Albums

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Chamber Music - Released June 8, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica
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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Cantatas (secular) - Released January 26, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica
The son of one of the Twenty-four Violins of the King, Nicolas Clérambault was born in Paris in 1676. He was a precocious child: he is credited with a large choral motet, composed when he was just thirteen years old. His education was provided by excellent masters and he was a close friend of Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers, whom he eventually replaced in 1714 at the tribune of Saint-Sulpice and the Maison Royale de Saint-Louis in Saint-Cyr. In addition to a book for harpsichord, and another for the organ, Clérambault composed numerous motets, but during his lifetime already, his French Cantatas were the works that solidified his reputation: five books featuring twenty cantatas in addition to five single cantatas. They highlight his evolution, from a craft similar to his masters of the 17th century to the pure, classical style that soon became his. Apollon, Cantatte sur la paix, à voix seule, et simphonie écrite pour le Roy (Apollo, Cantata for Peace, single voice, and Symphony written for the King) dates back to the very end of Louis XIV’s rule, which was marked by war and famine; in it, Clérambault glorifies the King, often portrayed as Apollo, while echoing the overall feeling among the population: peace! His 1710 cantata Le Jaloux (The Jealous) departs from the standard framework: no action, no lauding or flattery, simply a delicious tableau of jealousy! The album’s centrepiece remains 1713 Pyrame et Thisbé (Pyramus and Thisbe), derived from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Pyramus and Thisbe love each other, but their parents are opposed to their union. A beautiful instrumental prelude precedes the first recitative, which introduces and frames this tragedy. The melody closing the cantata is in a way the moral of the story. Between these two ends, Clérambault strings together recitatives, melodies, symphonies, as if in a lyric tragedy. The A Nocte Temporis ensemble – flute, violin, viola de gamba, harpsichord – accompany tenor Reinoud van Mechelen who performs these intense moments of great French classicism with perfect conviction and diction – crucial for this kind of textual works – while respecting the pronunciation specific to that era. For instance, “l’espoir de se revoir” turns into “l’espouêr de se revouêr”! The son of one of the Twenty-four Violins of the King, Nicolas Clérambault was born in Paris in 1676. He was a precocious child: he is credited with a large choral motet, composed when he was just thirteen years old. His education was provided by excellent masters and he was a close friend of Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers, whom he eventually replaced in 1714 at the tribune of Saint-Sulpice and the Maison Royale de Saint-Louis in Saint-Cyr. In addition to a book for harpsichord, and another for the organ, Clérambault composed numerous motets, but during his lifetime already, his French Cantatas were the works that solidified his reputation: five books featuring twenty cantatas in addition to five single cantatas. They highlight his evolution, from a craft similar to his masters of the 17th century to the pure, classical style that soon became his. Apollon, Cantatte sur la paix, à voix seule, et simphonie écrite pour le Roy (Apollo, Cantata for Peace, single voice, and Symphony written for the King) dates back to the very end of Louis XIV’s rule, which was marked by war and famine; in it, Clérambault glorifies the King, often portrayed as Apollo, while echoing the overall feeling among the population: peace! His 1710 cantata Le Jaloux (The Jealous) departs from the standard framework: no action, no lauding or flattery, simply a delicious tableau of jealousy! The album’s centrepiece remains 1713 Pyrame et Thisbé (Pyramus and Thisbe), derived from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Pyramus and Thisbe love each other, but their parents are opposed to their union. A beautiful instrumental prelude precedes the first recitative, which introduces and frames this tragedy. The melody closing the cantata is in a way the moral of the story. Between these two ends, Clérambault strings together recitatives, melodies, symphonies, as if in a lyric tragedy. The A Nocte Temporis ensemble – flute, violin, viola de gamba, harpsichord – accompany tenor Reinoud van Mechelen who performs these intense moments of great French classicism with perfect conviction and diction – crucial for this kind of textual works – while respecting the pronunciation specific to that era. For instance, “l’espoir de se revoir” turns into “l’espouêr de se revouêr”! © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released April 1, 2002 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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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
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Chamber Music - Released March 24, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released November 10, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released October 21, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
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Keyboard Concertos - Released September 23, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
Olivier Cavé has already made several acclaimed discs for Aeon (Clementi, Haydn, Bach, Scarlatti). This student of Nelson Goerner, Maria Tipo and Aldo Ciccolini invariably impresses listeners with the refinement of his playing. Today he presents a program of three piano concertos with a conductor whose ventures into Mozart are always crowned with success: Rinaldo Alessandrini. They met at a concert in Toulouse and decided to record these masterpieces. Rinaldo Alessandrini has formed an orchestra for the occasion, which he has christened ‘Divertissement’, and together they will embark on a European tour focusing on this program and symphonies by Mozart at the time of the CD’s release. This program follows an interesting path from Mozart’s youth to his maturity, a path that runs through three concertos, from no.5, composed when he was seventeen, to no.25, written the same year as Le nozze di Figaro, by way of the joyful and and subtle Concerto no.13, which he composed in 1783. All three are stylishly and nimbly performed here by the soloist and an orchestra containing a majority of Italian musicians.
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Classical - Released August 26, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released August 24, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - Qobuzissime
Justin Taylor, the winner of the 2015 edition of the celebrated harpsichord competition of the Musica Antiqua Festival in Bruges (which has honoured some of the world’s finest players, including Scott Ross, Christophe Rousset, Pierre Hantaï, Benjamin Alard, and more recently Jean Rondeau), has recorded for Alpha Classics a programme of music by the Forqueray family: Antoine, Michel, Jean-Baptiste, Nicolas-Gilles . . . Those are just some of the first names of a great dynasty of French composers, gambists and organists. Antoine Forqueray, born in 1672, obtained the highly coveted position of Musicien de la Chambre du Roi. He subsequently had, shall we say, a complicated relationship with his son Jean-Baptiste, born in 1699 . . . Envious of the boy’s talent for the viol, Antoine had him imprisoned when he was just sixteen years old! The recital, as well as painting a musical portrait of this unique family, also offers a chance to reflect on the issue of transcription. In fact, the suites performed here on the harpsichord were originally written for viola da gamba. The passage from one instrument to another, from one soundworld to another, sheds new light on the music and allows us to grasp its full originality. © Alpha
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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.
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Duets - Released June 3, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - Exceptional sound
The adventure began in 2012, when Gilles Ledure, director of Flagey (Brussels), suggested to Lorenzo Gatto and Julien Libeer they should perform the complete Beethoven violin sonatas there. For these two artists, Beethoven was ‘perhaps the first composer in our history to have embodied the values of the Enlightenment in both his music and his life’. Haunted by these monuments of architecture and expression, they decided to embark on a recording. Here are three sonatas recorded in the legendary Salle de Musique of La Chaux-de-Fonds, including the famous ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata. Since his version of the Beethoven Violin Concerto (ZZT 354), Lorenzo Gatto has taken his place among the violinists who matter on the international scene.
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Classical - Released June 17, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
Romanticism replaced the element of mythological fantasy in Baroque opera with fairytale fantasy. The fairytale is omnipresent on the French stage, whether in spoken theatre, ballet or opera. It is no coincidence that Cinderella and Bluebeard so appealed to nineteenth-century composers . . . This project, initiated by the Palazzetto Bru Zane, is constructed like a ‘universal’ fairytale inspired by Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Bluebeard, Hop-o’-My-Thumb and others, as set to music by French composers of the Romantic era. It alternates between famous composers (Offenbach, Massenet, Chausson . . . and Rossini, here sung in French) and others who are still little-known (Viardot, Silver, Serpette, De Rillé, Isouard). Conceived by Alexandre Dratwicki and transcribed by him for piano quartet and two singers, a soprano and a mezzo, this imaginary opera is splendidly performed by Jodie Devos and Caroline Meng – who, at one point in the story, having sung a queen, dons breeches to play a prince. For her part, the soprano, who ends up as the winsome princess of Massenet and Offenbach, must first endure the torments of uncertain love.
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Duets - Released May 6, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - Qobuzissime
Marie-Elisabeth Hecker made her entry into the ‘big leagues’ by winning first prize in the Rostropovich Competition in Paris back in 2005. Her international career was simultaneously launched on the back of this great success. Born in 1987 in Zwickau, the young cellist has studied with Steven Iserlis, Bernard Greenhouse and even Gary Hoffman. She has performed as a soloist with the Russian Symphony Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Kremerata Baltica, the Mariinsky Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Munich and Dresden Philharmonic Orchestras, the Staatskapelle Berlin, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris… the list goes on. Her experience has seen her work with conductors such as Yuri Temirkanov, Yuri Bashmet, Gidon Kremer, Valery Gergiev, Fabio Luisi, Marek Janowski, Emmanuel Krivine, Christian Thielemann or even Daniel Barenboim. Here, with her musical partner (and husband) pianist Martin Helmchen for their first duo album; the two musicians met at the Lockenhaus Festival at which time they performed another one of Brahms sonatas: Proust's Madeleine! More than twenty years separate the two sonatas for cello and piano, the first from 1862 – the composer had not yet turned 30 – and the second from 1886, by which time he had nothing left to prove to anyone. Hecker-Helmchen thoroughly master this repertoire. A coup for this first album as a duo. © SM / Qobuz
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Classical - Released April 15, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
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Solo Piano - Released May 20, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica
He is nicknamed ‘the poet of the piano’, an epithet confirmed by each of his appearances in concert or on record, most recently with his multi-award-winning Debussy and Chopin albums. Nelson Goerner already has an imposing discography, but this is the first time he has tackled Beethoven on a recording: he has chosen the ‘Hammerklavier’, a work of unparalleled dimensions, complexity and profundity . . . But is this artist, whom a Buenos Aires newspaper praised after a recital at the famous Teatro Colon for his ‘ability to combine intellectual lucidity, undeniable depth, and a technical ease that enables him to express his ideas’, not the perfect interpreter for that monumental composition? ‘Here is a sonata that will make pianists work hard’, said Beethoven to his publisher after labouring on it for almost three years, at a time when his deafness was constantly worsening. Forty-five minutes of immense difficulty for the performer (and also the listener?): between a first movement as fiery as Beethoven ever wrote and a finale that seems to foreshadow jazz improvisations, comes a splendid and deeply moving slow movement that Goerner renders with deep emotion. He then invites us to move from the monumental to the miniature, with the Six Bagatelles op.126, subtle gems of late Beethovenian style, constructed with formidable skill.
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Classical - Released March 4, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released February 5, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Solo Piano - Released January 22, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica
Perhaps no musician in the 19th century was a greater promoter of the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven than Franz Liszt, who not only conducted them regularly in Weimar, but made piano transcriptions of all nine, which were published together in 1865. The keyboard version of the Symphony No. 9 in D minor, "Choral," was one of the most challenging for Liszt, who agonized over making a viable arrangement of the complex choral finale, the famous setting of Schiller's Ode to Joy. Yet Liszt's bravura transcription was a success, and the Ninth was made available to musicians and listeners who, in the age before recordings, were unable to hear this work any other way. For this recording, Yury Martynov has recorded Liszt's reduction on a Blüthner piano, ca. 1867, which gives a good idea of the sonorities he would have known, though for his own performances he favored a Bösendorfer, which could withstand his powerful playing. This recording shows that the Blüthner piano is a good choice, and Martynov holds nothing back in his virtuoso performance, which offers many thrilling passages. The sound of this Alpha CD is well balanced and gives a fairly close-up impression of Martynov's playing, though there is enough space between the piano and the microphone to let the resonant church acoustics have an effect.
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Classical - Released October 30, 2015 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica

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