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François Couperin - Colin de Blamont : Concert chez la Reine

Les Ombres

Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released August 25, 2010 | Ambronay

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Le Choix de France Musique
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Compositrices du Seicento

Maria Cristina Kiehr

Sacred Vocal Music - Released August 25, 2010 | Ambronay

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Judas Maccabaeus

Leonardo García Alarcón

Sacred Oratorios - Released March 23, 2010 | Ambronay

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For English-speaking audiences who don't mind their Handel sung by sometimes heavily accented non-native speakers, this version of Judas Maccabaeus is hard to beat. Argentinean conductor Leonardo García Alarcón leads the exemplary ensembles Choeur de Chambre de Namur and Les Agrémens in an exceptionally spirited account of the score that effectively erases any taint of its reputation as starchy favorite of amateur Victorian choral societies. His rhythms are crisp and his tempos impetuous, as is appropriate for the martial subject matter, but his phrasing is also gorgeously shapely and the lyrical numbers are rendered with sumptuous sensuality and flexibility. The brilliance of the performance is amplified by the very resonant and richly ample sound quality, which allows the voices, both choral and solos, to be heard to their best advantage, bright yet warm, with a ringing, exhilarating clarity. The soloists are absolutely first-rate. As Simon, Argentinean baritone Alejandro Meerapfel has the most pronounced accent, but the suppleness and discipline of his singing, as well as his expertise in the conventions of Baroque style, are an incentive to overlook his oddly placed vowels. Accent is somewhat less an issue with Japanese tenor Makoto Sakurada, whose gleaming, nuanced, heroic voice is a marvel in the title role. Argentinean singers soprano Maria Soledad de la Rosa and mezzo-soprano Mariana Rewerski have glorious, soaring voices that are beautifully matched, and their transporting duets are among the high points of the performance. These are all artists to watch out for. The live recording picks up some ancillary noises, particularly surprisingly loud page turns, but that seems like a minor quibble given the quality of the otherwise extraordinarily engaging performance. Highly recommended.© TiVo
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Virtuosissima Compositrice

Leonardo García Alarcón

Music by vocal ensembles - Released September 22, 2009 | Ambronay

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording
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L'art du violon seul dans l'Allemagne baroque

Mira Glodeanu

Chamber Music - Released November 19, 2009 | Ambronay

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Ténèbres du Premier Jour (François Couperin - Marc-Antoine Charpentier - Michel Lambert)

Emmanuel Mandrin

Sacred Vocal Music - Released April 9, 2009 | Ambronay

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Clavier Sonaten mit Obligater Violine

Mira Glodeanu

Classical - Released January 1, 2006 | Ambronay

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Serpentes ignei in deserto

Jérôme Correas

Classical - Released January 1, 2006 | Ambronay

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Sonates : Una nuova inventione per Maria Barbara

Aline Zylberajch

Classical - Released October 13, 2005 | Ambronay

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Antonio Vivaldi : Vespro a San Marco

Leonardo García Alarcón

Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released April 28, 2010 | Ambronay

Hi-Res Booklets Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
The title of the two-disc album, Vivaldi: Vespro a San Marco, implies that the composer wrote a set of pieces comparable to Monteverdi's Vespro della beata Vergine, but the title needs to be interpreted somewhat loosely. The program notes describe the collection of psalms, canticles, motets, and prefatory chants recorded here as an evocation of a service of vespers Vivaldi might have assembled rather than a reconstruction of one he actually ever did. These vespers are distinctly Vivaldian in idiom, but they resemble Monteverdi's in the use of some common texts and in the diversity of musical styles, genres, and performing forces assembled; there is not much of a sense of unity in the traditional sense, but a profusion of delightfully varied musical vignettes, including a cappella chants, solos, ensembles, choruses, and instrumental pieces. The bugaboo of run-of-the-mill Vivaldi performances is most frequently a squared-off regularity that makes the music come across as undifferentiated and blocky. The superlative performances by Leonardo García Alarcón leading Choeur de Chambre de Namur and the chamber orchestra Les Agrémens (also based in Namur) are anything but run-of-the-mill. Alarcón consistently finds the musical individuality of Vivaldi's lines and invests them with unambiguous emotional meaning. He creates elegantly shapely contours even in the most rhythmically severe movements like the fugal counterpoint of "Donec ponam" from the Dixit Dominus, and consistently heightens the music's expressive lyricism. The soloists are also terrific, singing both with distinctiveness in their solos and with a gorgeous blend in the many ensembles. Sopranos Maria Soledad and Mariana Flores and bass Alejandro Meerapfel stand out for their especially sumptuous timbres and the musicality of their interpretations. All the singers and players sound like they are having a wonderful time performing this music and their enthusiasm is infectious. The sound of the live performances is clear, warmly present, and mostly clean except for some page turning and shuffling.© TiVo
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J.S. Bach: Clavichord

András Schiff

Solo Piano - Released January 27, 2023 | ECM New Series

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It took András Schiff over 40 years to acquire his first clavichord, but the long wait was worth it. His love for the harpsichord's ‘little sister’ began in the late 1960s, when Schiff met the English pianist, organist, composer and conductor Georg Malcolm: ‘He showed me how to play Bach's polyphony with my fingers alone, without using the sustain pedal’.Unlike the harpsichord or piano, a note (string) played on the clavichord resonates for as long as the key is held down. As a result, playing this instrument is unique in that you can influence the sound even after a key has been struck, allowing for techniques such as vibrato.Historically, the clavichord was widely used as a practice instrument and a composition aid, and it was often only played in front of small groups. This doesn’t detract from its importance and significance, however, as evidenced by its frequent use by composers such as Bach.András Schiff takes to this intimate, personal instrument to offer recordings which— together with those of Friedrich Gulda or Gustav Leonhardt—constitute one of the rare complete recordings of Bach's keyboard music for clavichord. He performs the Inventions, Sinfonias, Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue BWV 903, among others, with dedication and precision, and he’s not afraid to put his own mark on the music. Schiff tends to be less known for his historical performances, but he astonishes here with an impressive recording in which he remains true to himself and to Bach. © Lena Germann/Qobuz
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Jéliote, haute-contre de Rameau

Reinoud Van Mechelen

Mélodies - Released September 3, 2021 | Alpha Classics

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The haute-contre voice has these days faded from general musicological discussion to such a degree that it doesn’t even get an entry in the big-name music dictionary sitting on this particular critic’s shelf. Yet in the French Baroque and Classical period, from Lully and Rameau to Gluck, this high tenor voice – sitting in the alto range, but unlike the countertenor voice appearing to have been achieved largely without employing falsetto – was the one for which many of the leading heroic and amatory roles were penned, and could perhaps be seen as an important stepping stone towards the tenor voice eventually pinching the lead roles being from countertenors. All of which makes tenor Reinoud Van Mechelen’s “Haute-Contre Trilogy” a fascinating addition to the catalogue. This second volume of the trilogy (following a first devoted to Louis Gaulard Dumesny, for whom Lully created many of his main roles) sees him and his ensemble turn their attentions to Rameau’s favourite singer, Pierre de Jéliote (1713-1797), who made his sung stage debut in 1733 at the Concert Spirituel, before retiring from singing in 1765 to instead join the King’s Orchestra as a violinist and guitarist. Repertoire-wise, there’s all sorts to enjoy. Inevitably, Rameau’s operas feature strongly, with offerings from Les Boréades, Castor et Pollux, Hippolyte et Aricie, Les Fêtes d’Hébé and Platée. However we’ve very much been given the full 360-degree tour of de Jéliote’s landscape, with Dauvergne, Colin de Blamont, Mondonville, Rebel and Francoeur also on the bill. Van Mechelen himself is clear-toned and agile, bringing gentle poetry to the clearly amatory airs; and while it’s a light voice, it’s not without its power when he chooses, and you’ll by turns hear it all across Rebel’s multi-faceted Muses, je viens encor. That particular air equally showcases the sensitive, crisply light and fleet-footed support from A Nocte Temporis, with some especially enjoyable woodwind playing, across both their tutti and chamber-textured moments; and indeed the icing on the programming cake overall are the solo ensemble moments punctuating the album at regular intervals – not least the overture to Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie with which it begins. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Lamento

Fretwork

Chamber Music - Released August 27, 2021 | Signum Records

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Counter-tenor Iestyn Davies and the viol consort Fretwork present a new recording of German works for viol consort and voice drawn from 17th-century, following their critically-praised 2019 album of works by Michael Nyman and Henry Purcell. Featuring performances from organist Silas Wollston and counter-tenor Hugh Cutting, the recital ranges widely over the 17th century – from the early years with three curiously similar sounding friends: Schein, Scheidt and Schütz, to the most significant member of the Bach family before Johann Sebastian, Johann Christoph Bach. From their they travel down North Sea to the foothills of the Alps, including Buxtehude’s predecessor at the Marienkirche in Lübeck – Franz Tunder (whose daughter Buxtehude was to marry) and another north German composer who worked in Copenhagen, Christian Geist. Giovanni Felice Sances is an outlier here: he was born in Rome, but spent the second part of his life working for three successive Emperors in Vienna, where viol playing was still very much in vogue. In 2021, Fretwork celebrates its 35th anniversary. In the past three and a half decades they have explored the core repertory of great English consort music, from Taverner to Purcell, and made classic recordings against which others are judged. In addition to this, Fretwork have become known as pioneers of contemporary music for viols, having commissioned over 40 new works. Iestyn Davies is a British countertenor widely recognised as one of the world’s finest singers celebrated for the beauty and technical dexterity of his voice and intelligent musicianship. © Signum Classics
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Baroque

Nicola Benedetti

Classical - Released July 16, 2021 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Decca Classics is thrilled to announce a new Baroque album from violinist Nicola Benedetti. This is the first album she has released on a period set-up including gut strings, and she is joined by a leading group of freelance baroque musicians, forming the Benedetti Baroque Orchestra - for the very first time. The album features a selection of concerti by Vivaldi plus Geminiani’s incredible arrangement of Corelli’s La Folia, one of the oldest western classical themes which has been arranged by many composers over time, particularly in the baroque era. Geminiani was one of the greatest violinists of the era and Corelli was one of his teachers whilst growing up in Italy. Later when he moved to London, Geminiani reworked a number of Corelli’s works for local audiences including this arrangement of La Folia. © Decca Classics
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"Générations" Senaillé & Leclair : Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord

Théotime Langlois de Swarte

Classical - Released July 16, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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To say that young French baroque violin star Théotime Langlois de Swarte has begun his solo recording career with a bang of prolificity and brilliance is something of an understatement. First, in 2020, we had “The Mad Lover”, a beautifully conceived and executed concept album exploring the 17th century English notion of melancholy via composers such as Henry Purcell and John Eccles. Then at the start of 2021 came Proust, “Le Concert retrouvé”, recreating a 1907 concert at the Paris Ritz programmed and hosted by Marcel Proust. Now here’s “Générations”, an album every bit as fine as its predecessors, with also a couple of key differences. Topmost of these is that, while Langlois de Swarte’s chamber partners for those first two albums were rising stars of his own generation, in the form of lutenist Thomas Dunford for “The Mad Lover” and pianist Tanguy de Williencourt for Proust, his “Générations” partner is fifty years his senior – early music luminary, William Christie, with whose Les Arts Florissants Langlois de Swarte plays in addition to his own period ensemble Le Consort. Then also because this isn’t so much a concept album as one aiming to ignite modern interest in a forgotten star of early eighteenth century French instrumental music, Jean-Baptiste Senaillé (1697-1764), by placing his sonatas alongside those of a famous violinist figure of the generation just above him, Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1730). What both composers have in common is their melding of Italian virtuosity with French music’s characteristic elegance, melodicism and dance allusions. It almost goes without saying that Christie and Langlois de Swarte make for a delectable musical match, but the closeness of the partnership really does shine out. The recording sessions took place in the living room of Christie’s home in the Vendée, giving them both an intimate environment with no time constraints, and the album opens with one of the fruits of that privileged set-up: a lyrically melancholic Gavotte in E minor by Leclair, originally for two violins, which the pair transcribed for harpsichord and violin, Christie adding a second melody line for himself. As for Senaillé, “a minor figure but a great master”, is how Christie himself describes him, and that analysis feels spot on. Take the Sonata in G minor, Op. 1 No. 6 from his Premier Livre de Sonates à violon seul avec la basse continue, published in Paris in 1710, whose opening Largo prelude strikes instantly for its emotional intensity, and for the satiny smoothness with which Langlois de Swarte delivers his violin line’s wide intervallic leaps; and the pair produce something very special as they dig deep into its dark mournfulness. Pleasures of a different shape then come with the concluding Gavotte’s virtuosic violin writing, including ear-grabbing double-stopped passages. Or for a particularly colourful instance of Senaillé taking the Italian style and making it his own, jump to the final Allegro assai of his third book’s Sonata in D major, Op. 3 No. 10 (this one published 1716): a syncopated, stabbing bass drone from the harpsichord to start, onto which the violin dances a rustic folky melody which later incorporates cuckoo call bariolage – a Vivaldian motif in itself, but one that’s here thoroughly reimagined into a French musical style. Essentially, you can hear exactly why all five of Senaillé books of sonatas were reprinted numerous times in his lifetime. Also why, for Langlois de Swarte, the only way is up. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Montigny: Grands Motets

Ensemble Antiphona

Classical - Released June 25, 2021 | Paraty

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"This Valette is one of the most stupendous geniuses we have and his music is stupendous too". This is how the famed Sebastian de Brossard introduces his contemporary composer Joseph Valette de Montigny. Though acknowledged for its qualities, Montigny’s music has very rarely been played. Nor has it ever been recorded. Simply on account of its rarity and the absence of scores, it has remained unpublished. Thanks to this recording on which two great motets are performed, Antiphona Ensemble and its director Rolandas Muleïka are filling a vacuum. These motets are two outstanding pieces in Joseph de Montigny’s catalogue. Musicologist Benoît Michel, who died at a very young age, was the main instigator of this felicitous rediscovery: he would undoubtedly have felt enthusiastic about the release of this recording. This presentation draws to a large extent upon his work. © 2021 Paraty
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Picchi: Complete Harpsichord Music and Other Venetian Gems

Simone Stella

Miscellaneous - Released June 25, 2021 | Brilliant Classics

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The only complete survey available of the keyboard music written by a forward-looking contemporary of Monteverdi. Giovanni Picchi (1572-1643) flourished in Venice, notably as the organist at the Scuola di San Rocco. He became renowned as a composer of both secular and sacred music, attested by his presence in the Nobiltà di dame by Fabrizio Caroso, the most important collection of dance music of the time. A collection of his canzone was published in 1625 and his fame spread to England, where a Toccata for Harpsichord was transcribed within the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (of which Brilliant has recently released the first-ever complete recording). In 1619, Picchi published Intavolatura di balli d’arpicordo, one of the rare collections of music for keyboard moulded on contemporary dance music. The majority of Picchi's dances are composed in pairs. Three of the four Passamezzos are followed by a Saltarello in triple meter. The short dances in duple meter (Ballo alla Polacha, Ballo Ongaro and the Todescha) conclude with either a balletto or saltarello in triple meter. The Padoana ditta la Ongara and the Ongara a un altro modo obviously form a single composition consisting of variations. Other important sources for his keyboard music include collections published in Venice in 1621 and an undated collection of intablatures (transcriptions and elaborations of music by other composers) which is now held in Turin. Together they amount to some of the most brilliant and appealing music for the harpsichord from 17th-century Italy. Picchi’s harmonic language was especially daring, and his flair as a performer is reflected in the style of his writing, which exploits the full range of the instrument. In complement to Picchi’s work, Simone Stella has chosen other jewels from Venetian composers of the time: toccatas, ricercare and canzone by Annibale Padovano, Claudio Merulo, Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli and Vincenzo Bellavere. Bellavere is another neglected figure nowadays, but the Toccata recorded here is a gloriously ornate example of the genre, alternating intricate counterpoint with filigree decoration. Played on the harpsichord by Simone Stella. © Brilliant Classics

Je m'abandonne à vous

Angélique Mauillon

Mélodies - Released June 18, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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Henriette de Coligny, Comtesse de La Suze, was more than just a woman of letters admired in her time, even by the very demanding Boileau. It was as a free woman that she married for love; after the death of her husband, a second one was forced on her, but, still a free woman, she demanded to be ‘de-married’! Surrounded by expert musicians, Marc Mauillon shows us that her précieux poetic universe mixes tenderness with the most unexpected strokes of audacity, so much so that her verse inspired many composers of the Grand Siècle –and after! © harmonia mundi
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Albero : Sonatas para clavicordio I-XV

Mario Raskin

Classical - Released April 9, 2021 | Pierre Verany

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Sebastián de Albero is less well known than his contemporaries José de Nebra, Antonio Soler, the great Farinelli, and, of course, Domenico Scarlatti. Nonetheless, his sonatas are appreciated by many harpsichordists who readily include them in their repertoire alongside those of Scarlatti, Soler, or Seixas. However, his oeuvre, limited owing to his premature death at the age of 34, gives us a glimpse of a musician brimming with originality and creativity. Sebastián de Albero died in 1756, leaving a collection of 30 sonatas, made up of 14 pairs of sonatas in the same key, and two fugues, one in position 15 to mark the end of the first part, which figures precisely in this recording, and the other at the very end to definitively close the cycle. Like Scarlatti’s sonata collections, Sebastián de Albero’s was found in Italy, specifically in Venice’s Marciana Library, surely brought by Farinelli, to whom Queen Maria Barbara had bequeathed her musical library as well as some of her keyboard instruments. It is interesting to pause for a moment on the case of the first two sonatas on this programme, which in fact seem to be related to two sources: first, with Sebastián de Albero at the beginning of his collection (Sonatas 1 and 2), and also in the copy of a collection of sonatas attributed to Scarlatti (Sonatas 11 and 12). This latter collection belonged to Ignacia Ayerbe (or Eyerbe), a young harpsichordist and very probably a student of Albero’s. It was seemingly Albero himself who introduced his own sonatas among those of the Neapolitan master, in homage to his colleague. This would prove to us that the two musicians knew each other and that they might have collaborated. Certain sources advance the hypothesis that Albero was one of the copyists of the collections of Scarlatti sonatas intended for Queen Maria Barbara. Yet a notable difference between the two emerges from the theme used by Albero, which is already closer to the aesthetic of musicians of Northern Europe, in particular Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, who opened the way to the new tastes that were dominant throughout Europe in the late 18th century. (© Maria Raskin translated by John Tyler Tuttle / Pierre Vérany - Arion)
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Bach : h-Moll Messe, BWV 232

Stephan MacLeod

Classical - Released March 26, 2021 | Claves Records

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The Mass in B minor holds a very special place in J.S. Bach’s output: a work of grandeur, an opus ultimum, it was not composed as such but is the result of an assembly of pieces written at different times and for different circumstances. Bach worked on it during the years 1748-1749, until his eyesight, which had gradually deteriorated, was completely lost. The idea of bringing together pieces drawn essentially from the vast corpus of cantatas was not unusual; a similar approach was taken by several of his contemporaries, such as Handel, and Bach himself had done so for the short masses he composed in the late 1730s. These were called parodies. Moving from the German text of the cantatas to the Latin text of the masses meant adapting the vocal lines, with additions and deletions, polyphonic and harmonic enrichments, and changes in instrumentation. Throughout his life, Bach never ceased to revisit his works with a view to improving them.