Albums

£13.79

Classical - To be released June 6, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Booklet

Classical - Released May 25, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Download not available
£13.19
£9.19

Classical - Released May 25, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet
£9.49

Classical - Released May 25, 2018 | harmonia mundi

£13.19
£9.19

Classical - Released May 25, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet
£13.19
£9.19

Classical - Released May 18, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet
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
£13.19
£9.19

Classical - Released May 18, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet
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
£13.19
£9.19

Classical - Released May 18, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet
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
£13.19
£9.19

Classical - Released April 27, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet
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
£13.19
£9.19

Classical - Released April 20, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 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
£13.19
£9.19

Classical - Released April 13, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
The vagaries of the market have led a French pianist to record all his albums in England (Jean-Efflam Bavouzet for Chandos) whereas an English pianist, Paul Lewis, recorded all of his for the French label Harmonia Mundi. They both share a real love of Haydn. While the Frenchman has been recording sonatas by the Austrian composer from the start, Paul Lewis waited until he had assimilated Beethoven's 32 Sonatas and Schubert's as well, so as to be able to get to the root of the repertoire. For his first album dedicated solely to Haydn, he has chosen four sonatas, 32, 40, 49, and 50, allowing him to deploy his whole expressive range, dispelling once and for all the "Papa Haydn" tag that has for so long dogged the great musical innovator. In Paul Lewis's hands, Haydn's music is not that of an ancestor, however good, but of a Viennese classicist, performed with great nuance, a fluid sound and a wonderful, plastic beauty which makes the keyboard sing, underlining Haydn's joyful and puckish side as well as his passing melancholy. © François Hudry/Qobuz
£13.19
£9.19

Symphonic Music - Released April 13, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Recording Ravel's music on period instruments is the kind of thing that might raise a smile... until you realise just how much the production of instruments has changed in less than a hundred years: it's the return of catgut strings, skin drum heads, the French basson (and not the German system bassoon which is used across all the world's orchestras today), shaper tips, trumpets and trombones of French manufacture. At the head of his orchestra Les Siècles, François-Xavier Roth gives a new, orthodox, historically-informed version of Ma Mère l’oye (complete ballet), the Tombeau de Couperin and Shéhérazade, the long-neglected "ouverture de féérie" [Fairy Overture] which is pure Ravel. This return to the roots is clearly easier and more straightforwardly authentic for this period of music history, because, unlike earlier works, we possess recordings which date back to the 1920s, and even earlier, which can tell us about the style, the colours, the phrasing and the tempo. But it isn't enough just to have all this historical information to hand to make something interesting. What makes this record thrilling is that all the musicians in the Siècles are excellent, and François-Xavier Roth is a talented artist himself, who knows this music inside out. At which point, his complete recording of Stravinsky's Firebird has already struck us with its quality. This rediscovery of Ravel resounds with clarity and finesse; it is a feast of well-defined timbres which cuts against the "beautiful sound" which prevails in orchestras around the world today. © François Hudry/Qobuz
£13.19
£9.19

Classical - Released March 9, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice
The Tenebræ responsories come from an immense collection of polyphonic music for Holy Week, the Officium Hebdomadæ Sanctæ, published by Victoria in 1585, which brings together several pieces written during the twenty years he spent in Rome. The responsories, brought together here, form part of a much longer Tenebræ, which essentially combined the monastic Hours of matins and lauds, for each of the final three days of the Holy Week. One of the characteristic traits of this service consists in the progressive extinguishing of fifteen votive candles until the church is finally plunged into the darkness from which the ceremony draws its name. The responsory is one part of a much broader liturgy, which was for the most part sung in plainsong. The musical richness of Victoria's polyphonic compositions made a striking contrast to this liturgy. Such an effect is harder to effect in concert, or even on a recording, where we are outside the liturgical context: here, we have uninterrupted polyphony. While the music is very varied, the uninterrupted use of the same mode and the same textures in three or four pieces throughout these 18 Responsories could, at times, give the impression that one is listening to a single piece. To counteract that impression, here and there the Stile Antico vocal ensemble has introduced extracts from readings of the Lamentations, sung in plainsong at the end of each Responsory. And so the contrast is restored. The programme closes with the luminous and oh-so-soothing six-voice motet for Holy Week O Domine Jesu Christi, again published in Rome in 1576. © SM/Qobuz
£19.79
£13.79

Classical - Released March 9, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
Best known as the composer of three hundred serious airs, Michel Lambert (1610-1696) wrote two full cycles of lessons, both transcribed in an unsigned and undated collection of manuscripts. The first cycle, recorded in its entirety here for the first time, was written in a cursive script, which reproduces as faithfully as possible the vocal ornamentation with all its rhythmic subtleties, but which also retains a few uncertainties when it comes to the placement of chords for the basso continuo. It demands that the musician undertake a detailed work of reconstruction and minute adjustments, alongside an intimate understanding of the soul of this music which inhabits the border separating the sacred from the profane. Under the reign of Louis XIV, Lambert's Leçons de Ténèbres were associated with ceremonies where the court took part in public acts of worship. Contemporary accounts tell us that they were performed by three female singers during the Tenebrae, but Marc Mauillon and his three instrumentalists (viola da gamba, theorbo and positive organ) here offer us a version of male voice, taking into account that Lambert himself must have sung them – the score, while not handwritten, is rather more an aide-mémoire than a version ready to play – and he also sang his own airs de cour. He probably also provided the musical accompaniment – probably on theorbo – alongside viola and theorbo player Nicolas Hotman, from whom our performers have chosen a few instrumental pieces, which serve as preludes, postludes, meditations or respirations between Leçons, which at the time would have formed a part of three liturgical performances in the three days before Easter. While the experience on offer here is different from that which was originally intended for these pieces, it is still certainly worth a listen, not least for the meditative state into which it will plunge the listener. © SM/Qobuz
£19.79
£13.79

Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released March 9, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet
£13.19
£9.19

Classical - Released February 23, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
A fiery partnership. The brainchild of Antoine Tamestit, this recording stems from a long-standing collaboration with his recital partner, Jörg Widmann. Over the course of his new viola concerto, Widmann the composer lets his soloist move freely about the stage, producing fresh orchestral colours within a novel structure: combining humour with earnestness, ferocity with delicacy, Widmann’s unfailing sense of theatre serves to highlight the work’s haunting beauty. Whether embedded in the orchestral fabric or exploring the more intimate pieces on this programme, the violist comes out a hero, hands down! © harmonia mundi

Classical - Released February 23, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Booklet
Download not available
£13.19
£9.19

Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released February 23, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diamant d'Opéra Magazine
With his ensemble Pygmalion, Raphaël Pichon has written the listing for this album in the form of a "pastiche" of a Mass for the Dead, a Requiem both sacred and profane. While it is a long way from having all the defining traits, it does possess all the outlines: Introit, Kyrie, Gradual, Sequence, Offertory, In Paradisum... The idea came about after a recent discovery, in the Bibliothèque Nationale of an anonymous requiem mass from the 18th century, in which the writer constructed a "parody" based on musical extracts from Castor and Pollux and the Fêtes de Paphos by Jean-Philippe Rameau. Note that the term "parody" doesn't necessarily imply satire or mockery: it refers to the practice of taking up older music and setting new words to it. This fusion of sacred music (the mass) and profane music (lyrical tragedy), a common practice during the Enlightenment, was a procedure that Pichon wanted to take up. In French society at the time, when Catholicism was the norm, where the political system was monarchical rule by divine right, the representation of ancient pagan Hell on theatrical stages seemed to betray a fascination in the beliefs of the ancients. And so this programme melds together pagan fable with a Christian imaginary, where Hell takes on different faces. It is the place of unjust and eternal torment, a place of privation where a couple is separated, one half kept in Hades. But, in the lyrical tragedy, Hell is also a place of perdition: obscure forces unleashed in Sabbath rites, a Satanic vision which unearths the darkest depths of the human soul... Stéphane Degout is the author of this tragedy, bringing together such varied characters as Phaedra, Pluto, and the Parcae. The composers whose music is put to use are Rameau and Gluck, with a single borrowing from Rebel: it would have been a shame not to mention his singular Chaos (taken from Éléments), which starts with a dissonant chord containing the seven notes of the scale of D minor. © SM/Qobuz
£19.79
£13.79

Solo Piano - Released February 16, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Unfortunately no, dear reader, there is no such thing as a cycle of “24 Preludes” by Rachmaninoff; however there are indeed 24 Preludes: a collection of ten Op. 23 from 1903, 13 other Op. 32 from 1910 and one isolated Prelude from the Morceaux de fantaisie Op. 3 (Fantasy Pieces) from 1893. In total: 24 Preludes, in which as a simple count shows Rachmaninoff − much like Chopin and of course Bach − illustrated all major and minor tones. Deliberately random, or the involuntary drive to create a reasonably coherent cycle? Contrary to his two illustrious predecessors, Rachmaninoff didn’t order his Preludes according to a specific tonal plan: the musician’s fantasy develops bit by bit. Nikolai Lugansky – described by the famous magazine Gramophone as “the most innovative and transcendent interpreter of all” (so much for the others…), truly an extraordinarily deep and polyvalent pianist – decided to present the Preludes in the order prescribed by partitions, rather than reorganising them according to some hypothetical tonal logic, without knowing if Rachmaninoff would even have recommended or even considered it, particularly as the constant alternation of moods, independently of any tonal consideration, gives the piece a sense of perfect coherence. Finally it’s worth mentioning that Lugansky offers a very “original” interpretation of this divine music, which may feel like a re-discovery to some listeners. © SM/Qobuz
£13.19
£9.19

Chamber Music - Released February 9, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
It was for the occasion of the Covent Garden premiere of his oratorio Joshua in 1748, that Handel composed – or rather arranged – the first of his three Concerti a due cori (« Cori » does not mean here a vocal group, but two instrumental groups – two oboes, two horns, and one bassoon each, a total of ten soloists – answering to each other on the playing grounds provided by the strings), namely the HWV 332. At that time, it was customary to lighten up performances of the largest compositions, especially oratorios, with a sprinkling of instrumental pieces. But as Handel was a busy man and a businessman, and producing so much music so fast was no easy feat. This accounts for the fact that so many of his instrumental pieces are in fact recyclings – transcriptions, reorchestrations, transcriptions, according to what was available and requested – of earlier works, mostly his own, sometimes that of fellow composers – who would not necessarily be informed of the pillage. In the case of Concerto a due cori No. 1, Handel plundered a handful of his own operas and oratorios. The second of Handel's Concerti a due cori, HWV 333, written around the beginning of 1747, was premiered at Covent Garden in 1748 as part of a huge musical banquet, the main course of which was the brand new oratorio Alexander Balus. Here, the composer drew from some of his own English oratorios: Esther and Messiah, the latter still quite unknown. The wind groups take over melodic lines given to singers in the original choral versions of the adapted music. The third Concerto, HWV 334, contains mostly brand new music – yes! – even though the first movement is reworked in part from Handel's so-called Fitzwilliam Overture, for two clarinets and horn, while the concluding Allegro, with its brilliant and difficult horn writing, is a rewrite of a hunting aria from his own opera Partenope. For this recording, the Freiburger Barockorchester has added a twist: each soloist group is accompanied by its own string ensemble, thus creating a higly energetic stereo effect. One orchestra is conducted (from the violin) by Gottfried von der Goltz, the other – also from the Konzertmeister position – by Petra Müllejans. © SM/Qobuz

Label

harmonia mundi in the magazine