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Full Operas - Released May 11, 2018 | Bru Zane

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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Symphonic Music - Released November 1, 2011 | Glossa

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Diamant d'Opéra - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released March 6, 2012 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released November 20, 2015 | Bru Zane

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Qobuzissime
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released November 8, 2019 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Composed in 1824 by Hector Berlioz at the age of twenty-one and premiered at the church of Saint-Roch in Paris in 1825, the Messe solennelle has come down to us following an eventful history. After Berlioz declared that he had destroyed the score, the mass was considered lost until it was rediscovered in Antwerp in 1992. This remarkable work helps us both to appreciate the development of Berlioz’s style – already revolutionary in his early years – and to understand what he owed to his contemporaries, notably Cherubini, whose monumental Requiem Hervé Niquet has already recorded (Alpha 251). Scored for three soloists (soprano, tenor and bass), chorus and orchestra, the work consists of thirteen movements, material from which Berlioz was to reuse in several later works, notably in the ‘Scène aux champs’ of the Symphonie fantastique, which quotes the ‘Gratias’. On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Berlioz’s death, Hervé Niquet, fascinated by this work – ‘There’s nothing he doesn’t know about dramaturgy and vocal style. At the age of twenty!’ – decided to programme it (the concert at the famous Berlioz Festival of La Côte Saint-André was a memorable occasion) and record it in the Chapelle Royale of the Château de Versailles. © Alpha Classics
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released May 25, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice
In the 17th century, Roman churches were competing to put on the greatest show to celebrate their patron saints. On these occasions, extraordinary services were performed, where many different artists would be brought together, singers and instrumentalists alike, alongside ordinary musicians, for sumptuous pieces performed by several vocal and instrumental choirs. One contemporary description gives an idea of the scale: ten choirs and ensembles played together, two on fixed stages, and eight others distributed symmetrically right along the nave, on platforms built for the occasion. Every additional stage was provided with a positive organ, while many other instruments added to the sonic splendour. So that all the musicians could play well together in spite of the distance, "capi di coro” or time-keeping drummers, would play in unison. Orazio Benevolo (1605-1672) was one of the most remarkable architects of these extravagant, multi-choral monuments. Benevolo was a choirboy at the Church of St. Louis of the French in Rome before he entered the upper echelons by taking the job of Chapel Master in 1638. The composer has left behind him an abundant set of works, containing no fewer than 34 motets for a range of players, including Regna terrae, written for twelve soprano parts distributed across six vocal choirs, each with its own basso continuo. We are also indebted to him for twelve versions of the Magnificat, for between eight and 24 voices, including one for 16 voices, in quadruple choir, which appears here. Hervé Niquet and his Concert Spirituel have made use of the ample acoustics in the Notre-Dame-du-Liban church in Paris, perfectly structured to hold several choirs distributed across the building, to create the sensations of immersion and spatial plenitude that the composer aimed for. © SM/Qobuz
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Gospel - Released October 14, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Award - 4 étoiles Classica
In 1817, two years after the restoration of the monarchy by Louis XVIII, the French court attended a performance of Cherubini’s Requiem in memory of Louis XVI; a few years later, in 1823, the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Marie-Antoinette provided the occasion for giving Charles-Henri Plantade’s Messe des morts in her memory. Berlioz had just arrived in Paris, and Napoleon had recently died in exile on the island of Saint Helena. In 2015, the two works were presented in a single concert at Versailles Palace. While Cherubini’s Requiem, scored for mixed choir and orchestra, but without soloists, is well known, Charles-Henri Plantade’s setting, which shares the same formal characteristics, is a complete discovery. It provides a striking transitional stage between the models of the Ancien Régime and early Romanticism, and displays a wealth of invention reminiscent of Méhul, Cherubini and even Rossini. This is the first recording of the work, which was revived on the initiative of the Palazzetto Bru Zane. A noted specialist in French music and large-scale sacred forms, Hervé Niquet brings out the full strength of these two works, recorded in the Chapelle Royale at Versailles, which further enrich the Alpha/Château de Versailles collection.
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Full Operas - Released June 29, 2010 | Glossa

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica
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Full Operas - Released September 14, 2018 | Bru Zane

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released January 12, 2018 | Bru Zane

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 étoiles de Classica
An icon of French Romanticism thanks to the enduring popularity of his operas Faust and Roméo et Juliette, Charles Gounod competed three times for the prestigious Prix de Rome between 1837 and 1839. Thus he composed three unpublished cantatas for soloists and orchestra, including Marie Stuart et Rizzio and La Vendetta, which he never had the opportunity to hear in performance. Revealed for the first time, these three cantatas, fine examples of French Romanticism, show a young composer with a remarkable flair for opera. In the end Fernand won him the coveted prize, carrying with it the privilege of a three-year stay (from 1840) at the Villa Medici in Rome. While there he produced several sacred compositions, which have also remained unknown until now. His splendid Messe vocale for unaccompanied choir, written in a neo-Palestrinian style, deserves a place on the programme of every vocal ensemble. © Palazzetto Bru Zane
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Classical - Released September 8, 2015 | Bru Zane

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
Félicien David was already famous through his ‘ode-symphonie’ Le Désert (1844) when his opera Herculanum was first staged at the Paris Opéra in 1859. Leaving behind the Middle Eastern inflections of his earlier scores, Herculanum is a remarkably strong composition (vast, intensely dramatic scenes), impressive in the diversity of its style (including Verdian influences) and its vocal variety (including the rare coloratura contralto voice often used by Rossini). There is also a fantastic vein, as made popular by Boiëldieu (La Dame blanche, 1825) and Meyerbeer (Robert le Diable, 1831); but the supernatural is used here to serve an openly stated mysticism: the eruption of Vesuvius brings a spectacular, cataclysmic ending, signifying the decadence of the ancient world and the triumph of Christianity. © Qobuz
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released November 3, 2015 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica
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Full Operas - Released October 23, 2020 | Bru Zane

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
To have written that, you must be a poet, Massenet told Reynaldo Hahn when he read through the score of L’Île du rêve. Composed when the young man was not yet eighteen years old, this ‘curtain-raiser’ already had the qualities of the great works of the period. It reveals the coloristic talents of Bizet, the passionate outbursts of Massenet and even the prosodic originality of the young Debussy. The plot recounts a French naval officer’s love affair with a young Polynesian girl he has to abandon. This subject - also treated musically by Puccini (Madama Butterfly) and Delibes (Lakmé - is approached in an almost Symbolist style: the Romanticism of the music contrasts with a contemplative, introspective treatment of the narration. This is where the youthful Hahn particularly shines: in the very first bars (the hymn to Bora-Bora), in the various love scenes for Loti and Mahenu (notably the duet "Restons encore les paupieres mi-closes") and even in the neo-Handelian prelude to Act Two. © Bru Zane
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Classical - Released November 8, 2019 | Bru Zane

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
France owes a great deal to the Palazzetto Bru Zane (a centre devoted to French music of the Romantic period, founded in 2009). It has brought forgotten French music back to life thanks to its research and publications and without it, we wouldn’t have known that many talented composers even existed aside from the likes of Berlioz, Debussy and Ravel. This new monographic volume of the “Portraits” series includes chamber, choral and symphonic music from Fernand de La Tombelle (1854-1928), a Parisian composer and organist who was involved in the founding of the Schola Cantorum de Paris, along with Vincent d’Indy. He is known for his extensive repertoire that covers all genres with the exception of opera. Aside from being a well-educated aristocrat originating from the Thiérache region of France on his father’s side and the Dordogne region on his mother’s side, La Tombelle was also a humanist who was passionate about poetry, folklore, photography and astronomy. The enthusiastic conductor for orchestra and choir, Hervé Niquet, is fully committed to doing justice to such unearthed works. Acting as guest conductor of the fantastic Brussels Philharmonic, he can be credited with the tense and dramatic renditions found in the first part of the album of Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra (Hannes Minnaar on piano), a work which was inspired by Liszt and Saint-Saëns, as well as two Orchestral Suites, Impressions matinales and Livre d’images, in a style that was first developed by Jules Massenet. The second volume is devoted to chamber music and boasts an astonishing Sonata for three Cellos (François Salque, Hermine Horiot and Adrien Bellom) which brings to mind Fauré (Andantino) and Edvard Grieg’s most esteemed masterpiece, Peer Gynt (Lento). The portrait also includes Piano Quartet (I Giardini) and Cello Sonata (Emmanuelle Bertrand and Pascal Amoyel), as well some additional works (Yann Beuron and Jeff Cohen) and choral pieces (Flemish Radio Choir). Further proof of the great abundance and diversity of French works. © François Hudry/QobuzGifted with a strong temperament and a curious nature, Fernand de La Tombelle is a highly appealing and interesting figure among French Romantic composers. He left a substantial œuvre, protean, stylistically eclectic, even atypical, that deserves reassessment not only for its own merits, but also because it illustrates a certain form of social and artistic activity in France at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This new albul in the Palazzetto Bru Zane’s ‘Portraits’ series reveals the multiple facets of a captivating personality, ranging from orchestral music with operatic overtones through introspective chamber works to choral music recalling the Renaissance madrigal. The sublime Fantaisie for piano and orchestra would suffice on its own to demonstrate the quality of La Tombelle’s inspiration. To champion his cause as it deserves, this set calls on no fewer than fourteen soloists, along with orchestra, chorus and conductor. © Palazzetto Bru Zane
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Classical - Released October 25, 2019 | Musique en Wallonie

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
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Opera - Released January 1, 2014 | Bru Zane

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released April 2, 2013 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
So thoroughly centralized in Paris was French musical life in the age of the Sun King that composers from other parts of France were largely forgotten. Louis Le Prince, who worked in the Norman town of Lisieux, is a case in point. Despite the obvious talent shown in the mass recorded here, it is his only surviving work, and little has been passed down about his life and music. The Missa Macula non est in te (There Is No Stain on Thee Mass) is not a mass in the Renaissance style with preexisting material; the "macula non est in te" title refers to its suitability for Marian liturgies. It's a fully chordal Baroque work, without written-out instrumental parts but realized here by historical-reconstruction specialist Hervé Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel with string parts doubling the voices. This is reasonable. Less desirable is the rearrangement for all female voices; while many works, including Vivaldi's famous Gloria, were sung this way, in the case of a virtually unknown work it might be good to hear it as it was written, for six parts from soprano down to bass. This aside, the group has a feel for how to avoid a mechanical feel in large French choral works of this kind, and the mass itself is delightful. Le Prince uses little points of imitation to vary and enliven the texture, and the whole piece is unusually lively. The movements of the mass are divided up as they would be in liturgical performance, with motets by Marc-Antoine Charpentier and one by Lully inserted in between (and before and after the mass). These grand pieces make an effective contrast with the mass, and you can imagine them being imported from Paris for a special occasion of the kind for which the mass was doubtless written. The sound environment of Paris' Notre Dame de Liban is ideal here. Le Prince isn't a lost master, but French Baroque enthusiasts will find that this recording fills a big hole on their shelves. © TiVo
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Opera - Released September 4, 2012 | Glossa

Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica
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Classical - Released January 1, 2008 | Glossa

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Classical - Released September 6, 2011 | Glossa

Booklet
André Campra has the distinction of being the most prominent French opera composer in the decades between Lully and Rameau, but even the operas of those two great masters are so rarely performed or recorded that it's not surprising that Campra's are virtually unknown to modern audiences. That makes this very fine recording with Hervé Niquet leading Choeur et Orchestre du Concert Spirituel and Les Chantres du Centre de musique baroque de Versailles all the more valuable and welcome to fans of the French Baroque. Campra enthusiastically embraced the innovations of Italian opera, particularly the da capo aria, that Lully had scorned. The plot of Le Carneval de Venise (obviously) even takes place in Italy in an opera theater preparing a performance, and it involves an opera within an opera; it concludes with a performance of an operatic divertissement in Italian, Orfeo nell'inferi, in which Campra unabashedly adopts Italian conventions. The French sections are similar in sound and style to Lully's operas-ballets even though Campra doesn't have Lully's genius for simple, memorable melody. Orfeo nell'inferi very skillfully uses the florid manner of late 17th century opera, and the juxtaposition of the two styles, while intriguing to modern ears, must have been absolutely revolutionary to French audiences who were finally exposed to the innovations of Italian opera. The singers, chorus, and orchestra are skilled in both the Italian and French conventions of Middle Baroque performance practice and they offer a compelling account of the piece. The orchestra and the chorus (which is used very prominently in the French sections) play and sing with precision and lively energy. Niquet's tempos are fluid and he maintains a strong sense of momentum throughout. The soloists are never less than adequate and several stand out, particularly sopranos Salomé Haller and Sarah Tynan, tenor Mathias Vidal, baritone Andrew Foster-Williams, and bass Luigi de Donato. Glossa's sound is characteristically immaculate present and beautifully balanced. © TiVo