Albums

£14.99
£9.99

Classical - Released November 16, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
”Is it Schubert? Chopin? Or Brahms?” boldly asks the accompanying booklet for this recording of Dussek’s works. One may wonder whether there aren’t some Beethoven influences – and there are! – and even some Weber, but in fact, history runs backwards as the Concerto for 2 Pianos, Op.63 presented here dates back to 1806, the Rondo Concertant is from 1809 and the Quintet from 1799, prior (or at best at the same time) to the time when Weber conceived his great works. Indeed, many tendancies are evocative of a young Chopin and his Concertos. In many regards, Dussek was a visionary: his orchestration is particularly audacious – this is in fact more of a concert symphony than a traditional concerto – and his harmonic mood swings are especially bold and delightful … The Quintet itself is also unique: it was put together for the same unusual orchestra as Schubert’s Trout Quintet, meaning a violin, alto, cello, double bass, and piano. With its exquisitely free flowing writing, the work contains many surprises for the listener to discover on their own. The album ends with Notturno concertant for horn, violin, and piano. The two fortepianos are played by Alexei Lubimov and Olga Pashchenko, one is a copy of a Walter instrument and the other is a Longman/Clementi. © SM/Qobuz
£14.99
£9.99

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

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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
£14.99
£9.99

Classical - Released September 7, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
£20.99
£13.99

Sacred Oratorios - Released August 31, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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
£14.99
£9.99

Lieder (German) - Released August 24, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - 5 étoiles de Classica
£14.99
£9.99

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
£14.99
£9.99

Chamber Music - Released April 13, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Although Shostakovich's Third Quartet and his Piano Quintet have long been a part of the Belcea Quartet’s and Piotr Anderszewski’s repertoires, they had never recorded any of the composer's material. There is an interesting analogy between this point in the careers of the quartet and the pianist on the one hand and the composer's own life on the other: it was at the age of 32 that, although he was already onto his fifth symphony, Shostakovich wrote his first string quartet. For a long time his demanding attitude towards himself held him back from attempting what he saw as "one of the most difficult of all the musical genres". The impetus came – against the composer's will – from the dastardly Stalin, who had sparked the greatest crisis in Shostakovich's career: in 1936 the dictator had attended a performance of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, which later got an ominous review in Pravda, which growled about "chaos replacing music" and denounced "hysterical, degenerate music". The young composer ran the risk of arrest and execution: and so it should come as no surprise that after that experience he turned to the more private genre of the string quartet. Every listener can make their own between-the-lines reading of political protests or humanist messages in the work: at any rate it is very hard to see "just" pure music here, for all its fluency. That applies just as much to the Third Quartet of 1946, in which passages recalling Haydn rub shoulders with rather more violent material. The Quintet for Piano and Strings dates back to 1940, and it received the Stalin Prize – which was symptomatic of the unpredictable relations between Shostakovich and the regime, which saw him at once as traitor to the people and a model artist. The composer claimed that he added the piano part to his quintet so as to be able to play it himself, and to take advantage of whatever travel opportunities might come his way as a result...© SM/Qobuz
£10.49
£6.99

Symphonic Music - Released February 9, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
One of the big events of 2017 was the opening of the Hamburg Philharmonie. Krzysztof Urbański and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra gave inaugural concerts there that made a lasting impact on audiences and critics alike. On this occasion, the Polish conductor chose to record one of the works closest to his heart, The Rite of Spring: "Stravinsky invented a new language. For me, The Rite is not a score, but a painting: on each page, I see Matisse, Gauguin, the Fauve painters . . . It’s an explosion of colours, emotions, and surprises too: if you don’t know the piece, you never know what’s going to happen. It’s so suggestive that you don’t need to do all that much with the orchestra, the magic is written into the music. . . . When I conduct The Rite, I don’t think: the music penetrates your backbone, it’s inside you . . . It’s a ballet, and perhaps it’s because I was a dancer when I was younger that I can’t control my body when I hear and conduct this piece. It’s a mystical experience for me!". © Alpha Classics
£14.99
£9.99

Classical - Released January 12, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
The Järvi family is a pillar of Estonian musical life. Paavo is now director of the Pärnu Festival, held in August each year, which brings together the finest Estonian musicians, joined by the cream of European orchestras: members of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Orchestre de Paris etc. Paavo Järvi (recently appointed music director of one of the world’s leading formations, the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich) frequents all these instrumentalists regularly, and now works alongside them, ‘unpretentiously, in a warm, collegial manner’ for a series of highly convivial concerts on the shores of the Baltic: ‘magical and incredibly appealing’, says Die Welt. Paavo Järvi has now decided to record with this outstanding orchestra. For this first release, he has chosen Shostakovich, a key figure of the twentieth century, for both the region and the Järvi family: Paavo used to meet him as a child when the composer came to visit his father Neeme! The programme consists of Symphony no.6 and the Sinfonietta op.110b, a rare arrangement of the String Quartet no.8 by Abram Stasevich for string orchestra and timpani. This first release in 2018 will also coincide with the centenary of the independence of the Estonian Republic and a tour that will take the orchestra to several major European cities.© Alpha Classics
£14.99
£9.99

Classical - Released September 22, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Whether singing, conducting, dancing or acting, the Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan is a source of fascination. Alpha Classics is proud to enter her world today and to present in 2017 her very first album as singer and conductor: with the Amsterdambased orchestra Ludwig, of which she is associate artist, Barbara Hannigan has devised a programme including Berg’s Lulu Suite and Gershwin’s Girl Crazy in a Suite newly arranged by the multiaward-winning American composer Bill Elliott. To complement these two pieces, she has recorded Berio’s spectacular Sequenza III for solo voice. An outstanding soprano, a distinguished interpreter of the music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, an all-round artist who creates a sensation on concert platforms and in opera houses throughout the world, Barbara Hannigan has enriched her palette over the past few years by devoting a portion of her activities to conducting. © Alpha Classics
£14.99
£9.99

Classical - Released September 22, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
The life of Stradella, murdered on a Genoese piazza at the age of forty-two on the orders of a jealous rival in love, has achieved mythical status and inspired several novels and operas featuring Stradella the adventurer, the rebel and above all Stradella the Don Juan, whose amorous escapades, from abducting a novice from a convent in Florence to a flight across Italy with the high-born fiancée of a senator, were never a hindrance to his flourishing musical career. It is easy to imagine that Stradella’s hectic life provided the inspiration for the captivating female figures who abound in his output, exalted by technically redoubtable vocal writing, as exuberant and virtuosic as it can sometimes be sober and ethereal, and supported by remarkably skilled recitatives, a genuine verbal theatre that offers the singer infinite scope for expression. From the demonic Salome to Ariadne, the model wife turned into a Fury by despair; from Pelagia, the repentant sinner who ends her days living in a cave disguised as a man, to Susanna, the very image of innocence and purity, this programme presents a series of portraits of women whom Chantal Santon embodies in their turn with all her artistry, her intimate knowledge of this repertory and her sense of theatre. © Alpha Classics
£14.99
£9.99

Solo Piano - Released July 7, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Olga Pashchenko is in the process of creating a unique place for herself in the world of the keyboard: she moves with astounding ease and skill from the harpsichord to the fortepiano, the organ and the modern piano. After a recording of Beethoven’s variations in 2015 (awarded ffff by Télérama), the young pianist has now gone to the legendary Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, a venue she knows well since she regularly gives concerts within its walls, to record three monuments of the pianistic literature – the Appassionata, Les Adieux and Waldstein sonatas – on the original Conrad Graf piano of 1824 conserved there. She utilises all the sonic possibilities and the full palette of colours of this instrument made around fifteen years after the composition of these sonatas, three of the finest in the corpus of thirty-two that Hans von Bülow called ‘the New Testament of every pianist’. © Outhere Music
£14.99
£9.99

Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released May 31, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
After an album of French songs (Néère) that earned her a "Gramophone Award" in 2016, Véronique Gens presents her new recital, this time with orchestra, which gives her an opportunity to display the maturity of her ‘Falcon’ soprano, the central tessitura typical of French Romantic opera, which takes its name from Cornélie Falcon, who created the works of Meyerbeer and Halévy staged in the 1830s. She pays tribute here to a number of composers whose unknown operas she was the first to reveal in projects mounted by the Palazzetto Bru Zane, including David, Godard, Saint-Saëns and Halévy. The programme selects arias from all the genres in vogue in the Romantic era: opera (Saint-Saëns, Halévy, Godard, Février), opéra-comique (David), oratorio (Franck, Massenet) and the cantata for the Prix de Rome (Bizet, Bruneau). A nod to Wagner and his Tannhäuser – in its French translation of the 1860s – completes this programme conducted by a longstanding colleague of the soprano, one of the leading specialists in French music, Hervé Niquet. © Alpha Classics
£14.99
£9.99

Classical - Released May 12, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
£14.99
£9.99

Mélodies (French) - Released February 24, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
£14.99
£9.99

Chamber Music - Released February 24, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
£14.99
£9.99

Classical - Released October 14, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
£17.99
£11.99

Chamber Music - Released September 2, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
More than twelve years after its initial incursion into the music of Brahms, the Belcea Quartet now presents an eagerly awaited complete recording of his string quartets. A powerful style and a sense of musical architecture are the two qualities most often attributed to the Belcea, which is now one of the top international quartets. And those characteristics blossom to the full in Brahms. For the Piano Quintet, its members are joined by Till Fellner. This Austrian former student of Alfred Brendel is one of today’s most respected pianists, combining grace, rigour and musical intelligence. In September 2016 the Belcea Quartet will embark on a tour that will take it to the United States and most countries in Europe.
£14.99
£9.99

Classical - Released August 19, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
£14.99
£9.99

Quartets - Released July 1, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Shortly after he arrived in Vienna in 1782, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart began composing his six "Haydn" Quartets, inspired by recent contact with his new friend, Franz Joseph Haydn. Not only had Haydn composed an important set of string quartets in 1781, which Mozart studied closely, he also played violin in a quartet with Mozart as violist. These influences led Mozart to compose his String Quartet No. 16 in E flat major, K. 428, and his String Quartet No. 19 in C major, K. 465, "Dissonant," which bookend the Divertimento in D major, K. 136, on this 2016 release from Alpha Classics. The Quatuor Van Kuijk, a French string quartet in spite of its Dutch name, deliver exciting and engaging performances of the string quartets, finding the right blend of flashiness and warmth that characterize Mozart's newfound maturity. Yet the youthful Divertimento is treated with comparable brilliance, if slightly less ardor, and all three works make a delightful program, showing important aspects of the development of the Classical style. The recordings are focused and detailed, though the acoustics of Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Waterloo create an aural halo that at times softens the Quatuor Van Kuijk's edge.

The Collections

Label

Alpha in the magazine