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Classical - Released February 5, 2016 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Classical - Released October 21, 2014 | Ricercar

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
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Music by vocal ensembles - Released September 23, 2010 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
Give credit to countertenors Carlos Mena (from Spain) and Damien Guillon (from France): it's very hard to tell here that you're listening to anything other than native English speakers, and even the booklet, with full texts in English, French, and German, is not really necessary to understand the original words. The music by Blow mentioned on the cover consists only of the Ode on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell, used here as a sort of introduction. These are fine performances of Purcell, with a program nicely divided up into songs (mostly excerpts from operas or mixed-genre semi-operas), odes (honorific pieces), and instrumental pieces, many of them excerpts from longer works. This gives a sense of why some of Purcell's melodies are so insanely catchy: within their tuneful frameworks they cross genres. The more ceremonial odes are built up out of successions of dramatic gestures, while the songs often have intricate details that belie their simple overall forms. Mena's rich, rounded tone is a pleasure in itself, and his duet work with Guillon is fresh and cleanly executed. The paired flutes of Belgium's Ricercar Ensemble contribute readings that hold together well with the vocal music. Sample one of the countertenor duets, such as No, resistance is but vain (track 10), to hear the fine duet work and the expert avoidance of the cuteness factor that can ruin a Purcell recording. Over-resonant sound from a French Protestant church, the Temple de Lourmarin, detracts from the overall atmosphere. © TiVo
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Classical - Released February 9, 2015 | Mirare

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Classical - Released September 2, 2008 | Mirare

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Cantatas (sacred) - Released April 27, 2001 | Mirare

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Classical - Released January 1, 2002 | Ricercar

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Classical - Released January 1, 1992 | Ricercar

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Classical - Released January 1, 2007 | Ricercar

Although Dietrich Buxtehude was a forerunner of Bach in many genres, the cantata, oddly enough, was hardly among them. The cantatas collected on these two discs are works for one or two soloists with a small instrumental ensemble -- cantatas in the seventeenth century sense. There are no chorales involved, and some of the cantatas are divided up into short sections with different tempos, each responding to an affect expressed in the text. The "Dialogus inter Christam et fidelem animam" (Dialogue Between Christ and the Faithful Soul) is not a serene duet like so many of Bach's dialogic conceptions but a more philosophical piece. The cantatas are still obscure compared with some of Buxtehude's other sacred works, so this reissue (the recordings were made in the late '80s) is welcome. Buxtehude's way of embodying ideas and emotions in a few instrumental strokes is on display everywhere here, from abstract structures such as the chaconne-like "Laudate pueri Dominum" (Praise the Lord, you servants, CD 2, track 6) to the remarkable, highly personal "Klag-Lied" (Song of Lamentation, CD 2, track 9) with a text by Buxtehude himself written about the death of his own father, featuring particularly powerful tropes on conventional depictions of weeping. It would be great to see some of today's Baroque vocal specialists tackle these works anew, for they offer plenty to challenge any singer technically and emotionally. The singing on this release is generally attractive but could in many cases be more differentiated in its response to specific texts, and the recording of the instrumentalists is unpleasantly bright, bringing a reminder of the lack of warmth that caused many listeners to dislike compact discs at first. The set will nevertheless take you into a fascinating body of work. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 17, 2009 | Mirare

Philippe Pierlot and the Ricercar Consort's 2006 recording of Bach's Magnificat brings back the glory days of historically informed performances, those halcyon days in the 1980s when musicians, empowered by scholarship and energized by virtuosity, were recording the Baroque repertoire with the zeal of the newly converted. Though Pierlot and his musicians are of a younger generation, they bring a missionary fervor to the music, a program of Bach's Magnificat, BWV 243, and Missa Brevis, BWV 235, interspersed with two well-chosen organ works, the Fuga sopra il Magnificat, BWV 733, and the Präludium und Fuga, BWV 541. Pierlot's textures are clean, his rhythms buoyant, his colors bright, and tempos brisk, but not rushed in the fast movements, and contemplative but not moribund in the slow movements. The Ricercar Consort plays with technical brilliance and manifest enthusiasm as an ensemble, and the violin and flute soloists deliver sparkling performances. But perhaps the best thing is the five vocal soloists and given that they also serve as the choir, their performances are even more remarkable. With clarion tones, gracious technique, and an effortless blend, they comport themselves with the ease and luster of the best jazz vocal groups, and the spirit they bring to their parts is infectious. Francis Jacob delivers forceful yet effervescent readings of the two organ works. Mirare's digital sound is as clear and as real as a blue sky. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 8, 2010 | Ricercar

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Classical - Released January 22, 2009 | Ricercar

Booklet
French counter tenor Henri Ledroit had a career that flourished in the 1970s and 1980s, before the wave of young counter tenors that began emerging in the 1990s that raised the bar considerably for the voice type, both timbrally and technically. Ledroit was a protégé of Alfred Deller's, and his voice has a similar lightness, but he was not as limber or technically assured as Deller. This retrospective collection of music by Charpentier, Tunder, Grandi, Monteverdi, and Leopold I, released in 2008 to honor the twentieth anniversary of his death, reveals a singer with good interpretive skills, but with neither the instrument nor the technique to make a strong impression. Ledroit's timbre sounds closer to that of a high tenor than to a counter tenor in several of the selections, and he tends to lose focus and power at the bottom of his range. Music that requires higher volume, particularly Charpentier's song Le Bavolet, results in a forced tone, awkwardly putting a lack of vocal discipline on display. Ledroit is at his best in Charpentier's delicately lyrical, expressive songs, which showcase his interpretive sensitivity and musical insight. One of the most satisfying tracks is Charpentier's cantata, Orphée descendant aux enfers, in which he's joined by tenor Guy de Mey and bass Jacques Bona. Ricercar Consort provides a solid, if somewhat conventional and low-profile accompaniment. The sound quality varies some between tracks, but is generally clear and clean. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 12, 2015 | Mirare

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Classical - Released January 1, 2007 | Ricercar

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Classical - Released September 2, 2008 | Mirare

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Classical - Released January 1, 1991 | Ricercar

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Classical - Released December 2, 1998 | Ricercar

Booklet