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Le clavecin mythologique

Anne Marie Dragosits

Classical - Released January 25, 2019 | L'Encelade

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The mythological world of antiquity has fascinated us for millennia without pause, and its densely woven tales of gods, goddesses, legendary creatures and mortals continues to entreat us to this day. It is ultimately for the reader to decide whether these myths provide explanations for the incomprehensible, offer allegories of our human experience, or are simply just fascinating tales. This recording gathers baroque program music together in which each work recounts a tale from the world of mythology. The broad sonic spectrum able to be elicited from the marvelous harpsichord made by Pascal Taskin is commensurate with the varied abundance of mythological creations depicted in this program’s collection. Form, musical structure and narrative style are also multifaceted herein, from works that best seem to resemble landscape portraits to dramatic opera scenes in miniature. The range of composers included begins nearly at the inception of French harpsichord artistry and ends near its swansong: from d’Anglebert’s arrangements of Jean-Baptiste Lully’s compositions (the latter is credited with having “discovered” French baroque music), to towering harpsichord greats such as François Couperin and Jean-Philippe Rameau, further still with the singer, opera composer and keyboard virtuoso Pancrace Royer, and ending with Jacques Duphly. The latter’s music represents a final culmination before the abrupt break made by the French Revolution; indeed, Duphly’s death on the day after the storming of the Bastille tragically emblemizes the loss of significance of the harpsichord, which would become recognized as a symbol of the Ancien Regime. […] With their special sound characteristics, historical instruments can approach an almost mystical, even mythical aura. The Taskin harpsichord in Hamburg is an unbelievably colorful and beautifully sounding example; it is in every regard a unique instrument that I found richly rewarding as a player. When deciding to record upon such an instrument, one accepts small technical or mechanical imperfections as a precondition. © Anne Marie Dragosits/L'Encelade
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Structures of Light & Spruce

Curious Chamber Players

Chamber Music - Released September 7, 2018 | NEOS Music

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Hunter

Anna Calvi

Alternative & Indie - Released August 31, 2018 | Domino Recording Co

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Anna Calvi can trumpet that the shy and sick child has become a sexual lioness; the score of her third album is in no way radical in its form. Still, her transformation is rather powerful as she described on social media when she came out as queer.In 2011, she released a stunning first eponymous album, where she revealed herself as much more than yet another PJ Harvey… Gifted with a mysterious organ a-la Siouxsie, armed with a 50s-sounding guitar in the vein of Duane Eddy and productions worthy of improbable Morricone/Badalamenti soundtracks, the British artist released One Breath two years later, an astounding second album, slightly evolving her singular art. Calvi leaned on dreamlike curves bordering on gothic, but also dared explore dirty and powerful sounds. With complete mastery over the writing, interpretation, arrangements and singing, she reasserted how much of a well-rounded artist she was. Something she does once again with Hunter and its very symbolic title. Supported by Nick Launay for the production (Nick Cave), Adrian Utley from Portishead on the keyboards and the Bad Seeds’ Martyn Casey on the bass, she strings together ten stunning tracks and reaches sublime heights by refining them to the extreme like on her ghostly ballad Away. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Antonio Salieri : Les Horaces

Christophe Rousset

Full Operas - Released August 31, 2018 | Aparté

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Ever since Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus and the subsequent film by Milos Forman, the operas of Mozart's rival Antonio Salieri have enjoyed a revival: historians determined that not only did Salieri not poison Mozart, he admired him, and Mozart at least respected the older Italian. Indeed, Les Horaces (1786) represents several accomplishments that were not on Mozart's résumé: it is a full-scale French opera, and its recitatives are orchestrally accompanied and contribute elegantly to the action. Berlioz, always an astute critic, numbered himself among the admirers of Salieri's French operas of the 1780s; this one was not as successful as the others, but that could have been due to any number of factors. The plot deals with a woman, Camille, whose romantic life is caught between factions in a war in early Roman times, and Rousset's live reading here benefits from a strong soprano lead, Dutch singer and French Baroque specialist Judith van Wanroij. Other singers likewise step up, but the real credit goes to Rousset, who gets the strengths of Salieri's score: the grand intermèdes, and the exciting finale of Act 1, where the joining-together of action and music is in Mozart's league even if the tunes are not. Also praiseworthy is the engineering work of the curiously named Little Tribeca team, who obtain the best possible sound from none other than Versailles. Highly recommended to those who have dismissed Salieri: this is a sympathetic and enthusiastic performance of his music. © TiVo
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Juon, Tchaikovsky: Piano Trios

Boulanger Trio

Classical - Released August 31, 2018 | CAvi-music

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Debussy: Harmonie du soir, mélodies & songs

Alain Planès

Classical - Released August 24, 2018 | harmonia mundi

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This fine album centred on Debussy, entitled, Harmonie du soir (it is now the fashion to give classical releases titles of their own) presents a bouquet of melodies mostly dedicated to the nocturnes of which Debussy was so fond. It has a romantic opening, with the Nocturnes by John Field, and then by Chopin and Fauré. The programme is a delight for the ears , with a certain, rather precious, "je ne sais quoi" alongside the consummate articulation and diction offered by both Sophie Karthäuser and Stéphane Degout, two artists at the dazzling height of their maturity. The evocative, tender, liquid piano of both Alan Planès and Eugène Asti also provides an air of great expansiveness. The melodies emerge very subtly, helped along by performers who possess a deep knowledge of the unique world of French mélodie which Debussy renewed with the novelty of his harmonies and an often-demanding choice of lyrics, from Baudelaire or Mallarmé. This is yet another fantastic contribution from the harmonia mundi team to the year of Debussy. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Bernstein : Symphony No. 2 "The Age of Anxiety"

Krystian Zimerman

Symphonies - Released August 24, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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The Second Symphony by Leonard Bernstein, The Age of Anxiety, based on a poem of the same name by W. H. Auden, is a work of the composer-conductor's relative youth, dating from 1948-1949, when he was just turning thirty. The symphony is presented as a series of variations, but not variations around an initial theme. No: each variation takes on elements of the previous variation, varies in turn, and so on. It brings to mind an unbroken metamorphosis. As one might imagine, Bernstein mixes classical symphonic elements with jazz, in particular in the solo piano passage – tackled here by Krystian Zimerman, who had the good fortune to perform with Bernstein several times. In its own way, it is a kind of homage to the centenary of the composer's birth: as Zimerman mentions in the liner notes, Bernstein asked him if he wanted to play this symphony with him for his hundredth birthday. And he almost keeps the promise, although the orchestra is the Berlin Philharmonic, under Sir Simon Rattle. © SM/Qobuz
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GUNDERMANN - Die Musik zum Film

Alexander Scheer und Band

Film Soundtracks - Released August 24, 2018 | Buschfunk

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Hands on the Puzzle

Henrik Freischlader Band

R&B - Released August 24, 2018 | Cable Car Records

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Bernstein: Symphony No. 2 "The Age of Anxiety"

Krystian Zimerman

Classical - Released August 24, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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The Second Symphony by Leonard Bernstein, The Age of Anxiety, based on a poem of the same name by W. H. Auden, is a work of the composer-conductor's relative youth, dating from 1948-1949, when he was just turning thirty. The symphony is presented as a series of variations, but not variations around an initial theme. No: each variation takes on elements of the previous variation, varies in turn, and so on. It brings to mind an unbroken metamorphosis. As one might imagine, Bernstein mixes classical symphonic elements with jazz, in particular in the solo piano passage – tackled here by Krystian Zimerman, who had the good fortune to perform with Bernstein several times. In its own way, it is a kind of homage to the centenary of the composer's birth: as Zimerman mentions in the liner notes, Bernstein asked him if he wanted to play this symphony with him for his hundredth birthday. And he almost keeps the promise, although the orchestra is the Berlin Philharmonic, under Sir Simon Rattle. © SM/Qobuz
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Baby's Party

Günter Baby Sommer

Jazz - Released August 17, 2018 | Intakt Records

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In celebration of his seventy-fifth birthday, acclaimed German percussionist Günter Baby Sommer paired with trumpeter Till Brönner for this adventurous and surprisingly cohesive duo album, 2018's Baby's Party. At face value, Sommer and Brönner may seem like an odd match. A longtime exponent of creative avant-garde jazz and free improvisation, Sommer has played with such highly regarded luminaries as Wadada Leo Smith, Peter Brötzmann, and Cecil Taylor. Conversely, Brönner is one of the most recognizable German instrumentalists, whose albums often straddle the line between straight-ahead, and smooth jazz. That said, Brönner is also an immensely gifted soloist, as indebted to the harmonically rich post-bop of Woody Shaw as the warm lyricism of Miles Davis. Here, both ends of the trumpeter's influences are redolent as he joins Sommer on a set of original (and one assumes largely improvised) songs as well as imaginative renditions of the standards "Danny Boy" and Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood." What's particularly compelling about the album is just how relaxed and beautifully counterbalanced the duo's performances are, shifting from emotive melodicism one minute to atonal expressiveness the next. While the absence of a chordal instruments means there is an abundance of space to fill, Sommer's inventive percussion choices, including trap set, drums, and what sound like sundry gongs, shakers, metal shards, woodblocks, and bells, more than makes up for the lack of piano or bass. Similarly, Brönner never sounds anything less than commanding, able to convey a song's harmonic and melodic structure just as he leaps off into the oblivion with breathy growls, puckered chirps, and long, sanguine sighs. Baby's Party is an organic, highly engaging conversation. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Victoria Hanna: Victoria Hanna

Victoria Hanna

World - Released June 29, 2018 | Greedy for Best Music

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Qualm

Helena Hauff

Electronic - Released August 3, 2018 | Ninja Tune

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John Adams: Doctor Atomic

John Adams

Full Operas - Released June 29, 2018 | Nonesuch

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Audiences have their own favorites among the operas of John Adams, but Doctor Atomic (2005) has the advantage of being inarguably suited in its subject matter to the dimensions of grand opera: it takes for its topic the detonation of the first atomic bomb, with its first act occurring a month before the event and the second just before the successful test in New Mexico. The libretto by Peter Sellars, largely based on declassified documents, has been criticized as too choppy, but to these ears its shifts are what makes the work: it called forth an extraordinarily varied score from Adams. The music includes settings of poetry by Baudelaire, Donne, and Muriel Rukeyser, as well as the Hindu Bhagavad Gita and a traditional Tewa Native American song. Adams responded with a score that encompasses all these and never interrupts the sense of gathering doom the listener feels. Female characters -- scientist Robert Oppenheimer's wife, Kitty, and Pasqualita, a Tewa maid -- are introduced, and they only increase the variety. The work has been recorded, but this version conducted by Adams may be regarded as definitive. It is drawn mostly on a live concert performance in London that clearly made a strong connection with the audience. Gerald Finley is a gripping Oppenheimer, and all the singers put the text across immediately. You might think that British singers would be an impediment in text that often talks about American national aspirations, but it's not so: what has been called the transatlantic theatrical accent is close to the one singers of both nationalities tend to use, and after a brief suspension of disbelief you won't even think about it. Adams gets from the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers an intense, overwrought, kaleidoscopic performance that is just what the music ordered, and Nonesuch patches together the several performances here expertly. Bravo. © TiVo

Debussy : Préludes du 2e Livre, La Mer

Alexander Melnikov

Solo Piano - Released June 29, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
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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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John Adams: Doctor Atomic

BBC Symphony Orchestra

Classical - Released June 29, 2018 | Nonesuch

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Audiences have their own favorites among the operas of John Adams, but Doctor Atomic (2005) has the advantage of being inarguably suited in its subject matter to the dimensions of grand opera: it takes for its topic the detonation of the first atomic bomb, with its first act occurring a month before the event and the second just before the successful test in New Mexico. The libretto by Peter Sellars, largely based on declassified documents, has been criticized as too choppy, but to these ears its shifts are what makes the work: it called forth an extraordinarily varied score from Adams. The music includes settings of poetry by Baudelaire, Donne, and Muriel Rukeyser, as well as the Hindu Bhagavad Gita and a traditional Tewa Native American song. Adams responded with a score that encompasses all these and never interrupts the sense of gathering doom the listener feels. Female characters -- scientist Robert Oppenheimer's wife, Kitty, and Pasqualita, a Tewa maid -- are introduced, and they only increase the variety. The work has been recorded, but this version conducted by Adams may be regarded as definitive. It is drawn mostly on a live concert performance in London that clearly made a strong connection with the audience. Gerald Finley is a gripping Oppenheimer, and all the singers put the text across immediately. You might think that British singers would be an impediment in text that often talks about American national aspirations, but it's not so: what has been called the transatlantic theatrical accent is close to the one singers of both nationalities tend to use, and after a brief suspension of disbelief you won't even think about it. Adams gets from the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers an intense, overwrought, kaleidoscopic performance that is just what the music ordered, and Nonesuch patches together the several performances here expertly. Bravo. © TiVo
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Under the Rose Tree. Tunes from the Greek Musical Traditions

Sokratis Sinopoulos

World - Released May 18, 2018 | Saphrane

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French Sonatas for Harpsichord and Violin

Johannes Pramsohler

Classical - Released February 23, 2018 | Audax Records

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In 18th Century France, a number of new composers developed "pure music" in a broader sense, and not just music for human voice, with religious works on the one hand and lyrical works on the other. These new works were first and foremost intended for great enthusiasts, in particular for salon harpsichord players. Hence the title "pieces for harpsichord with violin accompaniment", because, strictly speaking, one could do away with the violin part, which in any case doesn't represent a virtuoso level of difficulty. The result, of course, is that the harpsichord is not a simple continuo but beautifully written as harpsichord music, much closer to a virtuoso piece - but an amateur harpsichordist of middling ability will always be able to manage, where as an amateur violinist of an equivalent level would only be able to produce the most frightful screeches from their instrument! All the composers here were born between 1705 and 1720, and died between 1770 and 1799 – some long after Mozart. When in 1740 he published his Pièces de clavecin en sonates avec accompagnement de violon, Mondonville was a forerunner – even Rameau's Pièces de clavecin en concert dates from the following year, even though Rameau was Mondonville's senior by some years. In 1742, Corrette followed suit with his own Sonates pour le clavecin avec accompagnement de violon; the following year, Clément would publish his Sonates en trio pour un clavecin et un violon – the violin part is clearly more developed here than it was in his predecessors' works. In 1745, Guillemain raised the bar a fair way with Pièces de clavecin avec accompagnement de violon in which the violin, in a rather Italian style, became indispensable and is far from being a mere accompaniment (an editor's ploy to make the score more attractive to amateurs?) while the harpsichord part becomes almost virtuoso. In 1747, it was Marchand's turn with his Pièces de clavecin avec accompagnement de violon, hautbois, violoncelle ou viole : the composer is leaving no stone unturned! In 1748, Balbastre stepped up to the chamber music plate, and the fashion was solidly anchored. The last name on our list is Duphly, whose Troisième livre de clavecin offered the option of adding a violin part, probably aimed at amateurs of a wide range of abilities. Harpsichordist Philippe Grisvard is no stranger to the Poème Harmonique, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Nouveaux Caractères and a long list of other great baroque and classical ensembles from across the globe; while violinist Johannes Pramsohler founded the Diderot Ensemble in 2008, and exercises his talents as the solo violinist of the King’s Consort, the Concert d’Astrée and the baroque ensemble Concerto Melante which came from d'Astrée. © SM/Qobuz
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The Red Notes

Hieroglyphic Being

Electronic - Released February 23, 2018 | Soul Jazz Records

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The Red Notes is the third Soul Jazz-issued full-length by Chicago experimental house producer Jamal Moss, and compared to the first two (Hieroglyphic Being's The Acid Documents and Africans with Mainframes' K.M.T.), this one isn't nearly as noisy, pounding, or acid-drenched. It's relatively mellow, with chiming synth tones and beats that stamp or click rather than pound. Moss serves as a one-man ensemble, overdubbing numerous acoustic and electronic instruments ranging from flute and alto sax to several analog synthesizers. The liner notes include a long list of inspirations, mainly focusing on jazz (Sun Ra, Herbie Hancock), Chicago house (Larry Heard, Adonis), and kosmische (Popol Vuh, Moebius) artists, and the lengthy, free-flowing tracks embody all of those genres. They're loose, spacy, and improvisatory, but they still function as dance music. Similar to the 2016 release The Disco's of Imhotep, this album represents some of Moss' warmer, more accessible work. That album was far more concise, however, packing everything into 33 minutes, while this one sprawls out to over an hour. Opener "Youth Brainwashing and the Extremist Cults" mixes church organs with fidgeting synths and shuffling cymbals, while the calmly haunting "The Melody Lingers" and kick drum-less "Awake and Energize" are abstract re-imaginings of deep house. The fast, snappy "Video Jazz" is essentially a more euphoric variation on Lil Louis' "The Original Video Clash," and easily one of the album's most inspiring tracks. The 14-minute "The Red Notes [Original]" is the album's skybound centerpiece, and its bright, sparkling textures smooth out the drums and keyboard solos, which are actually quite complex. "The Emotional Listener" is a bit more tense, with a slight industrial grittiness underpinning house pianos and frenetic bongos. "The Tone Bather" is the album's most gleefully twisted track, with radioactive synths squirming all over a sideways thud and reverb-heavy pianos. As with nearly all of his releases, Moss displays a deep reverence for his acknowledged influences, but his freewheeling excursions could've only originated from his singular, brilliant mind. © Paul Simpson /TiVo
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The Promise of Strangers

The Fugitives

Rock - Released January 26, 2018 | Westpark Music

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