Albums

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Solo Piano - Released September 28, 2018 | ARTALINNA

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica
Considered as one of the most inspired pianists of his generation, Severin von Eckardstein explores three major cycles of French music from the 1900s, associating Claude Debussy’s two revolutionary books Images (1904-1907) and Gabriel Dupont’s La Maison dans les dunes (1907-1909) as part of this debut album under the Artalinna label: this suite of 10 pieces with memorable atmospheres filled with luminous colours and heady melodies will stand out for many as a musical revelation! © Artalinna
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Concertos - Released September 10, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - Special Soundchecks - Hi-Res Audio
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Keyboard Concertos - Released September 7, 2018 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
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Full Operas - Released June 29, 2018 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Full Operas - Released June 22, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - Qobuzissime
Why yes, it is still possible to discover Bernstein scores, or in this case the chamber version of A Quiet Place, adapted by Garth Edwin Sunderland, conducted and recorded for the first time by Kent Nagano, at the Montreal Symphony House. The final stage score by the American composer, first performed at the Houston Grand Opera in 1983, it was revisited by the librettist Stephen Wadsworth, and the composer who added several fragments from the one-act piece Trouble in Tahiti, from 1951; this addition would see two new performances (the Scala in Milan, and Washington). Another draft – this one definitive – was performed at the Vienna Opera House, conducted by the composer, in 1986. Fascinating in more ways than one, rather like a modern-day Intermezzo by Strauss, the work depicts American society by way of an existential crisis faced, first by one couple, (Trouble in Tahiti) and then by one family. Bernstein borrowed from Mahler for the structure, with a final movement whose "grave nobility" recalled the final movements of the Third and NinthSymphonies by his much-admired forebear. As is often the case with this composer, Bernstein's mix of styles (jazz, chorale, Broadway, Mahler, Berg, Britten, Copland…) provides an explosive cocktail, which has about it more of a musical conversation than grand opera – and, paradoxically, that's what makes this work so unique... And so charming. This is well worth a re-discovery, this time under the baton of Bernstein's faithful former pupil, Kent Nagano, at the head of top-flight solo singers, who point the way to that "quiet place", where "love will teach us harmony and grace". © Franck Mallet/Qobuz
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Classical - Released June 15, 2018 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
Of the three composers on this album, the Estonian Jaan Rääts is surely less well-known to Western European audiences than Arvo Pärt or Henryk Górecki – even though the latter is mainly famous for a single work, the monumental Third Symphony which is far from representing the majority of his output. That said, this, Lerchenmusik – a pun, as "Lerche" is not only the German for skylark, but also the name of the dedicatee – has plenty in common with the famous symphony: a consistently slow tempo, in fact very, very slow; long, breathtaking, sombre chords; and a very substantial theme. The work for clarinet, cello and piano was written in 1985 in a similar vein: perhaps Górecki had grasped what his audiences liked about his language, at least in terms of symphonies: that is, the incantatory, quasi-religious quality. So why disappoint his public? Pärt, for his part, contributes the Mozart-Adagio in memory of Oleg Kagan, in a first version for violin, cello and piano: the revision was made specifically for the musicians on this recording. The composer took a slow movement from the Mozart and put it through several harmonic and thematic metamorphoses. Finally, the Kaleidoskoopilised etüüdid by Jaan Rääts are presented here as a discographic world-first. Their "kaleidoscopic" aspect is created by juxtaposing short thematic, rhythmic, or instrumental cells, like so many minimalist fragments, all jumbled together: just like the effect of looking through a kaleidoscope. © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released June 8, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica
This is not the place for yet another disquisition on the widespread baroque practice of transcribing works: Bach was no stranger to it himself, to say nothing of Handel, who plagiarised himself over and over; and this album gives us the Cantor transcribing the Cantor. In this instance we are looking at the Fifth Suite in C Minor for cello, which he re-wrote for the lute. Taking his lead from the composer, lutist Thomas Dunford has done the same to the First Suite for cello, and revised it for his instrument. Obviously, the music seems renewed, elucidated in many different ways: the styles, the reverberations, the harmonies, the counterpoints all develop differently, but we are still hearing original Bach: it's just that its richness is distributed differently in our ears. Dunford offers us a generous "B-side" in the form of a transcription of the Chaconne taken from the Suite for Solo Violin in D Minor, another superb exercise in reconsidering balances while respecting the letter of the music. It remains astounding what one can do with Bach, without ever betraying the spirit of his works. © SM/Qobuz
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Solo Piano - Released June 1, 2018 | Nimbus Alliance

Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Solo Piano - Released May 25, 2018 | Le Palais des Dégustateurs

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Chamber Music - Released May 18, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
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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Full Operas - Released May 11, 2018 | Ediciones Singulares

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 3F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica
We'll admit: this Reine de Chypre by Fromental Halévy is probably not the unfairly-overlooked work of commanding genius for which the lyrical world has been waiting for fifty years… But it would still be a shame to miss it, especially when performed by such a line-up, with Véronique Gens, Cyrille Dubois and Etienne Dupuis at the top of the bill. And after all, the score is full of vocal marvels and very original ensembles; but it is rather in the orchestration – which is not much more adventurous than that of any other piece of Italian bel canto of the era – that Halévy has taken it easy. The melodic richness was pointed out in an article in the Revue et gazette musicale in April 1842: "In the Reine de Chypre, Halévy's new style is on display with more dash, and more success. I have had occasion to point out the preconditions, as I see them, of the production of a good opera, by pointing out the obstacles which stand in the way of meeting these conditions fully and in good time, whether by the poet or the composer. When these conditions are met, it is an event of great importance for the world of art. Now, in the present case, circumstances have conspired in the performance of a work which, as even the most exacting critic must admit, possesses all the qualities which constitute a good opera. (…) The composer has put all the enchantment of his art into the duet that breathes the sentiments that enrapture them. The dark cloth on which these two charming figures are drawn shows through even in those songs which are so sparkling and alive with happiness, like a sinister cloud, and lends them a particular character of melancholy intrigue. There is no equal, in nobility or in grace, of the magnificent melody of the final part of this duet." The article continues in this vein. The byline? One Richard Wagner… © SM/Qobuz
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Full Operas - Released May 2, 2018 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Record of the Month - Diapason d'or / Arte - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica
The story of the Pêcheurs de perles [Pearl Fishers] by Bizet is nothing short of torturous: after its first outing in 1863, the score – whose manuscript is now in private hands and no longer available, alas – fell into obscurity, and was only returned to its rightful place in the sun after the composer's death, once Carmen had made his name. Alas – a thousand times, alas – many different theatre directors took themselves for great geniuses and made little amendments to the work, cutting here, adding there, changing bits up to and including the end. Until the 1960s, this calamitously cack-handed version was the one that was performed – this libretto looks a little flat, why not add a few mistakes? – until musicologists stumbled across the original documents, in particular the cut-down version by Bizet himself, as well as the "conductor's score" of the time, which contained many notes about orchestration. This version, put together in 2014 by Hugh MacDonald, is sung by the flower of great French lyrical music – Julie Fuchs, Florian Sempey, Cyrille Dubois and Luc Bertin-Hugault – and returns as closely as possible to the original version of the work, so that the listener will encounter a number of big surprises, and good surprises too: additional numbers, several melodic and dramatic developments: almost a whole new score. © SM/Qobuz
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Quartets - Released April 20, 2018 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
On the occasion of the bicentenary of Charles Gounod’s birth, this first complete string quartet (including two unpublished ones) on period instruments reveals an unknown part of his production, dominated by vocal music. Composer of the very end of the 19th century, Gounod and his five quartets are the worthy heir of the Viennese classicism tradition. The lyrical accents of the Quartet in G minor or the airy lightness of the Scherzo of the Petit Quatuor evoke nothing less than the names of Schubert and Mendelssohn. The musicians of the Quatuor Cambini-Paris (Julien Chauvin, Karine Crocquenoy, Pierre-Éric Nimylowycz and Atsushi Sakaï) gracefully reproduce these pages, full of gravity and sweetness. © Aparté/Little Tribeca
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released March 16, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
Mass by Bernstein, first performed in 1971, defies classification. It is not really a mass in the strict sense, but more of a kind of deconstruction of a traditional mass; after all, the full title is MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers and the theme resembles a divine service which turns sour before finally discovering universal peace. At the outset, the world seems to be at one, but then "street musicians" begin questioning the need for, or even the very existence of, a god. Cacophony reigns until the cataclysmic elevation of the host, when finally peace breaks out, when the Celebrant brings everyone together around the holy spirit, before intoning a final "go in peace". Bernstein's score brings together all the myriad elements of 20th century music: jazz, blues, rock, Broadway, expressionism, dodecaphonism, modernism with a hint of Britten, street music, fanfares, classical song mixed with rock and jazz voices and Gospel recitations: a veritable Tower of Babel which is hard even to list in a single breath. But Yannick Nézet-Séguin can be trusted to knit all these disparate elements together. Note also that this is a live concert recording, with a breathtaking spatial distribution. Putting history aside, the FBI – never one to miss out on a chance to look ridiculous – decided that Mass was pacifist, anti-establishment propaganda and begged Nixon to boycott its opening night. After all, the work had been commissioned by Jackie Kennedy for the inauguration of the Washington Kennedy Center for the Arts, when America was in the middle of its Vietnamese quagmire...© SM/Qobuz
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Duets - Released March 16, 2018 | Le Palais des Dégustateurs

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Solo Piano - Released March 9, 2018 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Opera Extracts - Released February 23, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diamant d'Opéra Magazine - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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
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Full Operas - Released February 9, 2018 | Cypres

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
Nineteen musicians in the pit, three on stage; resolutely tonal music in a straight line of succession running from Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Martinů, Weill; French lyrics more declaimed than sung - by, happily, Francophone singer-actors led by Stéphane Degout, Vincent Le Texier, Yann Beuron and Chloé Briot: this is the framework that Philippe Boesmans chose for his latest opera Pinocchio, recorded live at La Monnaie in Brussels. The script is the work of Joël Pommerat, and it aims for an hour and fifteen of the quasi-melodrama based on the style which was in vogue in the 19th century in which to showcase the baffling musical richness of Collodi's work: and with immense success, it must be said. Pommerat is not necessarily looking to write a purely lyrical Pinocchio, but rather to develop an opera within an opera, using Brecht's favoured method of defamiliarisation, a sort of play-within-a-play, where "real" events alternate with narrative description of what's happening or about to happen. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, a major work for the contemporary scene, a worthy 21st-century successor to the Magic Flute and its fantasy world, immersive, and full of illusions, prisms and invitations to new readings: in short, a masterpiece. And it can hardly come as a surprise that the subject hasn't drawn the attention of more composers since it first appeared in 1881, as only cinema and television have really taken it seriously (and Disneyesque animations, heaping on the sugar), with the exception of Jonathan Dove's unique 2007 work, The Adventures of Pinocchio © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released February 9, 2018 | Sony Classical

Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Solo Piano - Released February 9, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Record of the Month - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica
Oh no, no, no: this is absolutely not a re-release of one of the many recordings which Murray Perahia made of Beethoven over the decades. This here is something completely new, made in 2016 and 2017, of two radically contrasting sonatas: the Fourteenth of 1801, which Rellstab nicknamed "Clair de lune" in 1832, while Beethoven merely dubbed it Quasi una fantasia, and the Twenty Ninth of 1819, Große Sonate für das Hammerklavier, written after several barren years. Perhaps, consciously or not, Perahia has coupled two works, one "before" and the other "after" - after all, he himself has known his fair share of fallow years, following a hand injury which removed him from the stage from 1990 to 2005. Whether or not it's true, it's certainly tempting to imagine. Either way, like Beethoven, Perahia made a storming return, as shown in this recent performance, in which vigour alternates with moments of intense introspection, always impeccably phrased and articulated, and deeply musical. Clearly all those years in which he concentrated almost exclusively on the works of Bach as a training regime while he waited for recovery seem to have in fact been immensely fruitful. © SM/Qobuz