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Choirs (sacred) - Released May 26, 2011 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
In this exemplary recording of six Bach motets Philippe Herreweghe leads Collegium Vocale Ghent (an ensemble that includes both singers and instrumentalists) and ten soloists in performances of exceptional finesse and elegance. That's no easy task given the dense contrapuntal textures that characterizes several of the motets written for double chorus and orchestra. It takes great skill to keep the music, in a movement like the opening to "Singet dem Herr ein neues Lied," from turning into a murky undifferentiated stew of busyness, but Herreweghe keeps the sound open and varied. One crucial element is the absolutely pristine intonation and pure tone of the singers, which makes the harmonies clear and distinct. Herreweghe's graceful shaping of the phrases creates the sense of overlapping waves rising and falling rather than a monolithic wall of sound. The choruses' discipline in their precise observance of producing matching vowels is another factor that allows the intricacies of the music to come across as clean and well-defined. Although it is scored it for the same forces, in Komm, Jesu, komm Bach works with gleaming, transparent textures, where the felicities of Herreweghe's leadership and the refinement of the soloists, choruses, and orchestra are even more clearly in evidence. His attention to the emotional content of the piece gives the music a powerfully yearning warmth that, in spite of the large number of performers, feels intensely intimate. The engineers deserve much credit for creating such a carefully balanced aural environment, where details pop with amazing clarity and the sound is at the same time warm and enveloping. This is a release best experienced on a sound system that provides optimal separation and definition. Highly recommended; these are performances that should delight and dazzle fans of Baroque choral music. © TiVo
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released January 28, 2014 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - 4 étoiles Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released March 12, 2013 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Record of the Month - 4 étoiles Classica - Hi-Res Audio
Veteran historical-performance conductor Philippe Herreweghe and his Collegium Vocale Gent might seem a questionable choice for Antonín Dvorák's lushly Romantic Stabat Mater. And the booklet essay, which assigns the motivation for the work to Dvorák's 1870s employment at a church that favored pure Palestrina choral style, may further lead you to expect (or fear) a radically stripped-down reading of the work. But actually Herreweghe, like other performers who came of age in the historical-performance movement, has been moving into mainstream repertory, and his interpretation here, while not exactly possessing an intense subjectivity, is well within the mainstream. It's a bit deliberate in the tempos and tends to emphasize the work's roots in church music, but it is in no way chilly, and there's an X factor that comes from the performers' clear enthusiasm for the music. Herreweghe employs a choir of about 60 singers, a far cry from the 840 that performed the work in London, and more monumental performances exist. But it would no doubt have been very often performed by forces of this size, and everything is in balance and very smoothly done. Best of all are the quartet of Flemish and German soloists, whose ensemble work is both precise and relaxed, and who add a sort of lilt to many of their melodies. Listen to the work of mezzo soprano Michaela Selinger in the "Inflammatus et accensus movement" (track 9): she is highly expressive without letting the music expand to operatic dimensions. Herreweghe's characteristic orientation comes through in the final fugue, where the parts are all clearly sculpted and plenty of room is made for the brass underpinning. Add in clear, warm sound from Out Here's engineers, working in the Antwerp deSingel concert hall, and you have a worthy entry in the still not large catalog of recordings of the Stabat Mater. © TiVo
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Secular Vocal Music - Released April 8, 2014 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released September 25, 2012 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released May 15, 2012 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Coup de coeur de l'Académie Charles Cros - 4 étoiles Classica - Hi-Res Audio
The recorded repertoire of Belgian conductor Philippe Herreweghe is centered on Bach, but stretches from the Renaissance to Mahler and Bruckner. Regardless of era, he seems to do best in sober, complex structures that he can unpack with a combination of perfect control and great surface beauty. He has rarely obtained more perfect results than with this recording of works by the towering figure of the Spanish Renaissance, Tomás Luís de Victoria. The Officium Defunctorum, described in the album annotations as a swan song, in fact fulfilled that role both for its dedicatee, the Empress Maria of Spain (Victoria's longtime employer), and for Victoria himself, who wrote nothing else after publishing this music in 1605; he died in 1611. The Offices consist of a requiem mass (Missa pro defunctis), a pair of motets, and a Libera me separate from the mass. The collection seems disparate, but everything is knit together in Victoria's setting. Each section absorbs plainchant seamlessly into the texture, and the overall somber mood is broken by the anguished pleas of the Offertory, asking God for deliverance from the trials of Hell. Herreweghe deploys a 13-voice version (all adults, mixed gender) of his Collegium Vocale here; many of the singers are stars of modest repute on their own, and the vocal textures he draws from them are awesomely rich despite the restricted palette of the music. A selection of Victoria motets rounds out the program, and any one of them would be worth the purchase price. Renaissance choral singing just does not get better than this. © TiVo
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released May 24, 2016 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année
All four of the works on this album come from the last part of Stravinsky's career, when he accepted the reigning serialist orthodoxy of the day. As with other music of the period, these have declined in performance frequency (and were never that popular to begin with) since then. Yet they respond well to the rather stark performances of which early music singers are capable, and that's what you get here from the superb Collegium Vocale Ghent and Royal Flemish Philharmonic. Three of the four are serialist; the last is a completion of a motet by Renaissance experimentalist Carlo Gesualdo. Of the two large chorus-and-orchestra pieces, the Requiem Canticles of 1966 probably enjoy more frequent performances as Stravinsky's last major composition. They are short, almost fragmentary settings of requiem texts that bring Webern to mind. The lesser-known work is Threni (1958), a setting of selections from the Lamentations of Jeremiah the Prophet. This work perhaps comes closer than any other to bringing Stravinsky's late style full circle to the Russian-influenced sound of his early work. Sample the tenor-flügelhorn duet on different versions of the tone row in the "Quomodo sedet," curiously evocative of Orthodox chant. The two small unaccompanied choral pieces are genuine rarities, and they're beautifully sung here. Recommended for lovers of Stravinsky's serialist period, or even just for those who want to sample it. Outhere's engineering work at the De Singel arts center in Antwerp is impressive. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 10, 2011 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica - Hi-Res Audio
Brahms' works for chorus account for a significant part of his output, far greater than would be guessed by the frequency of their performances in modern times, apart from Ein deutsches Requiem. His music for mixed choirs and women's voices, either a cappella or accompanied by piano, are the works that were the most often performed during his lifetime because of their dissemination through the proliferation of amateur community choirs of the era. He wrote relatively few works for chorus and orchestra, most of them in the later part of his career, and this CD brings together an attractive selection of five of them. The most familiar are the Rhapsodie for alto, men's voices, and orchestra, Op. 53, and Schicksalslied for choir and orchestra, Op. 54. Brahms wrote them not long after completing his Requiem, and it's easy to hear echoes of its depths of feeling and musical language in these shorter, but still profound pieces. Gesang der Parzen, Op. 89, his last choral-orchestral work, a setting of Goethe, also deserves broader exposure. It's perhaps the most eccentric musically, filled with unpredictable shifts in direction, but it makes a strong mystical impression particularly in its haunting final moments. The remaining works, the early Begräbnisgesang, Op. 13, and the motet, Warum ist das Licht gegeben, Op. 74/1, may be less likely to find wide audiences, but they are nonetheless satisfying and richly lyrical and are bound to interest the composer's fans and anyone who loves sumptuous Romantic choral music. Phillipe Herreweghe leads Collegium Vocale Gent, a group he founded in 1970, and it's evident from the easy give and take of the performance that there is fluid communication between them. The group sings with seamless phrasing and remarkable subtlety of dynamic inflections. Ann Hallenberg, usually known as a Baroque specialist, brings a light, pure, warmly focused mezzo to the Alto Rhapsody. The sound is clean and ambient, with a good sense of presence. © TiVo
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released September 8, 2017 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 étoiles de Classica
For the third time on the Phi label, Philippe Herreweghe gives us the opportunity to (re)discover three cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach – Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott, BWV 101, Ihr werdet weinen und heulen, BWV 103 and Mache dich, mein Geist, bereit, BWV 115. After two albums of cantatas written during the composer’s first year in Leipzig, the Belgian conductor and his Collegium Vocale Gent, orchestra and choir, will be performing three cantatas he composed during his second year as Kantor at St Thomas’s. The choir and vocal soloists are once again challenged to produce performances of subtlety and refined virtuosity, and the instrumentarium is as rich and colourful as those heard previously in this series. © Phi
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Classical - Released April 16, 2013 | harmonia mundi

Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc du Monde de la Musique
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Classical - Released November 18, 2010 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklets Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Hi-Res Audio
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released March 24, 2015 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama
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Classical - Released May 12, 2017 | Phi

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 4 étoiles Classica
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Classical - Released February 7, 2020 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Bach’s St. John Passion, with its famous opening chorus traversed by shadows and light, is a powerful musical and spiritual reflection. Dramatic, grandiose, complex, resolutely theatrical: there has been no lack of superlatives to describe this supreme masterpiece of western music. Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent present an accomplished reading that reflects their knowledge of the composer, based on extensive research and deepened by countless concerts. Soloists Krešimir Stražanac and Maximilian Schmitt demonstrate the breadth of their talents in the roles of Jesus and the Evangelist. © Phi
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released September 21, 2018 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
For the fourth time on the Phi label, Philippe Herreweghe presents three cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach – Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4, Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild, BWV 79, and Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 80. Written at different moments in the composer’s life and based to a large extent on the works of Martin Luther, these cantatas reflect a marked taste for dramaturgy, vivid word painting and an invariably astonishing use of instruments and voices. Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent give us an accomplished version of these masterpieces, confirming, if further proof were needed, their stature as ardent champions of Bach. © Outhere Music
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Classical - Released January 24, 2012 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
Philippe Herreweghe founded Collegium Vocale Ghent in 1970 and has been its primary conductor since, so it's no surprise that after 40 years, on this 2011 recording of J.S. Bach's B minor Mass, the conductor and choir project an organically unified approach to the masterpiece. From the opening Kyrie Eleison, the singers' intuitive understanding of each other is evident in the surging waves of sound expressing urgent supplications for God's mercy. Throughout, the group responds to Herreweghe's nuanced leadership with supple fluency. Herreweghe draws a bright, vibrant sound from his singers and instrumentalists. His approach to the music is fleet and buoyant, and the musicians respond to his tempi with agility. This reading is nearly 10 minutes shorter than the average version, but it never feels hurried. The group's instrumental ensemble, using period instruments, can produce a full, colorful, rounded sound in the larger choruses, but pares its tone to appropriate leanness in movements like the alto solo Agnus Dei. The horn obbligato in the bass solo Quoniam tu solus sanctus is particularly impressive, especially since it is played on a natural horn. The five vocal soloists are not international superstars but they are expert interpreters of this music, technically solid and distinguished in the purity and expressiveness of their voices. The sound of the Out Here CD is clean and crisp, and somewhat on the bright side. In music of this contrapuntal intricacy, that clarity makes it easy to hear Bach's elaborate interweaving of lines. The ambience is not lacking in warmth and depth, though, and the balance and stereo definition are excellent. © TiVo
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Sacred Oratorios - Released July 31, 2007 | harmonia mundi

Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Sacred Oratorios - Released October 2, 2015 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica
The entire creation of the world in an hour a quarter… it had to be through Haydn’s extraordinary powers of concentration that this insane wager could possibly succeed; others would not even dare attempt it. The Creation, dating from 1798, is one of the most ultimate and powerful of Haydn’s masterpieces. The great composer was always a master of surprise, and his invention of the Big Bang in musical form – including an introduction proclaiming ‘And then there was light’ – is chorally orchestrated to phenomenal effect. The work also retains a wonderful description of the various creations of the Lord; the extravagant evocation of whales remains an intense moment of orchestral invention, and the score is full of a genius which Beethoven had merely tapped into… Philippe Herreweghe has chosen to focus on a certain transparency of place, rather than perpetuating the traditional, bombastic dramatic gestures of orchestras within the German sphere. And, thus, the score gains greater clarity.
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released July 31, 2007 | harmonia mundi

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released November 4, 2014 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason