Albums

Classical - Released July 13, 2018 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 1, 2014 | harmonia mundi

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Opera - Released April 7, 2014 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released June 29, 2018 | harmonia mundi

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Bye bye… or Berlin for ever? Throughout the 1920s, all eyes were turned towards Berlin. Driven by a collective energy, artists of all persuasions (writers, painters, architects, filmmakers and composers) there established the principles of “New Objectivity”, which saw the city become the very epitome of modernity, at the same time as following in the footsteps of other great cities worldwide, not least New York, the birthplace of jazz. Life in Berlin was not the stuff of romance however: strikes, poverty, repression, the rise of Nazism… The post-war social context contributed to the craze that swept the capital for cabaret, a kind of safety valve that allowed for a moral and social release. It is this ephemeral, underground world of “Great Berlin” as depicted in The Blue Angel that Marion Rampal and the Quatuor Manfred invite us to rediscover here, in collaboration with saxophonist Raphaël Imbert: a liberal burst of freedom and humanity delivered with passion! © harmonia mundi
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Solo Piano - Released June 29, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
Released as one of nine new albums dedicated to Debussy by harmonia mundi to mark the centenary of the French composer's birth, this volume offers the Second Book of the Preludes played by Alexander Melnikov on an Erard piano. The world of Debussyan piano relied so heavily on timbre that pianists and editors alike often prefer one or another make so as to get a grip on the specificities of the music. Alexander Melnikov is one of those rare Russian artists to take an interest in ancient instruments. This student of Sviatoslav Richter was quickly captivated by this kind of work, working with Andreas Staier and Alexey Lubimov and playing with specialised ensembles like the Concerto Köln or the Berlin Akademie für Alte Musik. His performance of the Preludes by Debussy at London's Wigmore Hall was particularly well received by critics who described the Russian pianist as a "sorcerer" who is highlighting "ravishing", "violent", "terrifying" music. An iridescent orchestral masterpiece, La Mer is difficult to boil down to a four-handed piano piece, and Debussy disowned his transcription, leaving it to André Caplet to prepare another one for two four-handed pianos. Alexandre Melnikov and Olga Pashchenko have taken up the challenge to prove that the auteur's transcription is not at all "unplayable". © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Symphonic Music - Released June 22, 2018 | harmonia mundi

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Moving from Palestrina to Boulez with stupefying ease, Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado is interested in all music, beyond boundaries of epochs and styles. For this album, recorded as part of the publications planned by French label harmonia mundi to mark Debussy's centenary, Heras-Casado is conducting the famous London Philharmonic Orchestra, which, much like him, can happily play all sorts of music. It's a classic programme: the Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, which shows off the splendour of Samuel Coles's flute, and La Mer, shimmering and diaphanous, but whose rising tide gracefully carries all before in the train of the the London orchestra's flamboyant brass. Rarer are the symphonic extracts from the The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, a somewhat ill-starred work, a kind of ballet-oratorio for solo vocalists, mixed choir and symphonic orchestra that Debussy had written for the dancer Ida Rubinstein, based on a fashionably outdated text by Gabriele D'Annunzio. The original work, in five acts, lasted five hours and was threatened with a ban by the Archbishop of Paris, who was shocked by the heathen representation of the young Sebastian, who resembled a beautiful Adonis. This transfiguration, in fact already made by many painters of the Italian Renaissance, was surely too much for the era, and the work had no success, in spite of the beauty of Debussy's music. Only the "symphonic fragments", recorchestrated by André Caplet, survived the shipwreck. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Solo Piano - Released June 22, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released June 15, 2018 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released June 15, 2018 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released June 15, 2018 | harmonia mundi

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Chamber Music - Released June 6, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Careful, you don’t want to miss this! For ten years, there have been so many Goldberg Variations invading the market, both on piano and on harpsichord, that we didn’t expect to be so surprised, to feel such amazement. After several absolutely fascinating projects, first with Pan Classics (Scarlatti, Soler), then a first album with Harmonia Mundi devoted to Padre Soler rare Sonatas (awarded with a Qobuzism), here again comes Spanish harpsichordist Diego Ares—born in Vigo in 1983—playing Johann Sebastian Bach, with probably one of the Cantor’s most complex works; Diego Ares astonishes with his rigor, his imagination and his freedom, both in the phrasing, the registrations, the ornamentation, the sense of surprise (Variation 25). The harmonies sound implacable, often harsh, yet still radiate in a supreme way (Variation 28); this is the left hand, full and musical, but above all incredibly flexible, that is also able to rear up, to create sometimes surprising suspensions in time, always fluid and coherent, which opens real places of communication and distinguish the amazing narrative sense deployed by Diego Ares throughout this interpretation. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz

Classical - Released May 25, 2018 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released May 25, 2018 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released May 25, 2018 | harmonia mundi

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The French label harmonia mundi has pulled out all the stops for the 2018 commemoration of the centenary of the death of Claude Debussy, by asking their "house" artists to record the works of the great French composer. Cultural ambassadors for Israel (not always an easy job), the Jerusalem Quartet was created in 1996 and quickly became known as one of the foremost ensembles of the genre, thanks to the power of their playing, the warmth of their performances, and a particularly dense and sensual instrumental colour. Their recordings – thirteen albums for the harmonia mundi label – regularly win awards and critical acclaim in the press. This new recording of the quartets by Debussy and Ravel (a now-classic pairing which seems to have decreed that the two bodies of work will be joined at the hip, even though their authors neither wanted nor observed such a kinship) clearly towers above an already-ample discography. Velvety sounds, dreamy poetry (a marvellous Andantino from Debussy's Quartet), unbridled wildness and youthful energy are all brought into this subtly-treated party, where flowery sentiments mingle as in a novel by Marcel Proust. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released May 25, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Bach's "Dialogue Cantatas" generally portrayed Jesus in dialogue with the human soul, first tormented and then at peace. The three cantatas selected here by Berlin's Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, which has, over the years since 1982 (with over a million records sold!) brought together musicians from the city's different orchestras – first those under Soviet rule and then all orchestras following the fall of the Wall – are a part of this genre; all date from the great Leipzig period, specifically the third cycle written by Bach for Leipzig in 1726. It will come as no surprise, hearing these cantatas, that the essence of the first arias is desperate, heart-rending: and as they go on, they move towards relief and joy. It is in these first moments that we see Bach at his most intense, most pained, most chromatic, terribly modern as well as at his most romantic, profoundly lyrical and yet rigorous in the musical discourse. The most superbly original piece is surely the Cantata BWV 49, which begins with a Sinfonia with obbligato organ – in which the listener will recognise the final movement of the Harpsichord Concerto in E Major, when Bach recycled it a dozen years later – and continues with an aria with cello and oboe, both soloists immersed in the soprano's joyous voice; and we finish on a magnificent chorale with an aria – the aria being for the bass of the solo organ, while the soprano part sings the chorale's theme from on high: a staggering display of modernity. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released May 18, 2018 | harmonia mundi

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A joyful Trinity. Graham Ross concludes his exploration of music for the liturgical calendar with a programme focusing on the Holy Trinity, as reflected in music of the Russian and British traditions. From the works of the New Russian Choral School led by Tchaikovsky to more modern pieces such as those of Britten, with excursions into the Renaissance and contemporary creation, Graham Ross skilfully brings out the multiple correspondences between the choral traditions that have become established over the centuries around the mystery of the Trinity. © harmonia mundi
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Cello Concertos - Released May 18, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
After two albums which met with unanimous critical acclaim all over the world, the Resonanz Ensemble, based in Hamburg, is offering a recording dedicated to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: the Cello Concertos wq. 170 and Wq. 172, respectively from 1750 and 1753, and the Symphonie Wq. 173 of 1741. The listener will immediately note the radical difference in language between the two concertos, written after the death of Bach Senior, and the Symphony, written while he was still alive: the concertos keep their eyes firmly fixed on the nascent classical era, including the "Sturm und Drang" which still lay ahead (in this regard, the Concerto in A Minor which opens the album, full of force and melodic power, is an excellent example), whereas the Symphony takes the final throes of baroque as its point of departure. Cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras and the Resonanz Ensemble offer a crystal-clear reading, conducted by their new musical director in residence, violinist Riccardo Minasi: and coolly resist the vogue – which can be quite intrusive, or even dictatorial or exclusive – for period instruments, which seems to hold that any music before Mozart (and even sometimes Mozart too) may not be played on modern instruments. Queyras, Resonanz and Minasi are all able to make use of stylistic elements gleaned from the fashion for baroque. This is a very fine album, superbly played, which really brings out all the originality of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released May 18, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Clocking in at a full hour, the Octet in F Major is one of the longest works in the chamber music repertoire. Ravaged by disease, Schubert took as his starting point, as expressly stipulated in the commission he received from the Steward of the Archduke Rodolphe, Beethoven's Septet in E-flat major Op. 20, whose fame greatly chagrined its writer. In Schubert's Octet there is a certain joie de vivre cut across, as ever with him, by occasional notes of desperation (the call of the horn in the first movement, the elegiac turns of the Adagio). In order to meet his patron's very precise specifications, he used the same instrumentation, with the addition of a second violin, and he took on the same order of movements and the same tonal pattern as the Beethovian model. But while Schubert poured his work into this mould so as to please his client, he wrote a very personal work which, by his own account, would lead him towards the great symphonic form which would appear rather later with his Symphony No. 9 in C major. Isabelle Faust and friends make you laugh and cry, moving in perfect unison from one emotion to another, never hesitating to lay this sublime music bare, without any recourse to affected vibrato or excessive expression. A performance that brings us close to the fragility of existence. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released April 27, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Prises de son d'exception
We could say that the composers chosen here by Sébastien Daucé and the Ensemble Correspondances cover England from 1600 to 1700, from Coprario's generation (real name Cooper, but Italicised for fashion reasons!), Johnson and Lanier, all born before the turn of the 17th century, up to Hart and Blow who died just after. Step by step, we follow the integration of the new art brought over from Italy, although the typically-Italian recitations remain coloured by "declamation", a typical feature of English music. Another clear pivot is the twenty-year musical hiatus between the start of the Civil War in 1642 and the Restoration with Charles II's return to the throne, and in between, the Puritan religious dictatorship of Cromwell, which tried to ban more or less any form of celebration, including music. A number of English artists chose exile in the countryside, teaching music, or went abroad. This comprehensive selection spanning a whole century allows the Correspondances ensemble, a broad group of singers and instrumentalists, to show their deep knowledge of this whole epoch, which is extremely rich despite often precarious conditions of life and threats to survival. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released April 20, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
After celebrating thirty years of life and work together with the Trios by Dvořak, our three wandering companions (Vincent Coq, piano, Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian, violin and Raphaël Pidoux, cello) have brought out another round of Trios, this time by Joseph Haydn, the inventor of this form, which is an inheritor of the baroque trio sonata, with a cello part often providing the basso continuo. There are 39 authentic compositions by Haydn for this instrumental format, which he wrote at various points throughout his life. The music is of very high quality and it unites all the characteristic forms of his style, his vivacity, expression, freedom of tone and form, and the zest of his cheering humour. The Wanderers have judiciously selected their works from three different epochs for this new album which offers the Trios n° 14, 18, 21, 26 & 31 which offer plenty of surprises and rare tonalities from Haydn, like A-flat major, F-sharp minor, or E-flat minor. The performance is both fluent and lucid. © François Hudry/Qobuz

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