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Classical - Released September 19, 2011 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Hi-Res Audio
Here's a beautiful collection of Baroque choral music from a repertory that's been somewhat neglected, perhaps because its most substantial representative, Domenico Scarlatti's Stabat Mater à 10, has been transmitted in versions that don't make a clear performance practice obvious. Lamentazione, or laments for the crucified Jesus Christ, called forth an antique style, with heavy use of polyphony and sometimes polychoral (multiple-choir) textures. Yet the composers represented here didn't simply write pieces in the Palestrina style: they intensified the old polyphonic idiom with rich chromaticism and expressive dissonances. The model for some of them was Scarlatti's piece, which was extraordinarily popular in the 18th century. Its ten parts do not divide into two choirs of five, but are put together into constantly shifting groups that add an expressive variety of textures to the work's rich harmonic language. Some of the verses are reduced to solo voices in other performances, but Les Arts Florissants, under newly deputized conductor Paul Agnew, make a persuasive case here for choral performance throughout: the textures are plenty varied as it is. In the program here variety is provided by the solo performance of Legrenzi's Quam amarum est, Maria. Crucifixus settings by Lotti and Caldara are similar in texture to the Scarlatti, but the Miserere of Leonardo Leo, elsewhere one of the most progressive composers of the early 18th century, is a full-scale and magnificent reversion to the Venetian polychoral style. It was well known in the 19th century, and even Wagner admired it. But it's rarely heard nowadays. Les Arts Florissants deploy a 20-voice choir, just big enough to fill the musical spaces involved but small enough to keep the polyphonic moves clear, and their singing, recorded in live performances, is intense and expressive. A very strong Baroque choral release from Virgin Classics. © TiVo
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Classical - Released February 5, 2021 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
The facts of Carlo Gesualdo's life are perhaps as well known as his music: he caught his wife and her lover in the act, brutally murdered them both, fled her enraged family, and entered a life of seclusion where he pursued increasingly arcane and extreme musical experiments. A source of controversy with the present release may be that Les Arts Florissants director Paul Agnew argues in the booklet that the wildly experimental qualities of the last books of Gesualdo's madrigals, even found in the Book IV pieces included here, actually shouldn't be connected to the murder but were rather in the cards at the end of the long Italian madrigal tradition. Agnew has a certain amount of evidence on his side; other composers such as Luca Marenzio and the melodiously named Luzzasco Luzzaschi pursued the same kinds of innovations as Gesualdo did. Whatever one's position, these are unusually strong Gesualdo performances. What Agnew and his singers do that often eludes others is to pay attention to the texts, avoiding the agonized mannerisms common in the repertory and deploying just a hint of inflection toward speech instead of sung pitch where it's appropriate. The range of dynamics and phrasing is large -- listen to the deliciously quiet "Dolcissimo sospiro" -- and the listener's interest never flags over the substantial program. Les Arts Florissants have performed Gesualdo frequently, and they are well attuned to the tremendous tension in his music, the feeling of having no idea where the music will go next, no matter where that tension may actually have been coming from. If your Gesualdo collection is in need of a refresh from the classic recordings of Stravinsky's day, this is a fine choice; it is also a good place to start with Gesualdo for anybody. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 30, 2021 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet
With this third volume of "Airs sérieux et à boire", the ensemble Les Arts Florissants return to this genre whose refinement had marked the French musical landscape for over a hundred years. By turns gallant, earthy, or spiritual, these vocal miniatures, prized at the French court, ushered in a ground-breaking style which opened the door to an endless variety of interpretations. "One can hardly find enough praise for the individuality of these inspired performers, for their skill to make the music animate the words ( . . . ) as they display a joyful unity of purpose. A unique event!" (Opéra Magazine). © harmonia mundi
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Opera - Released May 21, 2021 | Dynamic

Hi-Res Booklet
In May 2008, William Christie returned to his first love, with this flamboyant production of Orfeo directed by Pier Luigi Pizzi. This was the first part of the complete Monteverdian trilogy which the pair performed on the famous Madrid stage. At the head of his Arts Florissants, with help from the Sacqueboutiers de Toulouse and some great solo voices, William Christie offers up exquisite timbres and shimmering colours.This show, which has already been released on DVD, is available here in its audio version alone. That means we miss out on the visual delights provided by Pier Luigi Pizzi, one of the last great Italian aesthetes to grace the lyrical stage before it descended into its present, parlous state. The lack of images brings the music into fuller focus: we can enjoy the high-level cast headed by Dietrich Hensel in the title role. Hensel deploys all of his theatrical skill to bring the character to life, stepping out beyond the beautiful songs and the confines of a purely baroque style: this performance certainly proved controversial among critics.Around him, a deluxe cast enter and exit the stage, including the subtle and stylistically perfect Euridice (but also La Musica, and, curiously, Proserpina) played by Maria Grazia Schiavo. Note also the smooth performance by Sonia Prina (Messaggiera, La Speranza), Antonio Abete's splendid Plutone, and the magnificent Cyril Autvity (second Shepherd and first Spirit). This landmark production is now available on Qobuz. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Opera - Released October 14, 1991 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released August 22, 1994 | harmonia mundi

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Opera - Released February 28, 1987 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released April 27, 1989 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 1, 2014 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released November 10, 2009 | Warner Classics International

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Opera - Released April 7, 2014 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released August 20, 1981 | harmonia mundi

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Opera - Released August 20, 1984 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released October 8, 1990 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released August 28, 2020 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released September 10, 1983 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released August 28, 2020 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released June 7, 1993 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released March 18, 1991 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 7, 1992 | harmonia mundi