Albums

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Classical - To be released October 12, 2018 | Alpha

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Classical - To be released October 5, 2018 | Alpha

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Classical - To be released September 28, 2018 | Alpha

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‘Playing the demanding and constantly shifting string quartet repertory is enough to fill up four lives . . . Buoyed up by this heritage, we wanted to explore less well-known territories. In the early years of the twentieth century, Bartók and Kodály roamed the villages of Hungary and Romania, collecting, transcribing and recording hundreds of folk tunes and songs. ‘Building on a number of encounters with leading figures of jazz and world music, we asked five instrumentalist-composers to write us pieces inspired by musical worlds to which they feel close. In addition to these new compositions, we wanted to record Escalay by the Egyptian oud player Hamza el Din who died in 2006, a nod to the Kronos Quartet whose approach is an inspiration to us.’ (Voce Quartet). A recording made under the artistic direction of Vincent Segal. © Alpha Classics/Outhere
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Classical - To be released September 28, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
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Classical - Released September 21, 2018 | Alpha

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released September 21, 2018 | Alpha

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The tenor Julian Prégardien joins Alpha Classics for several recording projects that will showcase every facet of his talent, notably lieder and oratorio. His first album on the label is devoted to one of the greatest masterpieces in the history of music, Winterreise in a version with orchestra composed by Hans Zender in 1993. He scored the work for orchestral forces very different from the ensembles used in the nineteenth century (including, for example, a soprano saxophone, an accordion, a harmonica, a wind machine, a guitar and a very large percussion section). Hans Zender describes his work as a ‘creative transformation’: ‘My own reading of Winterreise does not seek a new expressive interpretation, but systematically takes advantage of the freedoms that performers normally allow themselves in an intuitive way: slowing down or accelerating the tempo, transposition into different keys, emphasising and nuancing colours.’ © Outhere Music
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Chamber Music - Released September 14, 2018 | Alpha

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Chamber Music - Released September 7, 2018 | Alpha

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‘When we approach a composer, we like to immerse ourselves in his or her early works, in order to understand the evolution of the person behind the score. ‘It was quite naturally that the idea emerged of coupling a youthful quartet, no.10, composed at the age of sixteen, with a masterpiece by the mature Schubert, the “Death and the Maiden” Quartet no.14. As in the case of Mozart on our first recording, we wanted to present two different atmospheres with two quartets by the same composer. ‘This journey through time sheds a new light on the later works, because the process of getting to know the young Franz Schubert naturally means deepening our knowledge of his language, but also allows us to refine our appropriation of the style, sound and articulation specific to him. ‘In Quartet no.10, we tried to achieve purity in our playing, a crystalline sound that allows the music to unfold in the most fluid and natural way, keeping in mind the intimacy of the family living room for which these pages were written. ‘In no.14, more tormented, brusquer, more intense, we attempt to pay homage to the work’s symphonic dimension, and to its most sombre, most violent asperities. ‘Two sides to one man: the bright and dark faces of Schubert.’ Quatuor Van Kuijk © Outhere Music
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Classical - Released September 7, 2018 | Alpha

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released August 31, 2018 | Alpha

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There is no shortage of parallels to be drawn between Caldara and Vivaldi: both Venetians, both boasting an impressive body of work running to several hundred pieces of all genres, both died in Vienna (in the same street and in the same penury!), although Caldara had written more operas and oratorios than the Red Priest. And here is one of these very 32 known oratorios, Maddalena ai piedi di Christo written in Venice around 1698; it is "oratorio volgare", that is, recited in Italian, rather than Latin. Originally written as an accompaniment to spiritual exercises, the oratorio came to replace profane operas when the theatres were closed, especially from November to Lent. It took on the guise of opera, and used many of its techniques: naves and altars were (re)decorated and mechanisms and costumes were employed. In reality, it was nothing but an opera with a religious theme... The words and the plot of Maddalena ai piedi di Christo are perfectly suited to these months of penitence. It is a drama of the moral breakdown that tortures the sinner who has to choose between worldly and heavenly love, between living a life of luxury and truly promising herself to Christ. The Le Banquet Céleste ensemble, led by Damien Guillon (who also sings the alto part of Divine Love), takes to this rare piece with fervour. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released August 24, 2018 | Alpha

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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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Classical - Released August 24, 2018 | Alpha

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Classical - Released August 17, 2018 | Alpha

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The lute, the archlute and the theorbo obviously belong to the world of Renaissance and to the first Baroque; but lutenist Bruno Helstroffer offers here to his theorbo, in addition to pieces from these periods, some strange incursions into the 20th Century: pieces that he composed himself (or almost from his written-down improvisation, probably), of which one or the other with a sung line or the recitation of a poem, as well as a Gnossienne from Satie which fantastically lends itself to the sound of the theorbo, conferring to this original program a kind of Oriental flavor that is quite spectacular. With Bach, Helstroffer indulges in a harmonic and rhythmic digression on the Menuet in Bach’s First Cello Suite, shifting the supports and the lines in order to only slightly evoke the original from the Cantor. Finally, you will notice some pieces from Helstroffer who is borrowing from India, or from West Africa with the kora, itself a traditional lute-harp, whose sounds are magically evoked by the theorbo. This is one of those unclassifiable and multicultural albums, blending all the eras and geographical landscapes, which will duly intrigue the lovers of rarities, and which has now inscribed the theorbo as an instrument of the modern repertoire. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released August 10, 2018 | Alpha

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Duets - Released August 10, 2018 | Alpha

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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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Classical - Released July 20, 2018 | Alpha

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With this new series entitled ‘Salon de musique’, Alpha presents recordings made by artists who have enlivened the Festival of Salon de Provence for some years now: the pianist Eric le Sage, who has made many recordings for Alpha, the clarinettist Paul Meyer etc… with cellist Claudio Bohórquez, they have now put two Beethoven trios on disc. By 1798, the year Ludwig van Beethoven composed his Trio for piano, clarinet and cello op.11, he was already well-known in Vienna as a remarkable improviser and an ambitious young composer. the piece was clearly aimed at the enlightened aristocracy, as well as competent musical amateurs. This did not prevent the critics, though universally positive, from judging the score to be over-complex in places. Dedicated to the Empress Marie-Theresa of Austria, the Septet was published in 1802 by Hofmeister, and on being well-received it was then rearranged for various combinations. Beethoven himself made a version for clarinet, cello and piano, op.38 in E Flat major – the one recorded here. © Alpha Classics
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Symphonic Music - Released June 8, 2018 | Alpha

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Since the 2015-2016 season, Giovanni Antonini has been the "principal guest conductor" of the Basel Chamber Orchestra (the Kammerorchester Basel, refounded in 1984 in the spirit of the original Basler Kammerorchester, founded by Swiss patron and conductor Paul Sacher), with whom he has worked on major discographic projects, like the ongoing complete recordings of Beethoven's Symphonies (Sony Classical), which has already seen lively success with press and public alike; and the "Haydn 2032" project, which aims to record all 700 of Joseph Haydn's symphonies in time to mark three hundred years since his birth (in 2032). Started in 2014, this audacious project has been entirely organised, produced and financed by the Basel Joseph Haydn Foundation, and it aims to take in both records and 19 concert seasons across all of Europe. It is being undertaken in cooperation with Il Giardino Armonico, a well-known ensemble of which Giovanni Antonini is a founder member.. The two orchestras are sharing out the recordings which will appear on Alpha Classics, in thematic, rather than chronological order, with other symphonies by composers in Haydn's orbit, like Gluck, Porpora, C.P.E. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Michael Haydn, Stamitz, Pleyel and Salieri. The next few years look to be absolutely thrilling in terms of releases. This sixth volume offers three symphonies which are full of a dense and almost spiritual expressiveness dating back to Haydn's Sturm und Drang era, coupled with a work by Joseph Martin Kraus, an exact contemporary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose genius absolutely stands up alongside both Haydn and Mozart. But history was not kind to this visionary composer, who moved to Sweden, where he failed to make a mark, despite the protection of King Gustav III. His music, strongly expressive, is also influenced by the Sturm und Drang movement which brought drama to musical discourse and heralded the birth of Romanticism © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released June 8, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
This is not the place for yet another disquisition on the widespread baroque practice of transcribing works: Bach was no stranger to it himself, to say nothing of Handel, who plagiarised himself over and over; and this album gives us the Cantor transcribing the Cantor. In this instance we are looking at the Fifth Suite in C Minor for cello, which he re-wrote for the lute. Taking his lead from the composer, lutist Thomas Dunford has done the same to the First Suite for cello, and revised it for his instrument. Obviously, the music seems renewed, elucidated in many different ways: the styles, the reverberations, the harmonies, the counterpoints all develop differently, but we are still hearing original Bach: it's just that its richness is distributed differently in our ears. Dunford offers us a generous "B-side" in the form of a transcription of the Chaconne taken from the Suite for Solo Violin in D Minor, another superb exercise in reconsidering balances while respecting the letter of the music. It remains astounding what one can do with Bach, without ever betraying the spirit of his works. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released June 8, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Glenn Gould, whose talents as an agitator and showman are well known, didn't hesitate to declare himself "firmly convinced that Das Marienleben, in its original form [because there exists a revised version made around twenty years after the first - SM], was the greatest song cycle ever composed." That should be taken with a pinch of salt, of course, but one can't ignore a statement like that. Taking words by Rilke, Hindemith set to work putting them to music between June 1922 and July 1923. The dates are significant because they marked a fundamental turning point for the composer: the move from expressionism to "New Objectivity", a very Germanic movement which sought to erase the slightest trace of postromanticism by developing a pared-down and less emotive language. That said, in musical terms, it is all rather more fluid than in painting. However, throughout the seventy-odd minutes of this cycle, Hindemith moves constantly from one to the other, as its fifteen pieces were written in no particular order: the oldest are the eleventh and the fifteenth; the last ones to be written are the thirteenth and fourteenth. Knowing Hindemith, of course, one might think that he could never resist an emotional charge, even when set firmly in his rigorous counter-punctual language. Note that Juliane Banse and Martin Helmchen have chosen to record the 1922-23 version, and not the revision of 1936-48 – and so we're listening to Gould's favourite version. © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released June 8, 2018 | Alpha

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The third volume of this four-part series of trios, quartets and quintets for piano by Dvořák is dedicated to two Piano Quintets and Bagatelles, the Trio Busch welcoming French viola player Miguel da Silva – formerly of the Ysaÿe quartet, between 1984 and 2014 – and also the violinist Maria Milstein, an associate of the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Belgium. This ambitious project saw the light of day thanks to the young Busch Trio's arrival as residents at the Music Chapel in September 2014. The First Piano Quintet in A Major, composed in late summer 1872, might have been lost to posterity, as it seems that Dvořák destroyed the manuscript. But a friend made a copy, which allowed the work to survive the composer's hasty judgement. The self-assurance with which the composer deals with the combination of piano and strings is clear; in many places, the score prefigures the famous Second Quintet which closes this album. At this early stage in his career, his influences remain clear, in particular the influence of Schubert. When he looked back on his earlier works, as he would do now and then, Dvořák remembered the quintet of his youth and asked his trusty friend for the copy of the work. As was often the case with him, the reflection on an old work led to the composition of a new one in the same form, in such a way that he wound up creating a new quintet in the space of just six weeks in 1887, when he was approaching the pinnacle of his international fame. Between these two stand-out works for quintet, our musicians have chosen the Bagatelles of 1878, initially written for two violins, cello – not a viola – and harmonium, a household keyboard instrument which was very widespread in those days. Composed at the same time as the first volume of the Slavonic Dances, the Bagatelles share the same national accents. Here they are given not on the harmonium but with the piano, as the original score leaves the performers the choice of the two. © SM/Qobuz

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