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Classical - Released May 24, 1999 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - Choc de l'année du Monde de la Musique - Choc du Monde de la Musique - 10 de Répertoire - Recommandé par Classica - 4F de Télérama - Timbre de platine
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Classical - Released October 21, 2010 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklets Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released January 1, 2003 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc du Monde de la Musique - 10 de Répertoire - Recommandé par Classica
Early seventeenth century Italy was essentially a Catholic police state and nothing that had anything to do with the Church was left unsupervised. After the Sack of Rome and the Reformation, in Milan as elsewhere in Italy, music was directed to be simple, solemn, and sublime in that order. In response, as this splendid disc by Le Poème Harmonique directed by Vincent Dumestre demonstrates, the composers of Milan dissimulated. Vincenzo Ruffo, maestro di cappella of the Duomo, dropped his elegantly ornate madrigal style and wrote the austerely beautiful Missa Quarti Toni but imbued with the same sense of luminous joy. The Archbishop of Milan told Aquilino Coppini to provide contrafacta -- new words for pre-composed music -- for the glory of the God and Coppini turned in sanctified versions of Monteverdi's erotic madrigals but with the same sense of rapturous ecstasy. The Cardinal from Rome ordered that only fauxbourdon -- "false bass" or two-part harmony -- was to be sung in church and musicians evolved the fauxbourdon into richly ornamented but absolutely lucid and with the same sense of the transcendent bliss. As these sumptuously executed and passionately dedicated performances prove, even the Church could not eliminate spirituality from church music. Alpha's sound, notes, and graphics are, as always, executed at the highest possible level. © TiVo
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Classical - Released June 21, 2002 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc du Monde de la Musique - Recommandé par Répertoire - Recommandé par Classica
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Classical - Released February 8, 2002 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - 10 de Répertoire - Recommandé par Classica
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Classical - Released September 30, 2003 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - 10 de Répertoire - Recommandé par Classica
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Classical - Released September 28, 2001 | Alpha

Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc du Monde de la Musique - Recommandé par Répertoire
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Classical - Released May 28, 2004 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc du Monde de la Musique - 10 de Classica-Répertoire - Hi-Res Audio
This disc is part of a superb series from France's Alpha label, mostly covering early Baroque repertory, that offers handsome packaging bearing an artwork contemporary with the music on the disc, shown both complete and in detail. The painting of Bacchus and Ariadne shown here is attributed to Louis Le Nain, one of those artists you may have sprinted past in the Louvre on your way to see the Mona Lisa. After reading the informative essay here, however, you'll take more time in that gallery on your next visit. The music on the disc, as with many recordings in this series, is even less well known; the composer of most of it, Antoine Boësset (1587-1643), is not even mentioned in music history texts. He was a composer of airs de cour, court airs, for Louis XIII, and that entire genre will be new to most non-French listeners. On the evidence here, it's a treasure trove. Boësset's pieces are songs for a solo voice or a small group, accompanied by viols and lutes. They are lightly polyphonic at most, and they show the influence of Italian opera -- but it is only an accent, not the meat of the music. A few pieces are in Italian and a few in Spanish, another fashion of the day. The texts are mostly little pastoral scenes or odes to feminine beauty, aimed at exquisite exploration of a specific affect rather than at dramatic impact. There are also texted interludes from the ballet de cour and works from Boësset's contemporaries that fill out the picture of his place and time. One sacred song, Ô Dieu, is included and placed near the end, seemingly as a check on all the frivolity; it is especially lovely, as is the title track of the album, Je meurs sans mourir (I die without dying). There are also some instrumental interludes from dramatic works. The music is graceful, natural, and sensuous in the extreme. The French ensemble Le Poème Harmonique gives gentle, highly evocative performances of these works, but the real highlight, perhaps, is the booklet, which weighs in at 56 pages (half English, half French). Along with the essay on Le Nain's painting is a complete introduction to Boësset and his world. It may be tough going for the casual reader, and it takes some work to find the commentary pertaining to a specific piece if you're just thumbing through, but it offers deep context for this music and brings it fully alive even though it's completely unfamiliar. The only complaints are that, for all the care obviously lavished on the booklet, two of the pieces, numbers 14 and 15, are reversed in the track listing from how they actually appear on disc (the ordering in the track listing would have been better), and that in one of the excerpts from stage works, track 11, the group makes a questionable decision to interpolate part of another work that doesn't really fit. This album is strongly recommended for lovers of the French Baroque, and indeed for anyone who has walked slowly through the Louvre and wondered about the culture of Louis XIII and his era. You could take a course at your local university, or you could just fork over the cost of this one CD. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2000 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc du Monde de la Musique - 10 de Répertoire
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Classical - Released April 13, 2001 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 10 de Répertoire - Recommandé par Classica
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Classical - Released November 4, 2014 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 4 étoiles Classica
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Classical - Released August 27, 2004 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - 5 croches d'Opéra International
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Classical - Released October 6, 2015 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles Classica
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Classical - Released January 11, 2011 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording
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Classical - Released August 31, 2006 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - 10 de Classica-Répertoire
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Classical - Released August 26, 2005 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - 10 de Classica-Répertoire
Unlike most of the music in the fabulous "ut pictura musica" series from France's Alpha label, that presented here is something of a speculative reconstruction. As one section of the complex booklet (in French and English) explains, English ensemble instrumental music of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries might be played by either a "whole" (homogeneous) or "broken" (diverse) consort. "It is [the] tradition of the whole consort that we wish to revive on this recording," writes director Vincent Dumestre. But it is a specific and rather unusual kind of whole consort that he is talking about: one made up entirely of plucked stringed instruments and mostly of lutes. Little music of this kind has come down to the present in notated form, but literary and iconographic evidence shows that it existed, and it is supposed to have had an improvisational component. The music, here, some of it anonymous and some of it by John Johnson, Antony Holborne, John Dowland, the pretentiously named Giovanni Coprario (he was really just John Cooper), and other contemporaries, has various sources; some of it is lute music, some keyboard music, some of it instrumental music from masques or for plays, some of it dance music, some of it abstract like the In nomine pattern, and some of it representing the earliest layers of what can be called popular tunes (Greensleeves, for example), in a few cases Scottish. It has thus been imaginatively adapted for the present medium. The notes go into the historical issues in some detail for interested listeners, but one can also just plunge into the music and be satisfied. The opening Wakefilde on a green, a set of divisions or variations by Johnson, immediately immerses the listener in a sound world like hardly anything else in Renaissance music, with a virginal (played by Pierre Hantaï, a major presence here) and a bass cittern supporting the lutes in large, sweeping, expressive waves. The music seems to violate the boundary between indoor and outdoor that prevailed in Elizabeth's time; it is dramatic and festive, yet still interior -- music, perhaps, for an important event in a large hall. The forces range from a single lutenist or keyboardist to a booming group of six players, and the program, running from dances such as Johnson's Trenchmore (the name of an Irish dance) to complex intellectual exercises like the anonymous Upon la re mi, is consistently arresting. With these riches, it seems almost a surfeit to have Alpha's usual inclusion of a discussion of a painting related to the musical repertoire at hand -- a portrait of a rather disdainful yet sad young nobleman who has slipped outside castle walls to think or to meet someone. The portrait is stylized, yet a feeling of melancholy seems to burst through it. Much the same might be said of the music on this remarkable album, which listeners from English music enthusiasts to total newcomers may well greet with a reaction somewhere between surprise and shock. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2002 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - 10 de Répertoire
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Chamber Music - Released May 28, 2004 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
This disc is part of a superb series from France's Alpha label, mostly covering early Baroque repertory, that offers handsome packaging bearing an artwork contemporary with the music on the disc, shown both complete and in detail. The painting of Bacchus and Ariadne shown here is attributed to Louis Le Nain, one of those artists you may have sprinted past in the Louvre on your way to see the Mona Lisa. After reading the informative essay here, however, you'll take more time in that gallery on your next visit. The music on the disc, as with many recordings in this series, is even less well known; the composer of most of it, Antoine Boësset (1587-1643), is not even mentioned in music history texts. He was a composer of airs de cour, court airs, for Louis XIII, and that entire genre will be new to most non-French listeners. On the evidence here, it's a treasure trove. Boësset's pieces are songs for a solo voice or a small group, accompanied by viols and lutes. They are lightly polyphonic at most, and they show the influence of Italian opera -- but it is only an accent, not the meat of the music. A few pieces are in Italian and a few in Spanish, another fashion of the day. The texts are mostly little pastoral scenes or odes to feminine beauty, aimed at exquisite exploration of a specific affect rather than at dramatic impact. There are also texted interludes from the ballet de cour and works from Boësset's contemporaries that fill out the picture of his place and time. One sacred song, Ô Dieu, is included and placed near the end, seemingly as a check on all the frivolity; it is especially lovely, as is the title track of the album, Je meurs sans mourir (I die without dying). There are also some instrumental interludes from dramatic works. The music is graceful, natural, and sensuous in the extreme. The French ensemble Le Poème Harmonique gives gentle, highly evocative performances of these works, but the real highlight, perhaps, is the booklet, which weighs in at 56 pages (half English, half French). Along with the essay on Le Nain's painting is a complete introduction to Boësset and his world. It may be tough going for the casual reader, and it takes some work to find the commentary pertaining to a specific piece if you're just thumbing through, but it offers deep context for this music and brings it fully alive even though it's completely unfamiliar. The only complaints are that, for all the care obviously lavished on the booklet, two of the pieces, numbers 14 and 15, are reversed in the track listing from how they actually appear on disc (the ordering in the track listing would have been better), and that in one of the excerpts from stage works, track 11, the group makes a questionable decision to interpolate part of another work that doesn't really fit. This album is strongly recommended for lovers of the French Baroque, and indeed for anyone who has walked slowly through the Louvre and wondered about the culture of Louis XIII and his era. You could take a course at your local university, or you could just fork over the cost of this one CD. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 28, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Henry Purcell died on 21 November 1695 at the age of thirty- six. The music he had written for the funeral of Queen Mary only eight months earlier was performed again for his burial service. Soon afterwards, several composers paid tribute to Purcell by writing odes in his memory. Jeremiah Clarke’s homage to ‘Orpheus Britannicus’ in his Ode on the Death of Henry Purcell is a deeply moving token of the younger composer’s admiration. Alas, Clarke too was destined to die in his prime, and we can only imagine what the destiny of British music might have been if their lives had been prolonged. After an acclaimed production of Dido and Aeneas, Vincent Dumestre and Le Poème Harmonique continue their exploration of the world of Purcell and seventeenth-century English music. Constantly keeping an ear out for multiple musical ramifications, from Dowland to Lully by way of the Elizabethan masques, this new programme spotlights the genius of Jeremiah Clarke, whose sadly premature death makes us regret all the marvels he might have produced. Here is a collection of masterpieces coupling two of Purcell’s most popular works with an exceptional discovery. (c) Alpha Classics
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Classical - Released January 14, 2014 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
This recording of the Poème Harmonique revitalizes Charpentier's and Lully's Te deum, two magnificent pieces of sacred music celebrating the Sun King's victory and recovery. Lully, who was of Italian origin, found the essence and style of French art, while Charpentier gave the emotion and composition methods he had learned from the Italians to the music of his country. This is the story of two musicians, two countries, two aesthetics, and two fundamental stakes. Lully became a lauded composer, outshining Charpentier and relegating him to an undeserved subpar position. (© Alpha)