Albums

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Concertos - To be released April 12, 2019 | Alpha

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Chamber Music - To be released April 5, 2019 | Alpha

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Classical - Released March 15, 2019 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet
Two years after releasing her CD dedicated to Book I of J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Céline Frisch now presents the second volume of this musical landmark. Bach compiled Book II in 1744, twenty-two years after Book I. It took until 1801 for both volumes to be printed: from then until the present day they have inspired countless composers. After a series of recordings with the Ensemble Zimmermann she helped to found, Céline Frisch returns to the harpsichord recital, for a programme of this, her very favourite music. Through these preludes and fugues, she reminds us that far from being technical exercises, the Well- Tempered Clavier is a work of pure pleasure and constant renewed discovery. As Robert Schumann declared: ‘You should frequently play the fugues of the great masters, particularly those of J.S. Bach. Make the Well-Tempered Clavier your daily bread.’ © Alpha Classics
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Classical - Released March 8, 2019 | Alpha

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Following his recording of J. S. Bach’s solo cantatas for alto BWV 35 and 170 (issued in 2009), countertenor Damien Guillon has continued his work of research and interpretation, devoting a second album to the Cantata BWV 169 for alto solo and to the famous BWV 82 Ich habe genug ; though better known in its 1727 version for bass, from 1735 onwards it was also performed by an alto voice. To complement this cantata programme, organist Maude Gratton performs Bach’s Prelude and Fugue BWV 543, as well as the chorales Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, BWV 662, BWV 663 & BWV 664. © Alpha Classics
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Classical - Released March 1, 2019 | Alpha

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Ernest Chausson is a most unusual figure in French music, positioned at the crossroads where the romanticism of Berlioz and Franck meet the language of Wagner and the symbolism of the young Debussy. His Poème de l’amour et de la mer is a unique score for the period and certainly his greatest work; simultaneously a profane, naturistic cantata, a monologue, and a song cycle, it was composed between 1882 and 1892. Véronique Gens is recording this cycle for the first time, although she has already issued Le temps des lilas with Susan Manoff at the piano ("Néère"), about which Ernst Van Bek wrote in Classiquenews: « it mesmerises with the nuancing of its colours, the allusive precision of every sung word ». Véronique Gens’ talent is equally on display in this recording too, with the Orchestre National de Lille – an orchestra she already knows well – under Alexandre Bloch, its new chief conductor, whose appointment and first concerts and recordings have already caused a sensation… The Symphony in B-flat major completes this programme: a summit of French symphonic writing, for some a milestone as important as the Symphony in D of Chausson’s teacher César Franck! © Outhere Music
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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

Hi-Res Booklet
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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Classical - Released November 23, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice
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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
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Classical - Released November 16, 2018 | Alpha

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Classical - Released November 2, 2018 | Alpha

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Classical - Released October 19, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet
Alexander Lonquich has his own special place in the world of the piano: this German pianist, who made his home in Italy, has enjoyed an untypical career. A disciple of Paul Badura-Skoda, he is highly respected by many conductors and instrumental artists, such as Philippe Herreweghe, Nicolas Altstaedt and Christian Tetzlaff, with all of whom he collaborates on a regular basis. Navigating his way between the modern and the early piano, he takes the time needed to allow programmes to properly mature, working on them and thinking them over for several years. Such was also the case for this recording, carefully made on a modern Steinway piano, and we have genuinely fallen in love with it. As Alexander Lonquich’s accompanying notes to this album testify, the artist has intensively reflected on and lived with the music of Schubert before recording it. The year of Schubert’s death, which took place on 19th November 1828, was marked - particularly from its springtime - by an extraordinary burst of artistic creativity, produced at a frenetic working pace. It was during this period that he composed the three last piano sonatas and the threeKlavierstücke that make up this programme. © Alpha Classics
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Classical - Released October 12, 2018 | Alpha

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Classical - Released October 12, 2018 | Alpha

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Classical - Released October 5, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet
In Rome between the late seventeenth century and the early eighteenth, academies and ‘conversazioni’ (artistic gatherings) organised by aristocrats and cardinals attracted the leading writers and musicians. The names of Arcangelo Corelli, Alessandro Scarlatti and the young G. F. Handel stand out among many others. Giovanni Lorenzo Lulier (Rome, c.1660-1700), a cellist and composer known as ‘Giovanni del Violone’, participated in this intensive musical activity. [...] When he entered the entourage of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, in 1690, Lulier already had a decade of compositional activity behind him in the genres of oratorio, opera and above all the chamber cantata. Originally consisting of a succession of strophic arias, the cantata gradually established itself as a poetic and musical genre characterised by alternating recitatives and arias. [...] As is well known, the conversazioni of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries also included the performance of instrumental music. © Alpha Classics
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Opera Extracts - Released September 28, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Qobuzissime
The first solo album from the excellent youngster Julien Behr, who has already played at the Paris Opéra, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the Bordeaux and Lyon Opera Houses and cities such as Salzburg, Vienna, London, Cologne and many other great venues as well as making recordings of various lyrical works including L’Enfant et les sortilèges with Bavarian Radio. As debut albums go, he has made a daring choice in selecting some of the more unknown areas of French opera rather than the more popular pieces from Don José, Romeo, Faust and other big names. Instead, he has taken some gems from the Romantic repertoire (if we extend it up to the First World War for the sake of argument) which are little-heard of. From Gounod, he has selected Cinq-Mars ; from Bizet, La Jolie fille de Perth (one of Bizet's most exquisite passages); from Thomas, Mignon; and then, better-known but still uncommon, Léhar The Merry Widow; Godard, Jocelyn; and Delibes Lakmé. His diction is utterly impeccable; his transparent and airy voice evokes Heddle Nach or Jussi Björling, which serves the repertoire perfectly. The album closes with a few hits from the Romantic repertoire such as Vous qui passez sans me voir by Charles Trenet – well, the lyrics are from the Fou chantant, while the music is by Johnny Hess and Paul Misraki, and the song was originally written for Jean Sablon – evidence of Behr's love of lighter genres, for sure. . © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released September 21, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 étoiles de Classica
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Chamber Music - Released September 14, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet
"The harpsichord is perfect as to it compass, and brilliant in itself, but as it is impossible to swell out or diminish the volume of its sound, I shall always feel grateful to any who, by the exercise of infinite art supported by fine taste, contrive to render this instrument capable of expression", writes Couperin himself in the foreword to his 1713 Premier livre de pièces de clavecin. If we discount the ornamentations which litter the world, Couperin's music is not a "virtuoso" music, as Scarlatti's can be, for example. Sometimes taking on a descriptive style, or going in for imitation or portrait, it requires a singular sense of expression: that very "expression" that the composer talks about here. In Art de toucher le clavecin, Couperin offers us precious information on how to interpret and play his music in particular, and French music of the period in general; an artist who aims to respect Couperin's intentions will find indispensable lessons here. That being said, a fear of stepping outside the bounds set by the author, and a too-minute attention to every detail could rob the works of their vitality and fluency. "As there is a great distance from grammar to declamation, so there is an infinitely greater one between the tablature and good playing style." Or, in other words, freedom within limits! That is the attitude that Olivier Fortin brings to this fine range of works from the great Couperin, drawn from various of his Livres de clavecin and L’Art de toucher le clavecin. As for the instrument being played, it is a "real fake", made in 1984 by the manufacturer Martin Skowroneck based on a Hemsch (that is, 18th century French), but signed with the name of the Rouen artistan Nicholas Lefebvre, none of whose instruments survive to the present day, and which was built in 1755. Skowroneck's aim was to prove to Gustav Leonhardt that it was still possible to build a harpsichord that was perfectly identical to one of the old style, and it seems that Leonhardt was taken with his attempt. Even the material's ageing was completely artificial! But it is no less of a splendid instrument for all that, and moreover, splendidly recorded, which is not all that common in the harpsichord repertoire. © SM/Qobuz

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