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Soundscapes

Alexander Ullman

Classique - Verschijnt op 4 februari 2022 | Challenge Classics

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The Tell-Tale Heart

Juliane Banse

Classique - Verschijnt op 4 februari 2022 | Challenge Classics

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Aufgelebt

Nino Gvetadze

Classique - Verschijnt op 4 februari 2022 | Challenge Classics

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Piano Concerto in D Major, Op. 61a: III. Rondo

Nino Gvetadze

Classique - Verschijnt op 28 januari 2022 | Challenge Classics

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Johann Sebastian Bach: The Sonatas for Violin and Cembalo Obbligato Vol. 1

Fabio Bonizzoni

Classique - Verschenen op 14 januari 2022 | Challenge Classics

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Johann Sebastian Bach developed a new style, cembalo obbligato, where the right hand of the keyboard plays as a melody instrument and is given the same importance as the violin, flute or other solo instrument. His sonatas for melody instrument and keyboard instrument include works for flute, violin, and viola da gamba. It seems that the "obbligato style" interested him more than the traditional continuo role for the keyboard. As for the violin, there are two sonatas written with basso continuo and six with harpsichord obbligato. Among these works, the six sonatas in particular were conceived as a set, with a consistent style and a well-considered key distribution. This set is one of the highlights in the catalog of Bach’s chamber music. Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach writes to Bach’s first biographer, Johann Nikolaus Forkel, in 1774: “The 6 clavier [and violin] trios... are amongst the best works of my dearly beloved father. Even now they sound very good and give me many delights, regardless of the fact that they are over fifty years old”. The key distribution is somewhat symmetric and this suggests that Bach intended these as a set of pieces for violin, comparable to his unaccompanied sonatas and partitas for violin. Additionally, with the exception of Sonata No. 6, this set of works all follow the church sonata style. © Challenge Records
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Hello Darkness

Jan Philip Schulze

Classique - Verschenen op 14 januari 2022 | Challenge Classics

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Dedicating a recording to the dark side of the "Lied" might seem inappropriate in these times of Covid, climate change and refugee crises, but as a mezzo-soprano Olivia has always been drawn to the darker roles in opera, the sad arias in oratorio and the deep laments in song. After our recent recording ("Dirty Minds"), which focused on "la petite mort", it seemed a natural progression to turn our attention to "la grande mort"! Darkness in the outside world and the inner self has always been – alongside Love – one of the chief themes of vocal music, and compositions and songs about death are legion during every period of musical history. The music on this recording is extremely diverse and Olivia Vermeulen as Jan Philip Schulze relished the idea of programming songs from different centuries in different styles and genres. They begin with a collection of songs about melancholia, inner abysses, longing for death and murderous lust. But the programme is also rich in songs about comfort and hope, light instead of despair – with lashings of black humour! Composers down the ages have used innovative approaches to render the theme of death. Chromaticism is used tellingly by Monteverdi and Schubert. Duparc’s sensuous Extase (1878), is nothing short of a miniature "Liebestod". Korngold and Wolfgang Rihm play with translucent semitone sighs, Schumann’s Nachtlied is characterized by hovering harmonies; Strauss and Korngold use late-romantic opulence; while tonality with Charles Ives and Alban Berg begins to lose its hold - Berg indeed abandons tonality entirely. John Cage goes a step further and directs the pianist to drum the notes on the lid of a completely closed piano. Randy Newman’s In Germany before the war is wreathed in mystery, etyc. A captivating recording. © Challenge Records
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Six Sonatas for Violin, Cello and Violone

Matteo Cicchitti

Classique - Verschenen op 14 januari 2022 | Challenge Classics

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The path traced on this recording, with music by Georg Christoph Wagenseil (1715-1777), and on following ones has the undoubted merit of introducing us to some composers considered “minor” compared to Haydn and Mozart. They were not only very active and influential on the musical life of that time; they also created a considerable amount of quality music, which deserves to be rediscovered and appreciated. In a historical-musical perspective, the music of these less famous authors helps to reconstruct the passage between the decline of the Baroque, towards the middle of the eighteenth century, and the noon of the classical style. A period that we often classify as "pre-classical" or "galant" or "early Viennese school". This praiseworthy cultural operation, aimed at rediscovering not only “minor” composers but also certain genres considered “domestic” music allows us to better understand how the “musical landscape” looked like, especially in Vienna. Domestic music responded to the desire for cultured entertainment not only for the aristocracy but also for the rising bourgeois class; and as such, it constituted an indubitable status symbol. The six Sonatas in trio here, dating from around the 1750s, can be ascribed to the genre of "divertimento": before 1780 the term was all-encompassing, and included all non-orchestral instrumental music, including sonatas and quartets. Above all, the idea of “musical conversation”, or dialogue or discourse between the different instruments, is very present in this type of composition, in which a pleasant and well-regulated lounge conversation is simulated and sublimated with just the notes. The collection of Six Sonatas should be placed among the first chamber documents for three independent strings, without the support of a keyboard instrument for the realization of the continuo. The instrumental ensemble in these Sonatas almost reflects the vocal pattern of a trio between soprano, tenor, and bass, where the two upper voices interweave a duet, and the low one sustains, controls, points out, intervening here and there with short cues. In general, in these “divertimenti-sonatas” there is a sure hand in managing the polyphonic dialogic interweaving as well as the shape of the form, mixed with a pretty good standard of melodic invention, always inserted in a rigorous and at the same time smooth structure. Studies on performance practice have shown that in Viennese and Austrian circles the use of the violone as “bass” was very frequent, at least up to a certain date. Joseph Haydn himself indicated only “Violone” in his scores until 1772. The violone in this epoch was considered the “true” bass of the string family. The three instruments are always well identified, and you can always grasp the individual lines: the main melody as well as the embroidery, the foreground as well as the background. © Challenge Records
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Chamber Music in the Abbey of St. Florian

Ars Antiqua Austria

Classique - Verschenen op 7 januari 2022 | Challenge Classics

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Franz Josef Aumann was born in the Austrian town of Traismauer in 1728 and studied music in Vienna, where he came across many important musicians of his time. It has not yet been established why in 1753 he relocated to Sankt Florian. He must have been unusually talented, as two years later he became Regens chori, one year before his ordination to the priesthood. From that point he remained in the service of the monastery until his death in 1797. He composed “entertainment” music of the highest quality – pieces that were played for the amusement of invited guests, on special occasions, or simply between the various courses of lavish banquets. In the archives of St. Florian Monastery not many chamber works have survived – only a handful, but these are of outstanding quality. The quintets are remarkable. Here the master develops a particular style of chamber music: two violins are juxtaposed with two violas. Both groups of instruments have equal status and enter into a lively discourse. Aumann mastered all the compositional techniques of his time. It can be observed a particular preference for melodic lines reminiscent of the folk music that was practised in the region. By contrast, the musicians of this recording have added the Cassatio in D, where the radiant sound of a flautello bestows a special aura upon the music. In the concluding Parthia in C, trumpets symbolise the divinity or a high social position. Aumann must have been extremely innovative, not worrying too much about any rules within his environment. © Challenge Records
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Listen Before I Go

Olivia Vermeulen

Pop - Verschenen op 10 december 2021 | Challenge Classics

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Sonata No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1014: I. Adagio

Fabio Bonizzoni

Classique - Verschenen op 3 december 2021 | Challenge Classics

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String Quartet No. 2, Op. 26 | String Quartet No. 3, Op. 34

Alma Quartet

Classique - Verschenen op 5 november 2021 | Challenge Classics

Booklet
There’s a compelling, sepia-toned puckish air to the opening of Korngold’s String Quartet No. 2 under the fingers of the Alma Quartet. Instantly you’re in old-world Vienna, in the hands of this young composer prodigy whose language was both steeped in his city’s string quartet heritage, and carrying a high romance that would make him an instant hit in Hollywood, to where he would flee just the following year as Hitler rose to power. Add a notably high-definition delivery – think airy textures and attractively dryly clipped articulation – and it’s a high-impact entry to what is also a direct-to-disc recording on vinyl, i.e. a single take rather than a digitally edited amalgam of the best of several takes; and certainly there’s a live frisson about the resultant vividly captured sound. The other quality you’re instantly clocking, as already hinted, is the sheer characterfulness of the playing. In fact it’s almost as if the quartet’s movements are actually character pieces, and this in turn is due to the quartet’s perhaps controversial decision not to be complete slaves to the score’s tempi and articulation markings, but instead to experiment between “what was written down and what felt right” in order to best understand Korngold’s idiom. You really hear the fruits of that in the following perky Intermezzo, whose exaggerated accents and rubato ring with Haydn-esque humour. The Third Quartet of 1945 is a much darker work, full of the wartime context and his own depression as it is of themes he used in his film scores, and this has been highly effectively brought out. Especially moving here is the slow third movement with its instruction to be played like a folk song, the Alma often bringing a shimmering vocal quality to its elegiac lyricism. Fascinating and enjoyable in equal measure. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Amanti - Cantatas for Bass

Sergio Foresti

Classique - Verschenen op 5 november 2021 | Challenge Classics

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In the Italian society of the early eighteenth century, the musical genre of the chamber cantata was popular as a refined form of entertainment. The chamber cantata is a relatively short composition, consisting of a couple of arias with the addition of one or two recitatives. They were performed in the private ambiances of the noble circles. A performance just needed the instruments of the basso continuo (harpsichord, cello, and if wanted for example a lute) and of course an excellent voice. The Venetian composer Benedetto Marcello (1686-1737) was one of the most prolific composers of the genre, especially in his early years between 1710 and 1720. He wrote approximately 300 cantatas of which over 20 for the bass voice. This is an exceptionally high number. The composer strived to achieve a perfect harmony between poetry and music. As such, his cantatas were an invaluable laboratory for his famous Psalms. These were admired by great composers like Rossini, Bizet, Verdi, and Chopin. Verdi especially appreciated Marcello's recitatives. The present recording offers five chamber cantatas of Marcello for the bass voice. All the cantatas of this recording are in RARA form (Recitative-Aria-Recitative-Aria) and the arias regularly have the da capo form. The recitatives are often unpredictable in their harmonic solutions. Like most of Marcello's Cantatas, they treat the subject of love. But the lovers are not happy. They struggle with the all too human complexity of love: feelings of rejection, sadness, jealousy, hope, and mourning. Their thoughts and feelings are intended to stimulate personal reflection.
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Love's Spring

Gerold Huber

Classique - Verschenen op 5 november 2021 | Challenge Classics

Booklet
The album you have here is the culmination of a long-cherished desire for Raoul Steffani – a programme devoted to both Robert and Clara Schumann and the musical dialogue that blossomed between them during the early years of their married life, through their poems and song compositions. Raoul Steffani is absolutely delighted and grateful for the opportunity to record this programme along with a selection of Robert Schumann’s most beautiful duets, in a truly luxurious pairing with mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená and his regular piano accompanist Gerold Huber. © Challenge Classics
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Bruckner No. 7

Bernard Haitink

Classique - Verschenen op 8 oktober 2021 | Challenge Classics

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Bernard Haitink was born and educated in Amsterdam. His conducting career began at the Netherlands Radio where in 1957 he became the Chief Conductor of the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. The links between Bernard Haitink and the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra have withstood the test of time, even when his career was taking him all over the world. One fine example of this was Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust in 1998, later issued on Challenge Classics. He returned on 15 June 2019, when he gave his very last concert in Amsterdam, with Bruckner's Symphony No. 7, a work that has always been especilly dear to him. © Challenge Classics
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Famous Cantatas Vol. 1

Johann Sebastian Bach

Classique - Verschenen op 8 oktober 2021 | Challenge Classics

The first volume in a series devoted to Bach's famous Cantatas with Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir. The project is chronologically structured, so this first volume includes Cantatas composed at Mulhausen in the years 1707 and 1708. It contains four great and well-known masterpieces which convey the mastery and maturity of the young Bach, aged 22 at that time. Bach's sacred music written before he went to Leipzig, including all the works from the Weimar period, are often lumped together as "early" cantatas. This is misleading and ultimately inaccurate, since Bach was already 38 years old when he moved from his post as Kapellmeister at Kothen in 1723 to take up his duties as Kantor at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. In fact most of Bach's church cantatas date from the Leipzig years, as does the consolidation of the stylistic, structural and technical features of his vocal works, but even the repertoire composed before 1714 can hardly be termed "early". The works composed at Mühlhausen, demonstrating a striking sureness of touch in their conception, placed the 22-year-old among the finest contemporary cantata composers. Bach's earliest church cantatas are still clearly marked by 17th-century traditions. As well as the influences of older members of the Bach family, those of Buxtehude and Pachelbel the Elder, and Italian and French masters are evident, technically, structurally and stylistically. A particularly characteristic feature of the pre-Leipzig cantatas is Bach's exceptional delight in experimental and complex handling of an extremely wide range of instruments, with refined sound effects (such as the use of the bassoon) and poly- and homophonic settings and forms. © Challenge Records
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W.A. Mozart: Piano Sonatas Arranged for Guitar Duo

Duo Morat-Fergo

Classique - Verschenen op 8 oktober 2021 | Challenge Classics

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"Although being technically very different instruments, we are convinced that the romantic guitar and the fortepiano share the same aesthetics. This was proven to us for the first time when we finally recorded our Schubert album "A Sentimental Moment" in 2018, with piano works arranged for our Viennese guitars. After this, it was natural for us to turn to a composer who has fired more interest than anyone else: Mozart. We do hope that these arrangements of Mozart’s piano sonatas can suggest how he might have expressed his genius on our instrument. The shorter duration of the notes, as well as the delicacy and richness of colours found in the sound world of the guitar, are quite close to those of the late 18th Century fortepianos that Mozart would have known, while the dynamic range of the guitar would be very much at home in the salons and smaller concert venues of that time. Listening to the sonatas played on two guitars might be exotic, but the plucked sound fits in with the family of keyboard instruments". (Christian Fergo and Raoul Morat) The Swiss-Danish guitar duo Morat-Fergo was founded by classical guitarists Raoul Morat and Christian Fergo in 2014. They studied together at the music academy of Lucerne with German Echo-Prize winner Frank Bungarten. In just a few short years they have created a new repertoire of romantic music through their arrangements for guitar duo and established themselves as one of the most exceptional guitar duos to emerge in recent years. Their mutual captivation of Franz Schubert’s music inspired them to start the duo to perform the masterpieces by the Austrian composer. The duo’s arrangement of Schubert’s Moments Musicaux, Op. 94 reveals new sound aspects and interpretative shades to the music. In January 2015 they premiered the work in Lucerne, which prompted an outstanding reception. Elisabeth Leonskaja commented after hearing the duo: "Recently I experienced a magical moment of music. Two fine musicians – Christian Fergo and Raoul Morat – playing Schubert on two guitars. I felt transformed back to the time of Schubert and thought I was hearing pianos from his epoch. A moment full of magical sounds". To explore the original sound of the nineteenth century in greater depth, the duo plays copies of romantic Viennese guitars from the time of Schubert. Their high artistic level combined with strong individual musical personalities has proven to be an exciting combination. Christian and Raoul have performed both as a duo and as soloists in many countries. The duo’s own arrangement of Schubert’s monumental song cycle Winterreise for voice and guitar duo was premiered with German tenor Julian Prégardien to great acclaim in February 2016. © Challenge Classics
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Goldberg Variations

Hannes Minnaar

Classique - Verschenen op 24 september 2021 | Challenge Classics

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Extasis

Daniel Rowland

Classique - Verschenen op 24 september 2021 | Challenge Classics

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Quelques Mots D'amour

Philippe Elan

Pop - Verschenen op 24 september 2021 | Challenge Classics

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Adios Nonino (Digital Single)

Daniel Rowland

Classique - Verschenen op 10 september 2021 | Challenge Classics

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