or insight that might easily have gone unnoticed. For any listener who has loved this opera but has become jaded from overexposure to run-of the-mill or cute performances, Jacobs' version is likely to re-kindle a passion for its many delights. In the program notes he writes that it is "an exciting challenge to make the dialogue so lively and varied that listeners are not tempted to skip from one musical number to the next," and his success easily outstrips expectations. He simply offers so many surprises (some that might be considered daring or insufficiently respectful of the score) that even listeners who know the opera forward and backward will be kept on their toes. In his notes, however, Jacobs makes a scrupulous and systematic account for each of the apparent eccentricities of his interpretation, citing the libretto itself or the performing practices of Mozart's day. An example of his non-traditional approach is his treatment of the very long spoken interaction with Tamino, Papageno, and the Three Ladies that follows "Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja," in which he interjects sound effects and musical snippets and underscores some dialogue with improvisations on the fortepiano, in the manner of a melodram. The Three Ladies are so giddy that they sometimes can't help bursting into song, using music Mozart wrote but discarded before the premiere. Jacobs has a cast with the dramatic chops to pull off these hijinks with panache and naturalness so that they are genuinely funny without seeming silly. And they can sing! Few are international superstars; most are early in their careers, but they are attuned to the subtleties of singing Mozart and for the most part deliver outstanding performances. Daniel Behle's Tamino is pure and robustly heroic, and as Pamina, Marlis Petersen has a lovely lyrical innocence and plenty of strength. Daniel Schmutzhard and Sunhae Im as the secondary couple are absolutely secure vocally, and they bring a gleeful whimsicality to their roles. Anna-Kristiina Kaappola doesn't have as large a voice as is usually associated with the Queen of the Night, but it is consistent from its bottom to its stratospheric top, and her coloratura has a shimmering majesty. One gets the impression that her Queen is a physically small woman with a huge personality, a terrifying virago who sounds like she is spitting nails when she is angry. The smaller roles -- with Inga Kalna, Anna Grevelius, and Isabelle Druet as the Three Ladies, Kurt Azesberger as Monastatos, and Konstantin Wolff as the Speaker -- are all sung and acted beautifully. Marcos Fink doesn't quite have adequate vocal heft for the role, but his voice is warmly enveloping, and he makes an exceptionally humane and fatherly Sarastro; it's easy to see why the young lovers come to trust him. Jacobs' ensembles, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and RIAS Kammerchor, are entirely sensitive to the flexibility of his leadership and play and sing with spontaneous exuberance. The sound of Harmonia Mundi's beautifully produced album is wonderfully clean and lifelike, with excellent depth, clarity, and definition. Highly recommended.
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released March 11, 2013 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 4 étoiles Classica - Qobuzissime - Hi-Res Audio
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Full Operas - Released October 9, 2012 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Disque de la semaine France Musique - Choc de Classica - Hi-Res Audio
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Full Operas - Released August 15, 2007 | harmonia mundi

Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc du Monde de la Musique - 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released October 7, 2013 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - Hi-Res Audio
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Full Operas - Released October 4, 2011 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released October 7, 2013 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet + Video Distinctions Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - Hi-Res Audio
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released January 19, 2015 | harmonia mundi

Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - 4 étoiles Classica
One of the legendary discs of René Jacobs : the Lamentations of Jeremiah treated "à la française" by the most Italianate composer of the Grand Siècle. This recording made in 1982 has become established over the decades as the essential benchmark in this repertory.
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Full Operas - Released May 22, 2009 | harmonia mundi

Distinctions Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released August 15, 2007 | harmonia mundi

Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama
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Classical - Released February 16, 2015 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
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Opera - Released November 29, 2019 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Created in 1804 in Vienna before an audience of French officers, none of whom understood any German, Beethoven’s only opera, Leonore, was not successful. Based on a true story which took place during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution -- the story of an intrepid young woman who dresses up as a man in an attempt to rescue her husband, a victim of arbitrary arrest and imprisoned in a dark cell -- Beethoven took his inspiration from several sources. The story, very in keeping with the troubled times, was indeed put to music in 1798 by the French composer Pierre Gaveaux from a libretto by Nicolas Bouilly, then again a little while later in Italian, in 1804 in a smaller-scale work by Ferdinando Paër. The Italian-German composer Simon Mayr then created a “sentimental farce” in Padua not long after Beethoven’s Leonore. Having dreamed of a tragically utopian level of universal human fraternity his whole life, as well as the image of a couple whose relationship is ideally based on marriage and loyalty, Beethoven had found a story which perfectly corresponded to his own political opinions, formed as a result of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution (before the emergence of Napoleon’s power). We now know that he reworked this lyrical work twice, turning it into the format we know it as today with its new name Fidelio. For René Jacobs, the original 1804 version is preferable to the successive amendments and deletions which were made. And we can’t blame him for this, his new recording highlighting all the beauty and modernity of this unfortunately destined first version of Leonore. In 1804, Beethoven has all his resources at his disposal: it’s the year of the Eroica symphony and the Appassionata sonata. By means of his directorial verve, his acute sense of theatrics and a distinguishably well-chosen cast, René Jacobs does this original version of Leonore justice in all its wonder, with all the delights which Beethoven, worried about being portrayed at the opera, ruthlessly scored from his work. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released December 1, 1991 | harmonia mundi

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released March 25, 2016 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica
The external graphics of this recording of Bach's St. John Passion by conductor René Jacobs and the RIAS Kammerchor, with a similar set of soloists to those who appeared on Jacobs' St. Matthew Passion recording, promise various innovations, and the notes delve into more. A DVD version of the performance is included. The recording offers the usual 1749 "revised" version of the work, adding material from the 1725 version in both the CD and the download versions, and including some interesting reflections on whether one can speak at all of an authentic version of a work that evolved to the degree that this one did. There are some innovations in the placement of the musicians, moving the choir up to a point next to the orchestra, with only the "expanded" choir of the chorales in back, and this works well: the words of the choir are given striking immediacy in this way. The size of that choir, too, may be considered an innovation in these days of competing full-choir and one-voice-per-part versions; Jacobs expresses scorn toward the latter solution but makes a sure to be controversial move of his own, employing a larger choir for the chorales than for the polyphonic choral passages even in the absence of any documentary support for such a configuration. The basic idea, however, is defensible: Jacobs finds in the work a "concerto principle," going all the way back to a 1920 remark of musicologist Arnold Schering: Bach's "concerto principle" as applied to choral music added "a surprising and clearly perceptible gradation of sound." All these small details add up to something absolutely distinctive: a small but not chamber-sized performance that strains for maximum expressiveness (although not operatic "drama") at every turn. From the magnificent motet-like opening chorus onward this is a performance with extraordinary depth and power. The soloists, above all the luscious soprano Sunhae Im and the commanding tenor Werner Güra as the Evangelist (who does not emerge from the choir like the other soloists on the theory that the vocal ordeal would be too severe), do their part, and the small choir matches them in precise effect. Sample one of the more active scenes, such as the Jews' demands of Pilate (CD one, track 23), for a taste of this recording's combination of immediacy and elevation. But know that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Very highly recommended.
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Opera - Released April 5, 2013 | harmonia mundi

Distinctions Gramophone Record of the Year
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Classical - Released October 15, 2015 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica
This performance of Mozart's opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail, K. 384, is led by the conductor and countertenor René Jacobs, an artist associated with the historical performance movement, and is accompanied by the Akademie für alte Musik Berlin, an ensemble of which the same is true. It is, however, anything but a historical performance; rather it is one featuring radical innovation. This is the last of a cycle of major Mozart operas by Jacobs, and it offers the fast tempi, tough, vigorous spirit, and dramatic insight that have generally characterized the others. The treatment of Mozart's semi-serious opera about the rescue of a woman held in the compound of a Turkish nobleman, however, is entirely novel. Die Entführung aus dem Serail is a Singspiel, a German-language opera in which the vocal numbers are interspersed with spoken dialogue, not recitatives. Jacobs has personally rewritten this dialogue into straightforward contemporary German, and if that weren't enough, accompanies it with fortepiano improvisations that comment on the action. This has a very curious effect akin to the texture of a silent film, and it's going to rub listeners in necessarily individual ways. Jacobs' aim is to get rid of the stop-start quality endemic to the Singspiel, and it must be said that whatever you think of the method, he accomplishes his goal. The best way to look at this performance is that if you take it on its own terms, it succeeds. Cutting the pauses between the dialogue sections and the arias down to a fraction of a second, Jacobs creates natural transitions between the dialogue and the set pieces. This quality is set against the spectacular vocal virtuosity of the music, and the effect is of a basic flow that from time to time explodes into technical fireworks like Konstanze's "Martern aller Arten" (CD one, track 22). Sample soprano Robin Johannsen here; to these ears, she's remarkable. In general, without performers who were as persuasive as actors as they were as singers, this interpretation would have been disastrous. But Jacobs shapes the whole thing into what he wants. It may still be too strange for you, but it's bold in the best way.
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Oratorios (secular) - Released July 31, 2007 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released August 15, 2007 | harmonia mundi

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released October 6, 2009 | harmonia mundi

Distinctions Exceptional Sound Recording
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released April 8, 2013 | harmonia mundi

Distinctions Choc de Classica