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Chamber Music - To be released October 1, 2021 | BIS

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Classical - To be released October 1, 2021 | BIS

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Classical - To be released October 1, 2021 | BIS

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Classical - To be released October 1, 2021 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet
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Chamber Music - To be released October 1, 2021 | BIS

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Chamber Music - To be released October 1, 2021 | BIS

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Chamber Music - Released September 3, 2021 | BIS

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Previous instalments of the Beethoven sonata cycle from Frank Peter Zimmermann and Martin Helmchen have met with wide acclaim. Described as "conversations by a perfect instrumental pairing" in BBC Music Magazine. This the third and final volume brings together Beethoven's last three works in the genre, composed between 1801 and 1812. The centre-piece is the Ninth Sonata, the famed "Kreutzer"-Sonata. The title page of the first edition described the sonata as "written in a highly concertante style" and it does indeed surpass everything that had previously been written in the genre, in terms of scale as well as technical and compositional complexity. It is preceded by the more lightweight Sonata No. 8 in G major, in which ideas and motifs chase each other until the end of the whirlwind finale. Also in G major, Beethoven’s Tenth and final Violin Sonata closes the volume. It was composed almost ten years after the "Kreutzer", and is certainly less spectacular. In no way is it a step backwards in artistic terms, however: exchanging drama and heroics with songful intimacy, it is rather one of the works through which Beethoven freed himself from the depression into which he had fallen after renouncing his "Immortal Beloved". © BIS Records
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Classical - Released September 3, 2021 | BIS

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That Baïlèro, a shepherd’s song from the highlands of Auvergne sung in the Occitan dialect of the area, should become a favourite with singers ranging from Victoria de los Angeles to Sarah Brightman by way of Renée Fleming and Karita Mattila, is all because of Marie-Joseph Canteloube de Malaret. As a budding composer in Paris in the 1900s, Canteloube was unable to interest himself in the various musical cliques and currents. Instead he looked for inspiration in Auvergne in central France where he was born, starting to collect the songs of the farmers and shepherds that lived in the mountainous region. But he did so as a composer rather than a musicologist, and between 1923 and 1954 he published a total of thirty Chants d’Auvergne, arranged, harmonized and sumptuously orchestrated. The result is, one might say, idealized folk music: Canteloube largely respects the melodic line of the originals, but adds instrumental introductions, interludes and postludes, and gives an important role to the woodwind section. For the present recording, Carolyn Sampson and Pascal Rophé have selected 25 of the songs – ranging from love songs and lullabies to working songs and laments. They perform them together with Tapiola Sinfonietta, bringing sparkle to Canteloube's luxurious scores halfway between the impressionism of Debussy and the bucolic lyricism of d'Indy. © BIS Records
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Classical - Released September 3, 2021 | BIS

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The present album is the second of two recorded by the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège and Jean-Jacques Kantorow to commemorate the centenary of the death of Camille Saint-Saëns. On the first instalment the team offered us deeply impressive performances in stunning sound of the composer’s First and Second Symphonies and the unnumbered Symphony in A major, but now the time has come for Saint-Saëns’ crowning glory in the symphonic genre: his Symphony No. 3 in C minor, generally known as the "Organ Symphony". The work was composed in 1886, and Saint-Saëns had planned to dedicate it to Liszt but the latter’s death the same year caused the dedication in the published score to be modified to "in memory of Franz Liszt". It is written for a larger orchestra than his previous symphonies, with the unusual addition of a piano and an organ – the two instruments that Liszt (and Saint-Saëns himself) favoured. Without being a virtuoso vehicle, the organ part is central to the work – especially in the grandiose ending – and it is here performed by the renowned organist Thierry Escaich, playing the great organ of Liège’s Salle Philharmonique. Here the symphony is preceded by the "Urbs Roma" Symphony, composed in 1856 by a 21-year-old Saint-Saëns. It was written for a competition, and its title – "the city of Rome" – was one of the subjects prescribed by the organisers. In the absence of an explanation by the composer, it is unclear how the music relates to the subject. Another enigma is why Saint-Saëns omitted the symphony from his catalogue of works, even though it actually won him a first prize. In consequence, "Urbs Roma" remained unpublished until 1974 and is rarely heard even today. © BIS Records
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Classical - Released September 3, 2021 | BIS

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Composed in 1982, Arvo Pärt’s Passio has retained its place as one of the foremost works of sacred music of the late 20th century. It has been called a minimalist masterpiece, and is a seminal work in the composer’s oeuvre – the culmination of his so-called tintinnabuli style, and the first in a line of large-scale choral works on religious themes. Passion settings have a long history, with polyphonic settings for choral performance beginning in the 15th century and continuing up until the high baroque and the monumental works by Johann Sebastian Bach. In his Passion, Pärt looks back to an older tradition, however – the medieval one of a single voice chanting the text. As a result, the narrative – chapters 18 and 19 of the Gospel of St. John – becomes the basis for sustained spiritual contemplation rather than the drama of Bach’s Passions. Another important distinction from earlier Passion settings is Pärt’s treatment of the Evangelist, who narrates the story. Rather than a single voice, he employs a quartet: soprano, alto, tenor and bass, accompanied by an ensemble of four instruments. The only other instrument used in the work is the organ, again in contrast to the larger instrumental forces of the Bach Passions. This contemplative work is here performed by the Helsinki Chamber Choir under Nils Schweckendiek. © BIS Records
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Classical - Released September 3, 2021 | BIS

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Celebrating the 130th anniversary of Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953), the present box set brings together recordings of his seven symphonies made by Andrew Litton and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra between 2012 and 2017. Released on separate discs, the series has received acclaim from international reviewers, variously highlighting the orchestra ("Bergen Philharmonic plays gorgeously…", ClassicsToday.com), the conductor ("It is clear that Litton has a deep understanding of Prokofiev's complex, protean style …", MusicWeb-International) and the recordings themselves ("BIS's blockbuster sound…", Fanfare). The symphonies appear with their original couplings, including the popular suites from the film score to Lieutenant Kijé and the ballet The Love for Three Oranges. As an added bonus, the set includes the team’s very first recording for BIS: an innovative and highly praised version of Prokofiev’s three suites from Romeo and Juliet, with the 20 movements reordered to follow the ballet score. © BIS Records
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Classical - Released September 3, 2021 | BIS

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On "Remembering", the Danish cellist Jakob Kullberg continues his collaborations with two of the foremost Nordic composers: Per Nørgård and Kaija Saariaho. Praised internationally for his performances of the modern cello concerto, Kullberg regards the concerto form as the encounter of an individual soloist with the sound world of a composer. With living composers this approach often results in an unusual degree of collaboration, as the works gathered here bear witness to. Since 1999, Kullberg has enjoyed a close and unique partnership with Nørgård which has resulted in a large number of works. Between, the opening work hails from a time before this, but Nørgård’s viola concerto Remembering Child in its version for the cello is very much an example of Kullberg’s process. He has not only transferred the concerto to his own instruments, but has also – in consultation with the composer – written his own cadenza as well as added details to the score. Likewise, at a climactic point exactly halfway through Saariaho’s concerto Notes on Light, Kullberg creates an expressive space of his own, with a two-minute cadenza he has composed himself. In this work, as well as in Nørgård’s Between, Kullberg is supported by the BBC Philharmonic, with Sinfonia Varsovia appearing in the closing concerto. © BIS Records
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Classical - Released August 6, 2021 | BIS

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After appearing on a quartet of very different BIS releases, ranging from early baroque arias to orchestral songs by Alban Berg and Mahler’s "Resurrection Symphony", the British soprano Ruby Hughes has devised a song recital, together with her regular Lieder partner Joseph Middleton. The process began in 2018 when the two gave the world première of Helen Grime’s Bright Travellers, a set of five poems charting the interior and exterior worlds of pregnancy and motherhood. Ruby Hughes soon set about planning a programme which would converge with Grime’s music and the themes of new life and of love in all its aspects. The recital is bookended by two song cycles by Gustav Mahler which explore love, grief, loss and reconciliation through quite different lenses. In the opening cycle we experience Mahler as solitary wayfarer and hear of unrequited love. In Kindertotenlieder, the second cycle, the poet Friedrich Rückert pours out his pain as a grieving father in songs about the beauty and innocence of children. Completing the programme is Charles Ives – described by Ruby Hughes as Mahler’s "musical kindred spirit" – with a selection of love songs, prayers and lullabies. © BIS Records
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Classical - Released August 6, 2021 | BIS

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The piano works by Isaac Albéniz range from indisputable masterpieces to ravishing salon music, the composer painting with bright Spanish colours as well as the hues of Classicism and Romanticism. On nine discs, originally released between 1998 and 2017 and gathered here, Miguel Baselga guides listeners through the music of his compatriot, earning acclaim from reviewers worldwide. Composed between December 1905 and January 1908, only a year before the death of Albéniz, Ibéria is the crowning achievement of the composer’s genius. Marking a high point of the post-romantic piano literature, this collection of "12 nouvelles impressions" was to serve as an endless source of inspiration for other composers throughout the twentieth century, admired by Debussy and Messiaen, who called it "the marvel of the piano". Baselga’s exhaustive series places Ibéria in its proper context, and with the assistance of Albéniz scholar Jacinto Torres, he has been able to access original editions and scores, including rarities such as the Marcha militar by a nine-year-old Albéniz and the composer's two scores for piano and orchestra. We are also given the opportunity to hear three improvisations, transcribed from a phonograph recording made by the composer in 1903. © BIS Records
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Chamber Music - Released August 6, 2021 | BIS

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Previous releases from the New York-based Escher Quartet include an acclaimed set of Mendelsohn’s six String Quartets as well as an album with works by Dvořák, Tchaikovsky and Borodin. For their latest offering the members have looked closer to home, however, choosing to combine the quartets by Samuel Barber and Charles Ives. The recording opens with Barber’s String Quartet in B minor, containing the music for which the composer remains best-known: the second movement which he two years later expanded into Adagio for Strings. Recognizing its potential already while composing it, Barber described the piece as "a knock-out" – which made it all the more difficult to come up with a third movement worthy to follow it. In the end he decided to make the quartet a two-movement work, but the Eschers have here included the lively third movement that the composer discarded, offering the opportunity to hear the work as it was once planned. Barber is followed by the two full-scale quartets by Charles Ives, as well as a brief Scherzo. Like many other compositions by Ives, his First Quartet makes extensive use of revival and gospel hymns, quoting them in all four movements in a highly accessible tonal idiom. Far more challenging, the Second Quartet is a portrayal of "four men / who converse, discuss, argue ... fight, shake hands, shut up / then walk up the mountainside to view the firmament" – a programme which invites a liberal use of dissonance, but also – towards the end – a particularly fulfilling resolution. © BIS Records
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Tango - Released August 6, 2021 | BIS

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From the moment Karen Gomyo first heard Astor Piazzolla, at the age of fourteen, she was spellbound: "I had never heard such a combination of sensuality, fierceness, playfulness, sadness and nostalgia". As a violinist she found the role of the violin in Piazzolla’s music especially inspiring, and soon started playing it herself – first in various group combinations, and eventually together with Piazzolla’s longtime pianist Pablo Ziegler and his Tango Quartet. For the present recording she has chosen to record strings-only versions of three works originally for tango quintet (Seasons), guitar and flute (Histoire du Tango), and solo flute (Études). Piazzolla’s Cuatro Estaciones were initially conceived neither as a suite nor as a tribute to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Verano porteño ("Summer") was composed first, as part of the incidental music for a play, with the other three following several years later. If The Seasons provide a soundtrack to the year as it unfolds in Buenos Aires, Histoire du Tango describes the development of the tango itself in four chapters – from the brothels around year 1900 to the concert halls where Piazzolla himself performed his "tango nuevo". These two works frame three of Piazzolla’s Tango Études, which Karen Gomyo performs solo, while otherwise being partnered by the strings of the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire (Seasons) and the guitarist Stephanie Jones (Histoire du Tango). © BIS Records
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Classical - Released August 6, 2021 | BIS

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Following a visit to Wagner in Bayreuth in 1873, Anton Bruckner dedicated his most recent symphony, No. 3 in D minor, to "the unattainable world-famous noble master of poetry and music", and would later refer to the work as his "Wagner Symphony". Among Bruckner’s symphonies, it is the one with the most complicated genesis: the first version was followed by substantial revisions and it exists in two more versions, from 1877/78 and 1888/89. The first version was never performed in Bruckner’s lifetime – in fact, more than a century passed before the work was heard in the form that Wagner first knew and called "a masterpiece". This is the version that Thomas Dausgaard has chosen to perform, as he and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra follow up on their recording of the composer’s Sixth Symphony, praised in "Fanfare" for having "all of Bruckner’s splendor and tenderness without any excess baggage". Dausgaard explains the reason for his choice as follows: "The original version stands as a monolith … what you go through is musically so strong, swinging between timelessness and drive, despair and ecstasy, divine light and hellish fire, that in the end I feel you have to let yourself go and be won over by it". © BIS Records
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Chamber Music - Released July 2, 2021 | BIS

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Pop the champagne corks, for when this French programme is appearing only the year after a fine first volume of Beethoven Trios, it looks very much as though Sitkovetsky Trio are in a new rhythm of regular recordings, following Isang Enders replacing Leonard Elschenbroich as cellist in 2019. Plus, while this isn't the first time an ensemble has thought to pair the Ravel Piano Trio with one of the two Saint-Saëns ones, the Sitkovetsky's performances are properly top-drawer. The Ravel comes first. Composed in 1914 on the eve of the First World War, this work sees him trying to solve the fundamental incompatibility (as he saw it) between the percussive sonority of the piano and the sustained singing voices of stringed instruments. Stylistic inspirations meanwhile include the Basque country of his birth – heard in the first movement's irregular opening rhythm mimicking the region's zortziko dance form – and also eastern musical modes, heard especially in the Pantoum second movement based on a form of Malaysian poetic verse. On to the Sitkovetsky, and the tangy edge to their timbres is a delicious match for the filigree detail of the scoring, while the strings' tonal blending and the breadth of their colouristic palette are producing a constant stream of fresh pleasures. Their reading also stands out for its balancing of faithfulness to the manuscript with a striking impression of freedom. For instance, it goes without saying that the Final is supposed to be a climactic moment, but the degree to which the Sitkovetsky have realised its orchestral width and complexity of sound, and then the free-wheeling, semi-rakish feel they've brought to its brilliant coda, is glorious. It's the sort of performance that only a firmly established, joined-at-the-hip ensemble could pull off. Also the sort of performance for which you need a superlative pianist capable of delivering the virtuosities with sparkle and light-on-the-pedal airy grace, which Wu Qian does with easy aplomb. Penned almost thirty years earlier and considered by Ravel as a successful reconciliation of that aforementioned incompatibility between piano and strings, Saint-Saëns' Trio in E minor has an equally dizzyingly busy piano part that here is equally gracefully, sparklingly rendered by Qian. Then as a whole this is an airily buoyant, equally multi-hued, crisply rhythmic and finesse-filled reading that honours both Saint-Saëns' own time, and his indebtedness to the forms and textures of previous centuries. Listen for instance to the glittering dainty clarity of their final movement fugue, or the success in the first movement with which they flip between lightly dancing lilt to long-lined, ardent, romantic sweep. As I said up top, the back catalogue has other options for Ravel and Saint-Saëns pairings. But I think this one might just have trumped them all. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Classical - Released July 2, 2021 | BIS

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Throughout his career, Ilya Gringolts has devoted himself to performing contemporary music as well as the great concert repertoire, while also developing a keen interest in historical performance practice. The focus of his latest recital recording is therefore quite logical: music of our own time and its inspiration: Johann Sebastian Bach. The album title is "Ciaccona" and besides Bach’s iconic composition, Gringolts plays a further two chaconnes – or three if one counts the Ciacconina which opens Heinz Holliger’s brief cycle, composed for Isabelle Faust in 2014. The Spanish composer Roberto Gerhard wrote his Chaconne using his own take on twelve-tone technique. In his introduction to the album, Gringolts describes its twelve movements as including "everything from chorale to ländler … probably the most Viennese music ever written by a Catalan". The programme closes with Kontrapartita by the French composer Brice Pauset, "a kind of through-the-looking-glass Bach partita" to quote Gringolts once again. Pauset composed his work in 2008 – seven movements, each written with a particular movement from Bach’s Partitas for Solo Violin in mind. For this work (and the interwoven movements by Bach) Gringolts has chosen to use a violin with a baroque setup, finding that the instrument seemed to respond to the "historically informed avant-garde" of the writing. © BIS Records
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Classical - Released July 2, 2021 | BIS

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For the past ten years Rick Stotijn has been making Stockholm his second home, finding musical inspiration as well as new friends there. The present projet is a reflection of this, with existing and new repertoire involving the double bass by composers who have all at some point lived and worked in the city. The oldest work, as well as the best known, is the Concerto for Double Bass by Eduard Tubin, composed in 1948. Stotijn performs it here with the support of his own orchestra, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra under James Gaffigan. The other concerto here was composed especially for Stotijn and for the violinist Malin Broman by Britta Byström. Infinite Rooms (2016) is a double concerto – in which the violinist switches between violin and viola – with inspiration from the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. It was awarded the most important Swedish composition prize, "Stora Christ Johnson-priset", in 2020, and comes with three Walks, potential encores which can also serve as bridges to the next work during the concert, be it by Schubert, Bruckner or Strauss. The orchestra heard in Infinite Rooms is the Västerås Sinfonietta, conducted by Simon Crawford-Phillips, who also appears here in the role of pianist: Jesper Nordin’s Piano Trio, is an adaptation by the composer for these performers, of an earlier score for violin, cello and orchestra. Closing the recording is In memoriam by Carin Malmlöf-Forssling, a brief vocalise for soprano here transcribed for the double bass. © BS Records

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