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Symphonic Music - Released February 22, 2019 | Alpha

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Classical - Released February 15, 2019 | Alpha

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Composed in 1944 and first performed at the Salle Gaveau in Paris on 26 March 1945 by Yvonne Loriod, this is the second great pianistic cycle by Olivier Messiaen: a major work indeed, not only in the composer’s oeuvre but in the entire repertoire for solo piano. As we know, its origin is in the faith and spirituality of Olivier Messiaen, who described it as: ‘The Contemplation of the Child-God in the cradle, and the gazes fixed upon Him: from the inexpressible Gaze of God the Father to the multiple Gaze of the Church of love, also taking in the unheard Gaze of the Spirit of joy, the tender Gaze of the Virgin, of the Angels, of the Magi, and of those creatures that are immaterial or symbolic (Time, Extreme Height, Silence, the Star, the Cross).’ He continues: ‘It is a complex of sounds destined for perpetual variations, pre-existing in the abstract as a series, but very concrete and easy to recognize by their colours: a steely grey-blue traversed by bright red and orange, a mauve-tinted violet spotted with leather-brown and encircled in deep purple.’ The vision of this work transmitted by Martin Helmchen – a great piano virtuoso who is himself marked by a strong sense of spirituality – is another substantial contribution to the Messiaenic monument. © Alpha Classics
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Classical - Released February 8, 2019 | Alpha

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The Dubhlinn Gardens: an evening in the high society of 18th century Dublin, where traditional music was ‘civilising’ itself for the salon… This programme was inspired by the passion for traditional Irish music that flautist Anna Besson has felt since she was a child. Surprising as it may seem, it was playing the Irish flute that led her to study the baroque instrument… For the past few years Reinoud Van Mechelen too has begun to train himself in the traditional Irish song with Karan Casey and other singers who have specialised in the unaccompanied Sean-nós. This twofold practice of early as well as traditional music has led the ensemble A Nocte Temporis to offer a programme that is both vivacious and extremely touching. © Outhere
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released January 25, 2019 | Alpha

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Mezzo-soprano Eva Zaïcik, who has signed up with Alpha for several recordings, is one of the most prominent vocal artists of her generation. She was chosen as ‘Révélation lyrique’ at the Victoires de la Musique Classique 2018, and elected the same year a Laureate of the prestigious Queen Elizabeth of Belgium Competition. She has participated in the “Jardin des Voix” of les Arts Florissants under William Christie, also regularly collaborates with Le Poème Harmonique and Vincent Dumestre – but her constant accompanist is the harpsichordist Justin Taylor. Together with two other musician graduates, the violinists Théotime Langlois de Swarte, Sophie de Bardonnèche and the gamba player Louise Pierrard, they have founded Le Consort, to explore both sacred and secular works by composers such as Charpentier, Campra and Clérambault. For this recording they are joined by the flautist Anna Besson and gamba player Lucile Boulanger, both well-known to the Alpha label, and Thibault Roussel (theorbo). This recording is devoted to the Cantatas of Lefebvre, Montéclair, Clérambault and Courbois, more than half of which have never previously been recorded. The cantata inspired non-operatic composers to play out the fashionable narratives of the day on a reduced scale, and in the intimate surroundings of the salons. It is a subtle genre and a vivid depiction of the characters. © Outhere Music
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Symphonic Music - Released January 18, 2019 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Le Choix de France Musique
Alpha begins a complete cycle of the symphonies by Sibelius alongside some of his symphonic poems with Gothenburg Symphony and its new chief conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali. In the great tradition of Finnish conductors, Santtu-Matias Rouvali is known for his extremely physical and organic interpretations: ‘Music unmistakeably flows from him’, commented The Sunday Times. This was evident when, at a very young age, he stepped in to conduct a concert with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra which began the journey to his first tenure as Chief Conductor with the Tampere Philharmonic; a meteoric rise to a career working at the highest musical level internationally; and a third post as Principal Guest Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. When Bachtrack asked him how he shapes the orchestral sound, he replied: ‘I sing it, I move my hands the way I want it (…) the conductor should be able to show tempo somewhere in the body (…) I was also a drum kit player, so my feet and hands can do different things at the same time. When you read the score, you sing it in your head (…) I think it’s the sense of inside groove that you get from playing percussion which is very important in Sibelius’s music.’ In the Gothenburg Symphony he finds a prestigious cohort of musicians with an impressive discography, and joins a line of their illustrious musical directors, notably Neeme Järvi, the orchestra’s principal conductor from 1982 to 2004, but also Gustavo Dudamel, who is honorary conductor. © Outhere Music
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Operettas - Released January 11, 2019 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
The elegant Jodie Devos puts her talents to work in service of a fairly unknown known side of Offenbach, taking on several somewhat-forgotten pieces which call for very specific voices, known in Offenbach’s day by names such as "chanteuse d’agilité", "chanteuse à roulade" or "première chanteuse légère". Of course, everyone knows the tune of the doll Olympia from Tales of Hoffmann, or the telling of the death of Eurydice in Orpheus in the Underworld, but the substantial repertoire of the composer's smaller pieces (which he generally referred to as "operettas" to distinguish them from his larger works, his famous opéras bouffe) contains a number of virtuoso arias for coloratura soprano. In them, we hear the vocal imitation of the jeu perlé piano technique or of Paganini's "flying staccato", in which unstinting bravura hides the real difficulty behind something apparently easy. But the difference from many bel canto composers, who merely show off vocals and melody, is that Offenbach knows how to charge these things with emotion, with textual significance, with personality, and with contrasts: simple mechanics never take precedence over diversity. This record allows us to discover a neat little collection of sadly little-known works which are well overdue a return to the French stage. © SM/Qobuz
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Opera - Released January 4, 2019 | Alpha

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With an offbeat cover that looks a little like a 1950s Hollywood movie poster, Hervé Niquet and his Concert Spirituel are offering up a dive into the world of French 17th and 18th century opera, with works by Mondonville, Rameau, Campra, Dauvergne, Francoeur, Leclair, Lully, Charpentier, Marais and rediscovered works by figures with some very Ancien Régime names such as François Colin de Blamont or Toussaint Bertin de la Doué. But behind this procession of names is Hervé Niquet's impish humour: he has cobbled together an imaginary opera to mark 30 years of the Concert Spirituel. He tells the story in his own, inimitable words: "Our story is very simple: a young lead, a courageous fop, loves a most beautiful princess. But an evil sorceress, jealous of this idyll, sets out to hurt our pair however she can. But my lord! Of course! That's exactly the story of an American show that I watched on Thursday afternoons when I was younger: Bewitched! I imagined a cover with a photo of our beloved trio and I showed it to our editor: everyone in the office burst out laughing. Katherine (Watson) alias Samantha, Karine (Deshayes) who plays Endora and Reinoud (van Mechelen) who becomes Darrin Stephens have all become used to my ways and they haven't taken umbrage at this comparison. See how simple the elements of opera are! And at the end of the day, this is the story of a thirty-year love affair with the Concert Spirituel. So: vive le pastiche, and vive Bewitched! Recorded in October 2017 at the Opéra Royal de Versailles in collaboration with the Versailles Baroque Music Centre and the Concert Spirituel, this imaginary opera is very much in keeping with the rules of an era when pasticci abounded and scores weren't set in stone but evolved to match opportunities and singers' personalities. Happy birthday, then, to the Concert Spirituel! © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 4, 2019 | Alpha

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Alpha and the Festival of Aix-en-Provence continue their Young Talents series, in which Laureates of the Académie of the Aix Festival are each accorded an album. The American baritone John Chest enjoys a brilliant career that has already led him to Glyndebourne Festival and the BBC Proms. In partnership with the Brazilian pianist Marcelo Amaral, he presents Die schöne Magelone by Johannes Brahms. Among all the wealth of Lieder that Brahms composed, this is his only real song cycle. Brahms had known these popular tales since his childhood, but it was thanks to Schumann that he discovered the novel published in 1797 by Ludwig Tieck, entitled "The Love Story of the Fair Magelone and Count Peter of Provence". The work is representative of the poetic, idealised reinvention of the Middle Ages so characteristic of German romanticism: stories of star-crossed love, that usually end happily… ‘What strikes the listener most of all is the song cycle’s epic scale – it is a veritable pocket opera, supported by pianistic writing of great complexity,’ writes Timothée Picard in the libretto accompanying this disc – which is illustrated by an original design by Maia Flore, a laurate photographer of the HSBC Foundation: her poetic universe has already featured in the preceding number of the series, "Black is the colour" (debut album of Anna Stéphany). © Alpha Classics/Outhere

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