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Classical - Released March 5, 2021 | NoMadMusic

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After the critical success of her last two solo albums, Célimène Daudet comes back with her most personal project. "Haïti my love" is a passionate declaration to her Caribbean origins through the prism of her music and her little-known classical composers. Lamothe, Elie and Saintonge will know how to surprise you and take you on a musical journey that tells the rhythms, landscapes and colours of the country. Fascinated by Chopin, who influenced him a lot, Ludovic Lamothe was even nicknamed "the Chopin Noir" because of his dreamlike, deeply sensitive and lyrical music. So many unpublished gems just waiting to be shared and known! © nomadmusic
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Classical - Released March 5, 2021 | L'Encelade

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Nostalgia for the Ancien Régime has been growing in recent years among the very rich pool of French and foreign musicians. While music was one of the most important instruments of the power of the absolute monarchy in France, it was also highly appreciated at all levels of the state and aristocracy, starting with the sovereigns themselves. The young Louis XIV was an excellent dancer and also excelled at playing the harpsichord.From this starting point, Fabien Armengaud has built this interesting album. It follows in the footsteps of Étienne Richard, composer, instrumentalist and, subject of this publication. He was also a teacher of the nineteen-year-old king, who, it seems, greatly admired his master. The three Suites by Étienne Richard are flanked here by contemporary pieces from the same manuscript deposited at the Bibliothèque Nationale.This album was played on an Alain Anselm harpsichord, built in 2014 in the spirit of late seventeenth-century French craftsmanship (at 392 Hz and tuned in a meantone temperament). The manuscript also contains a smattering of pieces by Chabanceau de La Barre, Marin Marais, Jacques Hardel, Louis Couperin, Luigi Rossi and some others. Fabien Armengaud sums it up: "To conclude", he writes in the notes of the libretto, "I will not say that Richard is a small or obscure master. The originality of his preludes, the touching poetry of his allemandes, the classically elegant stature of his courantes, the melancholy of his sarabandes, his enigmatic gigue in 4/4, all suggest to me that he was a leading master who is entirely worthy of his place on the Parnassus of the French harpsichord". © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released February 26, 2021 | SFS Media

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These performances by the San Francisco Symphony under its conductor laureate, Michael Tilson Thomas, were recorded at different times, live at San Francisco's Davies Hall, between 2015 and 2018, but they cohere nicely into an all-Berg program that succeeds in immersing the listener into the world of this composer. Berg's Violin Concerto is one of the few 12-tone works that consistently hold the stage, and this is not only because it has tonal elements in the form of Bach quotations but also because its structure is clear. This becomes apparent when it is paired with Berg's early works, on the edge of tonality or freely atonal, which are thorny things; the supposedly difficult 12-tone system here actually comes as a breath of clarity. The performance of the Violin Concerto by Gil Shaham is deliberate and a bit languid, its slow tempos in keeping with the memorial function of the work, but it is in the Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6, that Tilson Thomas really shines, showing his continuing ability to get the orchestra to punch above its weight and tease out the knotted threads of these intense pieces. As an entr'acte, there is soprano Susanna Phillips in Berg's Seven Early Songs, lush evocations of turn-of-the-last-century Vienna that deepen the overall effect of an album that adds to Tilson Thomas' record of accomplishment in retirement and would make a fine introduction to Berg. © TiVo
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Classical - Released February 26, 2021 | Mirare

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Classical - Released February 26, 2021 | NoMadMusic

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Chamber Music - Released February 19, 2021 | Mirare

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Classical - Released February 12, 2021 | Aparté

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Le Concert de la Loge and Julien Chauvin continue the Haydn adventure with the "Paris" Symphonies No. 84 and No. 86. The conductor and his period instruments orchestra complete the programme with the beautiful Stabat Mater, one of Haydn’s most performed ones during his lifetime. Composed in 1767 during the "Sturm and Drang" period, the Stabat Mater’s strikingly sober and plain expression (« Fac me vere tecum flere ») doesn’t exclude some outstanding passages, as in the « Sancta Mater, istud agas ». © Aparté Music
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Opera - Released January 29, 2021 | Academy of Ancient Music

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Academy of Ancient Music, Cambridge Handel Opera Company, Cambridge Early Music and Julian Perkins are proud to present the first professional recording of John Eccles’s Semele (ca 1707), a notable early setting of the great English libretto by William Congreve better known in a version by Georg Friedrich Handel from 1744. Academy of Ancient Music’s mission is to explore, reveal and preserve the great treasure house of baroque and classical music, and a spirit of newfound discovery runs through all our work : Eccles’s Semele is the next step on this journey, released here on a double album with an extensive accompanying full-color booklet containing scholarly essays, Stephen Fry’s modern re-telling of the story, autograph manuscript images of Eccles’ score, the full libretto text and much more. A fascinating insight into how opera in England might have developed after Henry Purcell’s death had not Handel moved to London in 1712, Eccles’s Semele is the perfect addition to any baroque-music lover’s library. © AAM
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Classical - Released January 29, 2021 | Decca (UMO) (Classics)

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Josquin des Prés, who died exactly five centuries ago (1521) in Condé-sur-l'Escaut (in today's Hauts de France region near Valenciennes), is one of the great figures of the Franco-Flemish school and one of the greatest composers in the history of Western music. The reputation of this musician-traveller spread throughout Europe during his lifetime and he was known in Burgundy, France and throughout Italy. He was a member of the Pope's Chapel in Rome, after having assumed offices in Milan and Ferrara in the service of the Sforza family. Widely distributed thanks to the invention of the printing press, his music has survived, in the form of over two hundred and forty works. This album is part of a trilogy of recordings planned by Decca to constitute a portrait of Josquin des Prés according to current practices and knowledge. Recorded in July 2020 by the Stile Antico ensemble, it presents master works: the sublime Messe Pange lingua, with motets and songs, including Vivrai-je tousjours, recorded here for the first time. Coming from the English choral tradition of Oxford and Cambridge, Stile Antico offers us a decanted vision, out of time and stripped of any sensuality, as if to better emphasise the abstraction of Josquin's harmonic research. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 29, 2021 | L'Encelade

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François Couperin’s Suites de violes are his last will and testament in chamber music form and one of the peaks of the repertoire written for the instrument. Together with this highly personal language, Claire Gautrot and Marouan Mankar-Bennis have chosen to combine the Concert royal No. 3 originally intended for the private concerts of the “late King” Louis XIV. Obeying the laws of the art of conversation, the two take it in turns to act as solo and accompanying instrument, with a succession of aristocratic grandeur and pastoral evocations. © L'Encelade
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Chamber Music - Released January 22, 2021 | PentaTone

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"Violins of Hope" presents instruments that were owned by Jewish musicians before and during the Holocaust, representing strength and optimism for the future during mankind’s darkest hour. They have been refurbished by luthiers Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein, founders of the "Violins of Hope" project. On this album, recorded live at Kohl Mansion, the instruments are used to perform two string quartet masterpieces by Schubert and Mendelssohn, alongside a new composition by Jake Heggie, inspired by the violins’ histories. Schubert’s unfinished Quartettsatz is often considered Schubert’s first mature work, and displays a typically Schubertian mix of impetuous agitation and sublime lyricism. Mendelssohn wrote his Quartet in F Minor as a “Requiem” for his deceased sister Fanny, not knowing that – tragically enough – he would follow her fate only two months later, at the age of 38. These two captivating works are performed by Kay Stern, Dawn Harms, Patricia Heller and Emil Miland, who join forces with mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, violinist Daniel Hope and the young violin talent Sean Mori on Heggie’s Intonations. The recording took place in the context of Holocaust Memorial Day 2020. © Pentatone
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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released January 15, 2021 | BR-Klassik

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The British composer Edward Elgar wrote a great deal more than just his Pomp & Circumstance Marches: his highly diverse oeuvre encompasses symphonies, concertos, chamber works, piano music and numerous choral works (oratorios, cantatas and partsongs). On this release, partsongs by Elgar can be heard with and without accompaniment as part of a representative selection of live and studio recordings. The album begins with the song cycle From the Bavarian Highlands, Op. 27; its six cheerful numbers were written while Elgar and his wife were on holiday in Garmisch in 1895. Alice Elgar had sketched verses from Bavarian folk melodies, and Upper Bavarian songs and dances can be heard in her husband’s settings. These were happy memories of carefree holidays in a region rich in music and full of fine landscapes. The Bavarian Radio Chorus, conducted by Howard Arman, sings the songs in their original version with piano accompaniment (the orchestral version came later). As a composer of English-language choral songs, Elgar is still little-known on the European mainland; in the United Kingdom, however, the situation is very different. The country has long had a lively choral scene, focusing primarily on English music – from Purcell and Handel to Hubert Parry, Charles Villiers Stanford and Elgar, all the way to Benjamin Britten and today’s contemporary composers. The program on this release has been compiled and conducted by the Englishman Howard Arman, one of today’s most knowledgeable experts on British choral music and artistic director of the Bavarian Radio Chorus, and these recordings should do much to boost the popularity of this highly appealing music on the European mainland as well. © BR-Klassik
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Chamber Music - Released January 15, 2021 | Gramola Records

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Has any violinist captured the imaginations of ensuing generations to the degree Romanian-American Jascha Heifetz has? Arguably not. So no wonder that there's always a steady trickle of recital releases centred around Heifetz's virtuosic transcriptions of popular tunes, which he used as recital encores (although, fascinatingly, these tend to pop less regularly as actual live recital encores). Still, when most often it's younger generation violinists who are recording this razzle-dazzle repertoire, this programme from Benjamin Schmidt and his pianist wife Ariane Haering – in honour of the 120th anniversary of Heifetz's birth – stands out for being the work of a violinist now in the fourth decade of his performance career. You can hear all the confidence and technical assurance of years, too, right from his first crisply biting notes and firm portamentos in the programme-opening Prokofiev March from The Love for Three Oranges – a piece which overall he delivers big, bold and broad-toned, with a fabulous sweep to its upwards-racing runs. Likewise the rapid pizzicato strumming of the following Banjo and Fiddle by William Kroll. Moving forwards, pieces such as It Ain't Necessarily So play perfectly to Schmid's well-exercised jazz muscles, while also opening up the field to a few equally entertaining modern pieces in the spirit of Heifetz – an arrangement of Mish Mash by Romanian Antoni Donchev, plus two pieces inspired by Duke Ellington by Schmid's fellow Austrian, Sabina Hank. Add the inevitable close musical partnership between Schmid and Haering, and a lively immediacy to the engineering, and all in all it's a thoroughly fun listen. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released January 15, 2021 | Klarthe Records Jazz

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Classical - Released January 8, 2021 | Kairos

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Classical - Released December 4, 2020 | BIS

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By far the largest collection of concert études in the known repertoire, Kaikhosru Sorabji’s set of 100 Transcendental Studies, composed between 1940 and 1944, has a total duration of more than eight hours. On five previous volumes, the Swedish pianist (and neuroscientist) Fredrik Ullén has introduced the first 83 études to a wider audience, the large majority of them recorded for the first time. Now, 15 years after the release of the first volume comes the final instalment, a 2-hour set with the last 17 studies. In his own liner notes, Ullén describes the experience of learning and recording the collection: ‘From the F-sharp minor of Study 1 to the F-sharp minor chord concluding Study 100: traversing Sorabji’s Transcendental Studies has been somewhat like joining a comet following a long eccentric orbit through pianistic outer space, and finally returning back to mother earth’. Most of the studies are typical "concert études" in the sense that they essentially explore a single technical or structural idea. But especially towards the end of the cycle Sorabji includes pieces that are on a much larger scale, a tendency that culminates with the two final études. Quasi fantasia (No. 99) is a hugely expanded elaboration of J.S. Bach’s Chromatic Fantasia and is followed by the almost hour-long Coda-Finale, a quintuple fugue of staggering complexity. Besides the programme notes by Fredrik Ullén, the booklet includes texts by Kenneth Derus and Alistair Hinton who both knew the composer. © BIS Records
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Classical - Released December 4, 2020 | Initiale

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Classical - Released December 1, 2020 | Aeolus

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Classical - Released November 27, 2020 | Naxos

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Classical - Released November 20, 2020 | Profil

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To say that Christian Thielemann's early March 2020 Gurre-Lieder at the Semperoper Dresden didn't take place a moment too soon is something of an understatement, when less than a fortnight later Europe's international-level live music making scene had been reduced to solo recitals self-filmed on mobile phones and posted onto social media. Equally fortuitously, it was recorded live, meaning we can now all listen to this ambitious project with its international line-up that would, had 2020 turned out differently, have received a second airing the following month at the Salzburg Easter Festival. Broad brushstrokes first, and in orchestral terms there's a wonderful transparency to the sound from the Staatskapelle Dresden bolstered by members of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. As for tone colour, think silvery luminosity from the upper strings and woodwind, balanced by warm, rounded richness from the brass and lower strings - it's both luxuriously warm and sharply defined, making for a heavenly Prelude and Zwischenspiel, and full-throttle drama for the conclusion of Part 2. As for the chorus, there's some thrilling singing from the MDR-Rundfunkchor and Staatsopernchor Dresden, and while “Seht die Sonne” would possibly have packed even more of a punch when heard in the hall (they are perhaps slightly further back in the sound than a studio recording might have given us), “Gegrüßt, o König, an Gurre-Seestrand!” is unequivocally edge-of-the-seat stuff. Thielemann's overall architecture is also eminently satisfying, including a notably seamless-feeling transition over the stylistic shift between parts two and three. On to the soloists, and Camilla Nylund's Tove is warm and supple, losing not an iota of its mellow roundedness as she soars up high, with the climax of her “Du sendest mir einen Liebesblick” truly tingle-inducing. Dark-toned Stephen Gould as Waldemar is ardent in love, and especially compelling in despair, always in control of his own high-register leaps. Christa Mayer's Woodtaube is rich-voiced and passionate, and Kwangchul Youn's Bauer ringing and energetic. Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke makes for a colourful and enjoyably semi- raucous Klaus-Narr; and while Franz Grundheber may no longer be in his baritone prime, his voice is deliciously expressive and multicoloured in his sprechstimme Speaker role, and with a flexibility and strength thoroughly belying his eighty-plus years. If this cast ever gets reunited post-Covid then you should beg, borrow or steal a ticket. In the meantime, crank up the volume on this, and revel in it. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz