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Classical - Released November 5, 2021 | Orfeo

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Even if some people still consider him “too modern” today, Hanau-born Hesse Paul Hindemith is undoubtedly one of the most influential German composers of the generation after Richard Strauss. Few of his immediate colleagues have found their way into the international repertoire to the same extent that he has, or influenced subsequent generations through comparably extensive educational work. All three works for clarinet featured on this recording date from years of extensive travel: the Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano was written in 1938 around the time of his emigration to Switzerland, the Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in 1939 during the course of the tours of the USA that immediately followed the emigration, and finally, the Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra in 1947 (written for and premiered by Benny Goodman) when Hindemith left his American exile to visit Europe again for the first time after the Second World War. Sharon Kam has teamed up with her long-standing musical partners Enrico Pace, Antje Weithaas and Julian Steckel for the chamber music part of the album, and with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony under the musical direction of Daniel Cohen for the Clarinet Concerto. © Orfeo
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Classical - Released November 5, 2021 | Orfeo

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Alexander Zemlinsky composed his Lyric Symphony, Op. 18 for soprano, baritone and orchestra during his time as musical director of the New German Theatre in Prague, where he had moved in 1911 from Vienna. It was generally regarded as his corresponding equivalent to Mahler’s Lied von der Erde and is based on Nobel Prize laureate and most important representative of modern Indian literature Rabindranath Tagore. The work is combined with the befriended and three years older "phantasmogorist" Franz Schreker’s Prelude to a Drama, which is a version of the overture of his Die Gezeichneten. It might be considered symptomatic for the most notable characteristic of Schreker’s music: the dominance of chordal sounds over the melodic element. © Orfeo
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Classical - Released September 3, 2021 | Orfeo

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Some recordings are love at first sound. Others take a few minutes to work their way into one’s affections. With “Four Visions of France” it’s most definitely a case of the former, because right from the first seconds of its curtain-raising Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1 you know you’re in for a ripping ride, as that initial fortissimo orchestral chord explodes with a sharp, plump bang around Berlin’s Jesus-Christus-Kirche, followed after a nanosecond by an urgent yet supremely elegant, legato’d, rubato’d Müller-Schott. Then onwards, and it’s a constant succession of fresh pleasures: the noblesse, sophistication, range of colours and technical finesse that Müller-Schott has brought to the three through-written movements’ continuously shifting landscapes; his capacity for gossamer delicacy, such as his exquisite pianissimo leap up to high A in bar 72 (first movement); then the degree to which the orchestra under Bloch can create an airily floating pianissimo, together with the light transparency and supple flow they’re bringing to the table overall. Essentially, it’s not hard to hear the fruits either of bringing in Alexandre Bloch (chief conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille, and a cellist himself), or of Müller-Schott’s early exposure to this repertoire and the French cello school via his teachers Walter Nothas and Heinrich Schiff – both Paris pupils of André Navarra. It really is four very distinct visions of French music too, because from the Saint-Saëns of 1872 with its light colours and impressionistic transparency, we then move to Honegger’s Cello Concerto in C major of 1929, full of the influence of Stravinsky and jazz – and make sure you enjoy the terrific trumpet playing, plus the chamber awareness between Müller-Schott and the orchestra as they flex their jazz bones. Lalo’s D minor Concerto (1876) meanwhile brings darker, more Brahmsian colours flecked with Spanish fire. Add Fauré’s Élégie’s (1880) warm, lyric Romanticism – met but never over-egged by Müller-Schott, his many micro-colourings including some ear-prickingly dark portamenti on the theme’s restatement before the central section – plus Saint-Saëns’s Romance in F major to conclude by bringing is back full circle to light transparency, and this really is a recording to savour. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Opera - Released September 3, 2021 | Orfeo

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Georgian baritone George Gagnidze - characterized by the American opera magazine Opera Now as a "gentle bear of a man" - on his long-awaited debut album presents celebrated and diverse opera characters such as Verdi’s murderous Count di Luna (Il trovatore), the vengeful Renato (Un ballo in maschera), the loyal friend Posa (Don Carlos), the great kink Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco) and – outside the Verdi canon – Andrea Chénier’s revolutionary colleague Gérard, Mozart’s notorious seducer Don Giovanni and Wolfram (Tannhäuser), who pines for the love of Elisabeth. © Orfeo
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released August 20, 2021 | Orfeo

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Orfeo honours Júlia Várady as one of the most important sopranos of the second half of the 20th century with the release of this 10-album boxed set "The Orfeo Recordings" on the occasion of her 80th anniversary on 1st September. A significant number of opera lovers and connoisseurs maintain that Maria Callas’ mantle ought to have passed to Júlia Várady, and that the (now eighty-year-old) Romanian-Hungarian-German soprano actually should, in her day, have ascended the international throne of the prima donna assoluta. But as it is said, her loyalty to her two musical homes, the Bavarian State Opera and the Deutsche Oper Berlin, prevented this. Nonetheless, she made guest appearances at all the world’s major opera theaters – but she was apparently not available to the market as unrestrictedly and ubiquitously as would have been necessary for her image, in order for her to be enthroned as the Várady (as the legitimate successor of the Callas). In addition to her loyalty to the two aforementioned opera houses, another reason seemed to be a natural modesty that prevented her from constantly drawing attention to herself (with a reputation, for example, of being the “difficult one,“ or even with scandals). Her marriage to the titan Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in 1977 may also have played a role, as she often and willingly stepped into his shadow. © Orfeo
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Classical - Released August 6, 2021 | Orfeo

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This recording of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem – an “opera in ecclestiastical robes”, as conductor Hans von Bülow called it – was recorded in October 1980 at Stiftskirche Herzogenburg with Julia Varady, Alexandrina Milcheva, Alberto Cupido, Nicola Ghiuselev, ORF Choir and ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Leif Segerstam. The Messa da Requiem is a musical setting of the Catholic funeral mass (Requiem) for four soloists, double choir and orchestra by Giuseppe Verdi. It was composed in memory of Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian poet and novelist whom Verdi admired. The first performance, at the San Marco church in Milan on 22 May 1874, marked the first anniversary of Manzoni's death. The work was at one time referred to as the "Manzoni" Requiem. Considered too operatic to be performed in a liturgical setting, it is usually given in concert form of around 90 minutes in length. Musicologist David Rosen calls it "probably the most frequently performed major choral work composed since the compilation of Mozart's Requiem". © Orfeo
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Classical - Released August 6, 2021 | Orfeo

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Thirty pianistic “delicacies” from the Orfeo back catalogue, including Liszt’s Liebesträume, Scriabin’s Poèmes Op. 32, Debussy’s Épigraphes antiques, Chopin’s Etude “Butterfly Wings” (Op. 25 No. 9), Schubert’s Wanderer-Fantasy, Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, etc. In this compilation, Josef Bulva’s interpretation of Szymanowski’s Masques, Op. 34 No. 1 and Oleg Maisenberg’s Scriabin interpretations are made available for the first time on album. Some of our era’s finest pianists are heard in their prime on this compilation, including Vardan Mamikonian, Amir Katz, Konstantin Lifschitz, Gerhard Oppitz, and more. © Orfeo
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Classical - Released June 18, 2021 | Orfeo

Germany’s oldest Mozart festival celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2021. The present jubilee boxed set presents previously unpublished treasures from the archive of the Bavarian Broadcasting. All live recordings from the Baroque Imperial Hall at Würzburg Residence are digital remasters. The Mozart Festival Würzburg, like the Salzburg Festival, ranks among the most well-known festivals of classic music in the German-speaking world. Each year between May and June internationally renowned symphony orchestras perform Mozart's masterpieces in more than 60 concerts. It is a mixture of indoor and open-air concerts in the unique atmosphere of Würzburg Residence and its court gardens. Today between 25,000 and 30,000 people from all over the world visit Würzburg to join this musical event. © Orfeo
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Opera - Released June 4, 2021 | Orfeo

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Having joined the ensemble of Deutsche Oper Berlin at the age of 22 and the ensemble of Wiener Staatsoper in 2013, Israeli-born Hila Fahima presents a mix of well-known selections and rediscovered treasures on her debut album: Donizetti’s Lucia, Norina, Linda di Chamounix, Adina, Marie from La fille du regiment, plus Verdi’s Gilda – she will be starring in this role at this year’s Bregenz Festival – and also Amalia from his I masnadieri, as well as arias from Donizetti’s little-known operas Rosmonda d’Inghilterra and Emilia di Liverpool. © Orfeo
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Chamber Music - Released June 4, 2021 | Orfeo

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After her critically acclaimed album debut in October 2020, ARD music competition 2018 winner Selina Ott presents her second album together with her duo partner En-Chia Lin. The album presents works composed around 1950 that are hardly found in concerts and on recordings: Arthur Honegger’s Intrada, the chamber music version of Alfred Desenclos’ Incantation, Thrène et Danse – whose orchestral version appeared on her debut album with the ORF RSO – Swiss composer Heinrich Sutermeister’s Gavotte de concert, Sergei Vasilenko’s Concert-Poème and Reinhold Glière’s Concerto (in the original version for coloratura soprano and orchestra). © Orfeo
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Opera - Released May 7, 2021 | Orfeo

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When the Court Opera Director Wilhelm Jahn commissioned the by no means unvain Johann Strauss Jr. to write a "genuine" opera, he readily accepted. So, he wrote Ritter Pásmán, a work the Waltz King himself regarded as his only one in this genre, although the plot is basically like an operetta. The source was the narrative Pázmán lovag by the Hungarian writer János Aranyi (1817-1882). It deals with jealousy and a kind of tit-for-tat. The premiere of the comic opera at the Vienna Court Opera on New Year’s Day 1892 was a major society event, but its artistic success lagged somewhat behind. The reviewers of the premiere were distanced towards the work. On the one hand, they unanimously elevated the ballet music at the beginning of Act III to the status of an absolute masterpiece. By the way, this was the first time that a cimbalom could be heard in the orchestra of the Court Opera. The present live recording was captured at the Vienna Musikverein on 27 October 1975, with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Heinz Wallberg, Eberhard Wächter as Ritter Pásmàn, Sona Ghazarian as Queen, Josef Hopfwieser as Hungarian King, and Truedeliese Schmidt as Eva as main cast. The recording includes the complete ballet music as bonus tracks, performed by the Slovac State Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Alfred Walter. © Orfeo
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Opera - Released April 2, 2021 | Orfeo

The Naxos label had already released a DVD of a live 2008 performance at the Teatro Real in Madrid of Verdi's Un ballo in maschera under the direction of the great Spanish conductor Jesús López Cobos, who died in 2018. This release presents the audio recorded on the stage of the Vienna Opera in 2016 and marketed by the same label. This publication honours two great artists who passed away shortly after this performance: the baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Renato and Jesús López Cobos, who gives superb impetus to Verdi's masterpiece, at the helm of the Wiener Staatsoper Orchestra, a part of the Vienna Philharmonic.In April 2016, the great Russian baritone's voice was already damaged by illness, and he had to start heavy chemotherapy a few weeks after this series of performances, cancelling several of his contracts. However, he remained utterly committed to this role, in which he played a jealous man in a performance full of powerful despair. Polish tenor Piotr Beczała won great acclaim in the role of King Gustav III of Sweden, especially for his duet with Krassimira Stoyanova's splendid Amelia. As expected, Nadia Krasteva brings a visionary treatment to the spectacular role of the gypsy witch Ulrica. Israeli soprano Hila Fahima plays the charming page Oscar with an agility that is both casual and precise. An excellent reflection of what one of the world's greatest stages can offer on a daily basis. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released April 2, 2021 | Orfeo

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Hector Berlioz‘ Lélio, ou Le retour à la vie was a sequel to his Symphonie fantastique, the second part of the Episode of the life of an artist, which had premiered in 1830 at the Paris Conservatory. The piece that is made up of six sections was written and composed during his travels to and in Italy; for this he made use in part of material that he had already prefabricated for the prestigious Rome Prize. Berlioz and the Irish Shakespearean actress Harriet Smithson, whose rejection he had tried to compensate in the Symphonie fantastique, got married in 1833. (It should be noted that marriage by no means turned out to be the fulfillment of all dreams). In his Mémoires, about Lélio’s premiere performance in December 1832 at the Paris Conservatory, Berlioz noted the following phrases about his future wife: “... the passionate character of the work, its ardent melodies, its exclamations of love, its outbursts of anger [...] must have made an unexpected and deep impression on her sensitive nature and poetic imagination. [...] When in the monodrama the actor Bocage, who recited the role of Lélio (that is, myself), pronounced the following words: ‘Oh, if I could only find her, the Juliet, the Ophelia for whom my heart is searching!’ […] she thought to herself: ‘My God! ... Juliet, Ophelia ... there’s no doubt, he means me ... And he still loves me as before …’” Michael Gielen conducts the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Wiener Singakademie with Herbert Lippert and Geert Smits as highly acclaimed soloists and Joachim Bissmeier as narrator in an absorbing live capture that took place on 7 Dec 2000 at the Vienna Concert Hall. © Orfeo
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Opera - Released March 5, 2021 | Orfeo

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This version of the three act Leonore of 1805 was recorded during a concert performance in the Grand Hall of the Vienna Musikverein on 14 December 1970. Starring as Fidelio/Leonore and Florestan were Gwyneth Jones and James King, who were incomparable in these roles at the time. The rest of the cast also include outstanding singers of the age, above all Theo Adam as Pizarro, Gerd Nienstedt as Rocco, Rotraud Hansmann as Marzelline, Werner Hollweg as Jaquino and Eberhard Waechter as Don Fernando. At the beginning, there is the Leonore Overture No. 2, thrillingly performed by the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra under the Baton of Carl Melles. © Orfeo
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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released March 5, 2021 | Orfeo

Known as "St Cecilia Mass", Haydn’s fifth Missa is the longest and most complex setting of the Latin Mass text. Rich in elaborate contrapuntal interweaving and with a duration of more than one hour, it reveals Haydn the opera composer. The present recording of a concert, performed in 1982 in the Ottobeuren Basilica with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir under the baton of Rafael Kubelik, is still considered a reference recording of the work. Niccolò Jommelli’s Mass in D major and his Te Deum were both written during his time at Charles Eugene’s Württemberg court, where he is said to have held the highest paid musician post in Europe. The Württemberg court loved French music and at the same time the virtuoso Mannheim school. These, together with Jommelli’s Italian roots, also shaped the composer’s stylistically diverse sacred oeuvre. The Te Deum with a brief length of not even a quarter of an hour, was frequently played even up until the early 19th century. © Orfeo
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Opera - Released February 5, 2021 | Orfeo

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This live recording of Ariadne auf Naxos in October 2014 took place not only at the site of the opera premiere of the version of the opera that we are best familiar with these days, but it also testifies Christian Thielemann’s first conducting engagement of a scenic performance of a Strauss opera at the opera house on the Ring. The cast includes Soile Isokoski as Ariadne, Johan Botha – in one of his latest performances before his untimely death – as Bachus, Daniela Fally as Zerbinetta, Sophie Koch as the composer, Jochen Schmeckenbecher as the music teacher and Peter Matic as the dancing master. Many attendees of the premiere of Strauss‘ first version of Ariadne - which was intended to succeed Moliere’s Le Bourgeois gentilhomme and for this reason was six hours long – felt that they had just been part of a first-rate funeral. It had become obvious that this third cooperational work with Hugo von Hofmannsthal needed some restructuring. As a consequence, the Moliere piece was replaced with the Prologue, and premiered four years later on 4 October 1916 at Vienna’s Court Opera (today’s State Opera). In March 2021, Ariadne returns to the Vienna State Opera’s playing schedule. © Orfeo
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Opera - Released February 5, 2021 | Orfeo

On the dark side of fame awaits the slide into obscurity. That’s certainly true for a number of operas that, while popular and highly lucrative during their composers‘ lifetime, soon followed their creators into the shadowy realm of oblivion. Operas, for example, that only ever get mentioned in connection with some much more famous sibling. Giuseppe Gazzaniga’s Don Giovanni – premiered half a year before Mozart’s masterpiece – is such an example, as is Ruggero Leoncavallo’s La Bohème and George Bizet’s Djamileh, widely considered the predecessor of Carmen. Other operas just do not stand out among other works by a composer – Jules Massenet’s operas for example are hardly a footnote of music history, his opera Therese, a thoroughly forgotten work, however, is. Two examples for works that are scarcely performed or even known outside of what is now the Czech Republic are also included in this collection of "Opera Rarities" on Orfeo: Dvorak’s last opera Armida and Zdenek Fibich’s Šárka. © Orfeo
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Classical - Released February 5, 2021 | Orfeo

Mahler’s cantata Das klagende Lied today constitutes a veritable rarity in concert programmes – in an age that without contradiction recognizes Mahler as one oft he most eminent milestones in the music history of the late 19th and early 20th century. Based on a horror tale written by Mahler himself, this large-scale, vocal symphonic work forms the beginning of Mahler’s more familiar oeuvre. Mahler, at the age of only 20, submitted the score for the Beethoven Prize at the Society of the Friends of Music in Vienna. He did not receive this prize, however, and subsequently made several revisions. It was finally premiered by the composer in Vienna on 17 February 1901 only. The "mixed version" (also employed for this recording) consisting of the original first movement and the revised version of the other two parts, became customary in the course of the great Mahler Renaissance in the 1960s. The presented live capture with the 2019 deceased Michael Gielen – like Mahler not only a conductor but also a composer – with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra was taken in June 1990 in the Konzerthaus Vienna. © Orfeo
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Opera - Released December 4, 2020 | Orfeo

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Classical - Released October 2, 2020 | Orfeo

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