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Secular Vocal Music - Released April 27, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Special Soundchecks
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
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Secular Vocal Music - Released April 13, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice
The least that we can say here is that soprano Sandrine Piau refuses to be pigeonholed: she cheerfully steers a course from the German romanticism of Schumann, Wolf or Loewe; to Debussy, all the way to the near-Broadway work of André Prévin, by way of Poulenc, Gurney and Samuel Barber… Her crystal-clear voice rejects any vocal Italicisms (no glissandos, no cooing, no notes attacked from below, no parasitic diphthongs, and a carefully-controlled vibrato), so that we get nothing but the music – and the words of course, comprehensible regardless of the language. Her long experience of baroque song – and the world of Mozart, in which she excels – has given her magnificent rigour, but her broad repertoire, which she deploys here, is full of power, from the suavest pianissimo to the most imposing fortissimo. As for pianist Susan Manoff, she simply offers the best possible musical accompaniment to the repertoires of the Lied, of French mélodie, romance and art song: and she is especially unmissable here, alongside one of today's greatest French voices. © SM/Qobuz
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Oratorios (secular) - Released February 16, 2018 | Warner Classics

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Cantatas (secular) - Released January 26, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica
The son of one of the Twenty-four Violins of the King, Nicolas Clérambault was born in Paris in 1676. He was a precocious child: he is credited with a large choral motet, composed when he was just thirteen years old. His education was provided by excellent masters and he was a close friend of Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers, whom he eventually replaced in 1714 at the tribune of Saint-Sulpice and the Maison Royale de Saint-Louis in Saint-Cyr. In addition to a book for harpsichord, and another for the organ, Clérambault composed numerous motets, but during his lifetime already, his French Cantatas were the works that solidified his reputation: five books featuring twenty cantatas in addition to five single cantatas. They highlight his evolution, from a craft similar to his masters of the 17th century to the pure, classical style that soon became his. Apollon, Cantatte sur la paix, à voix seule, et simphonie écrite pour le Roy (Apollo, Cantata for Peace, single voice, and Symphony written for the King) dates back to the very end of Louis XIV’s rule, which was marked by war and famine; in it, Clérambault glorifies the King, often portrayed as Apollo, while echoing the overall feeling among the population: peace! His 1710 cantata Le Jaloux (The Jealous) departs from the standard framework: no action, no lauding or flattery, simply a delicious tableau of jealousy! The album’s centrepiece remains 1713 Pyrame et Thisbé (Pyramus and Thisbe), derived from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Pyramus and Thisbe love each other, but their parents are opposed to their union. A beautiful instrumental prelude precedes the first recitative, which introduces and frames this tragedy. The melody closing the cantata is in a way the moral of the story. Between these two ends, Clérambault strings together recitatives, melodies, symphonies, as if in a lyric tragedy. The A Nocte Temporis ensemble – flute, violin, viola de gamba, harpsichord – accompany tenor Reinoud van Mechelen who performs these intense moments of great French classicism with perfect conviction and diction – crucial for this kind of textual works – while respecting the pronunciation specific to that era. For instance, “l’espoir de se revoir” turns into “l’espouêr de se revouêr”! The son of one of the Twenty-four Violins of the King, Nicolas Clérambault was born in Paris in 1676. He was a precocious child: he is credited with a large choral motet, composed when he was just thirteen years old. His education was provided by excellent masters and he was a close friend of Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers, whom he eventually replaced in 1714 at the tribune of Saint-Sulpice and the Maison Royale de Saint-Louis in Saint-Cyr. In addition to a book for harpsichord, and another for the organ, Clérambault composed numerous motets, but during his lifetime already, his French Cantatas were the works that solidified his reputation: five books featuring twenty cantatas in addition to five single cantatas. They highlight his evolution, from a craft similar to his masters of the 17th century to the pure, classical style that soon became his. Apollon, Cantatte sur la paix, à voix seule, et simphonie écrite pour le Roy (Apollo, Cantata for Peace, single voice, and Symphony written for the King) dates back to the very end of Louis XIV’s rule, which was marked by war and famine; in it, Clérambault glorifies the King, often portrayed as Apollo, while echoing the overall feeling among the population: peace! His 1710 cantata Le Jaloux (The Jealous) departs from the standard framework: no action, no lauding or flattery, simply a delicious tableau of jealousy! The album’s centrepiece remains 1713 Pyrame et Thisbé (Pyramus and Thisbe), derived from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Pyramus and Thisbe love each other, but their parents are opposed to their union. A beautiful instrumental prelude precedes the first recitative, which introduces and frames this tragedy. The melody closing the cantata is in a way the moral of the story. Between these two ends, Clérambault strings together recitatives, melodies, symphonies, as if in a lyric tragedy. The A Nocte Temporis ensemble – flute, violin, viola de gamba, harpsichord – accompany tenor Reinoud van Mechelen who performs these intense moments of great French classicism with perfect conviction and diction – crucial for this kind of textual works – while respecting the pronunciation specific to that era. For instance, “l’espoir de se revoir” turns into “l’espouêr de se revouêr”! © SM/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released January 19, 2018 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
With Affetti amorosi Damien Guillon directs a dazzling selection of vocal works from Girolamo Frescobaldi, drawn from the Ferrara composer’s two books of Arie musicali. These arias date from 1615-1630, by which time Frescobaldi, now resident in Rome, had become a “cult” composer, and permitted great expressive freedom in the performance of his music. Purposefully offering a recording full of contrasts and singing of human and divine love, countertenor Guillon is admirably matched by the other vocal talents in Le Banquet Céleste: soprano Céline Scheen, tenor Thomas Hobbs and bass Benoît Arnould. This new Glossa recording includes two of Frescobaldi’s enduring and moving spiritual sonnets, Maddalena alla croce and Ohimè che fur as well as one of the nascent Baroque’s favoured vocal forms, the lettera amorosa, in Vanne, o carta amorosa. The singers are joined by lute, harp, cello and harpsichord from Guillon’s ensemble. In his wideranging and thought-provoking essay Pierre-Élie Mamou points out vivid characteristics of this early Baroque music – including “the play of opposites that greatly moves our souls” – notably the polarities between anxiety and pleasure, and time which passes and time which remains.© Glossa
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Secular Vocal Music - Released December 1, 2017 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason découverte
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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 17, 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet
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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 10, 2017 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Around the Franco-Italian mezzo soprano Lea Desandre – who made her big début with William Christie in the Jardins des voix, then won the "Lyrical Revelation" prize in the Victoires de la musique in 2017 – the sopranos Nathalie Pérez and Chantal Santon-Jeffery have concocted a programme that takes in many different lyrical incarnations of Berenice of Egypt and her misadventures with the King, Antigono Gonatas, through the prism of Metastasio's Antigone, which has been set to music by well over thirty composers, some focusing more on Antigone, others on Berenice. We will hear little-known airs like those of Haydn, Mozart, Johann Christian Bach and Hasse: the principle virtue of this album is that it allows us to discover these rarities, which often call for virtuoso vocal talents, and so are perfect for the voices of the three singers presented here. A rarity among rarities, we will also find a stunning air from Marianna von Martinez who held a musical salon in Vienna which received visits from... Haydn and Mozart. © SM/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 10, 2017 | SWR Classic

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 10, 2017 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
This project originated, Sabine Devieilhe says, from her desire to tackle Lakmé. In fact, Delibes was able to compose for her heroine some of the most memorable pages for coloratura soprano, starting with the hugely famous "air des clochettes" [Bell Song]. And as Western ears at the time were eager for musical and poetic voyages, and sensations from far-off lands, we find these same Oriental fantasies with Maurice Delage, who himself went on a grand tour of India, where he found modal colours, but also in Madame Chrysanthème by Messager or Rossignol by Stravinsky, to say nothing of the Egypt of Thaïs as portrayed by Anatole France and Massenet. Sabine Devieilhe, who won the "Lyrical revelation" prize at Victoires de la musique classique in 2013 before winning "Lyrical artist of the year" at the same ceremony – certainly not an unfair judgement of this particular artist – started her recording career with recordings of Rameau, Bach and Mozart, before launching into the lyrical repertoire from more recent years… And with great success! © SM/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 3, 2017 | Carpe Diem

Hi-Res Booklet
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Secular Vocal Music - Released October 27, 2017 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
This album is a selection of pieces from Arie antiche, a 19th Century collection of songs edited by Alessandro Parisotti to be a vocal primer. Though now more famous as the editor of Arie antiche, Parisotti was also a composer, and he managed to slip one of his own works into the book by attributing to Giovanni Pergolesi his song "Se tu m'ami". The collection was very much a part of the trend to rediscover old and forgotten works, and the popularity of the three-volume set has endured to this day. For this album the musicians of Orfeo 55 have worked painstakingly to source original scores and to edit the parts as necessary. While the instrumental works are not part of Parisotti’s primer, they provide brief musical interludes between the songs to enhance the overall listening experience and bring these works together into a coherent programme. © Warner Classics
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Secular Vocal Music - Released October 13, 2017 | SWR Classic

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Secular Vocal Music - Released October 6, 2017 | Signum Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
The Gabrieli ensemble, under the direction of their remarkable leader Paul McCreesh, explore here the immensely rich British choral repertoire which is known as partsong, a sort of choral piece made up of a profane song written or arranged for several vocal parts. The theme can originate in folk music (real or imagined), or it can be even older - the term covers a vast range of formats. This is a long way from the rather soppy variety of vaguely pastoral pieces that are widely-spread, but less rich because more constrained in rhythmic, melodic and textual terms: many of the lyrics in this record are great poetry, and represent a corpus of 20th Century madrigals every bit as rich as their glorious Renaissance ancestors. Vaughan Williams and Elgar lead the way, followed by Charles Villiers Stanford, Herbert Howell and Percy Grainger (Australian by birth, but very British at heart), Britten et Warlock (nom de plume and nom de guerre of Philip Heseltine, a flamboyant and louche figure), and finally James McMillan and Jonathan Dive bring us up to the present day. For all its modern elements, the record doesn't neglect its heritage - the iconoclastic avant-garde is dead and buried - making this a real treat for aficionados, and when this excellent music is sung by the Gabrieli ensemble, our happiness is complete. © SM/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released September 22, 2017 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 4 étoiles de Classica
The theatres of London were vital centres for Restoration music after the return of the Stuart monarchy, following the fall of Cromwell's puritan dictatorship. Reinvigorated by the arrival of women actors and sumptuous decoration, they attracted a broad audience, which had been starved of entertainment after the years of religious rigour and the virtual ban on public performances. The most sought-after composer of the period was Locke, whose experience in this field went back into the Cromwell years. While Puritans did close theatres, some pieces had been able to overcome the ban, like the masque Cupid and Death set to music by Gibbons, which was played for the Portuguese ambassador in 1657 - then again in 1659, with additional music by Locke. When the theatres re-opened in 1660, there was a demand for music for every play, but more as an ornament than as an integral part of the plot. Each one required a series of airs and instrumental pieces to be played at the start and between each act. Locke wrote more than twenty airs of this type, although they can't be pinpointed to any specific plays. Most of his stage music, like Curtain Tune and Lilk, survive in various manuscripts from the period, and comprises stage music for plays performed in the final decade of the 17th Century. These are the inter-act pieces, airs or "curtain-raisers" which Bertrand Cuiller's Caravansérail ensemble plays here - Cuiller, remember, learned the harpsichord with Pierre Hantaï and Christophe Rousset. His last solo album, Rameau's complete works for harpsichord, was declared Classica's Shock of the Year 2015. The airs here are sung by Scottish soprano Rachel Redmond, a great performer of baroque music.
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Cantatas (secular) - Released September 1, 2017 | CapriccioNR

Distinctions 5 de Diapason
This is the three-part version of Mahler’s Das Klagende Lied that the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra brought us. It’s worth pointing out that the composer rearranged his piece many times. The original writing dates from 1880, when he was a proud twenty-year old; after a several refusals, he rewrote the partition in 1883 (considerably reducing the initial orchestral headcount which, admittedly, required titanic forces, and deleting the first act) then again in 1899, proof that he was holding it in some regard. It was only in 1901, when he was finally famous, that he managed to give this work in concert—but in the two-part version—, without much success, as it would seem. And yet, all of Mahler is already in this musical discourse and we shouldn’t be surprised to find many turns from this work in the symphonies and orchestral Lieder. The present recording offers a “hybrid” version, which is actually the most performed, that is to say: the first part Waldmärchen (Forest Legend) in the 1880 writing, then the two following parts Der Spielmann (The Minstrel) and Hochzeitsstück (Wedding Piece), in the 1899 rewriting. © Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released June 9, 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Diapason d'or / Arte
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Secular Vocal Music - Released May 31, 2017 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
The Carnival of Venice in 1729 was quite unlike any other. Over a period of two months, opera houses went into a frenzy of competition to show off the most famous singers of the day, including the legendary castrato Farinelli who made his astonishing Venetian debut. Several of the most fashionable composers rose to the occasion, writing ravishing music for spectacular productions which often pitted the singers against each other in breathtaking displays of virtuosity. The results were sensational; one tour de force followed another in an atmosphere of fevered excitement and the adoring public lapped it up. The carnival opened with a star-studded cast in Leonardo Leo’s tragedy Cantone in Utica from which the dazzling aria Soffre talor del vento and the more gentle Ombra adorata are taken. Farinelli triumphed in Nicolo Porpora’s opera Semiramide, the perfect vehicle for his extraordinary technique. By contrast Adelaide by Giuseppe Maria Orlandini, another premiere, contains show-stopping displays for Farinelli’s arch rival Faustina Bordoni. And Germiano Giacomelli’s elegant opera Gianguir contains the achingly beautiful aria Mi par sentir la bella. Most of these rediscovered works are recorded here for the first time. (c) Pentatone
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Secular Vocal Music - Released May 5, 2017 | Nimbus Records

Distinctions Diapason d'or
George Benjamin’s 2006 chamber opera Into the Little Hill was commissioned by the Paris National Opera, the Ensemble Modern and a few other high-level companies. The libretto, by British playwright Martin Crimp, is an updated version of the tale of the Pied Piper, i.e. the Ratcatcher of Hamelin, with added contemporary political and social overtones: the power of music and its exploitation in today’s world. The story is told by just two singers, a soprano (embodying The Crowd, The Stranger, a Narrator, The Minister's Child) and a contralto (The Crowd, a Narrator, The Minister, The Minister's Wife), who share all the characters and narration, thus acknowledging the inherently artificial nature of sung drama even though, occasionally, particularly in heated moments, it does approach the naturalistic. The score is typical of Benjamin: spare, somewhat austere, meticulously calibrated between instruments and voices, all the more since the orchestration, limited to a 15-person ensemble, employs some highly unusual timbres, ranging from bass flute, mandolin and cimbalom to banjo, contrabass clarinet and basset-horns. The recording is conducted by the composer in person. The same remark applies to the other major work on the album, the song cycle Dream of the Song, featuring countertenor Bejun Mehta and the Concertgebouw orchestra. This is assuredly one of the most intense and emotional song cycle composed these last few years. © SM/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released April 28, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année