Albums

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Symphonic Music - Released February 22, 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 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 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 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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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released March 1, 2019 | Alpha

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Franz Liszt was 67 when he composed his Via Crucis, yet it did not receive its first performance until 1929, 43 years after the composer’s death. This work of his mature years is in 15 sections, retracing the Stations of the Cross that mark the stages of Christ’s Passion, from being condemned to death to being laid in the tomb. Combining Gregorian chant, the Lutheran liturgy and the Latin, German and Aramaic languages, the Via Crucis shows real formal originality. A devout believer, Liszt gives us here his most important sacred work. He composed several versions: for mixed choir, soloists and organ (with the organ part optionally transcribed for piano), for piano solo, organ solo, and two pianos. After a first programme devoted to Janáček, the Collegium Vocale founded by Philippe Herreweghe is once again conducted by Reinbert de Leeuw in this Alpha recording. © Outhere
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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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Concertos - To be released March 22, 2019 | Alpha

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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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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - To be released April 19, 2019 | Alpha

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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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Solo Piano - Released October 6, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama
‘Sophisticated colourist and cerebral virtuoso though he is, Nelson Goerner nevertheless brings out the moments of weakness, the hesitations, the lightning passions in the labyrinth of Chopin’, wrote Diapason on the release of the Preludes in 2015 (Diapason d’Or, Choc de Classica). ‘Serenity’, ‘balance’, ‘clarity’, ‘phrasing’ are the key words that recur in reviews of the discs and concerts of the Argentine pianist, whose fifth solo release on Alpha this is. His latest venture is a complete recording of the Nocturnes, a highpoint of Chopinesque poetry. These twenty-one miniatures accompanied Chopin over a good part of his life, for he composed them between 1827 and 1848. They are tributes to Italian bel canto, expressing reveries but also complexity of feeling and a profundity that far transcends their apparent simplicity. Nelson Goerner’s feeling for melody and tempo works wonders in these pieces, which he recorded in the ideal surroundings of the Salle de Musique of La Chaux de Fonds (Switzerland). © Alpha
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Classical - Released March 17, 2011 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Violin Concertos - Released August 28, 2008 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released September 10, 2013 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
Those following the output of the remarkable French label Alpha should note that this does not contain the art-historical essay included with many of the label's releases, even though it looks for all the world like it should: the cover shows a detail from a painting of Maria Josepha of Austria (it is apparently the younger Maria Josepha, Louis XVI's mother, who is shown) that is included in full on the inside. There is, however, access to an informative essay on Vivaldi and his relationship to the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, the girls' orphanage where the concertos heard on the album were composed. (Historians disagree as to whether the institution served the poor or the illegitimate daughters of the wealthy who had to be closeted away, however.) The program presents one half of Vivaldi's L'estro armonico, Op. 3, a set of concerti grossi for from one to four violins, at times a cello, and orchestra that were probably Vivaldi's best-known pieces until the Four Seasons exploded in popularity in the 1970s. It's difficult to stand out from the crowd here, but the almost leaderless Café Zimmermann (it has a concertmaster, Pablo Valetti) offers a distinctive approach. This historical-instrument group, as international as its name, gets logistical kudos for bringing together a large group of Guadagnini instruments from the middle of the 18th century. The result is an unusually nice string sound, both lush and bright, in both the tutti (four violins, two violas, two cellos) and the solo parts. The soloists are nicely distinguished from each other in both the playing and the engineering, and the numerous antiphonal effects and intricate textures in the multiple-instruments concerts are very clearly sorted out. One misses a certain crack brilliance that marks the great Vivaldi performances, but at the same time it's good to have a historical-instrument group that plays the music straightforwardly, without the heavily dramatic, quasi-operatic effects of the contemporary Italian school. Sample and enjoy.
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Classical - Released November 14, 2013 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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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
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released June 8, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
In 1668, Dietrich Buxtehude, then thirty one years old, took up the very sought-after tenure of organist at the Marienkirche in Lübeck, then a Hanseatic metropolis of considerable relevance; the organist had at that time one of the most desirable social statuses. He soon caused a sensation with the church concerts he held outside of religious services and that happened every year, in the early evening, on the five Sundays preceding Christmas. During these “Abendmusiken” (vespertine music), as they were called, were sometimes performed great works falling withing the oratorio genre, but more often was performed a mix of instrumental pieces, church tunes, psalm arrangements and cantata-like works. From the 1700s, these series of concerts had become a major cultural event of the city. Released from the daily handling of religious music handled by the Marienkirche’s Cantor—as was often the case at the time in North Germany—, Buxtehude only composed works on his own initiative, which allowed him to give them a quality level noticeably higher than that of the Cantor, for example, forced to compose non-stop, from one Sunday to another. The cantatas recorded here demonstrate the high artistic ambitions of these vocal works: they often digress from stylistic and generic conventions of their time and answer the tasks imposed by the texts with bold musical solutions, daring and absolutely splendid. The sonatas from Buxtehude completing the vocal program of this disc are also characterized by their markedly experimental character. Olivier Fortin’s Masques Ensemble—recorder, strings, positive organ—and Lionel Meunier’s Vox Luminis join forces to offer us these gems from the turn of the North German 18th century, such gems that the young Bach didn’t hesitate, in 1705, to travel on foot from Arnstadt—a 100-league trip—to come listen to Buxtehude, his organ play and probably his famous Abendmusiken. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 10, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama

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