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Chamber Music - Released April 30, 2021 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Diapason d'or / Arte
Constantly shifting from the most impulsive exuberance to the most restrained meditation, from the most intense passion to the most innocent tenderness, this programme forms a representative panorama of Schumann’s chamber music. Going beyond the Piano Trios, which already give us a fully rounded account of Schumann, the Trio Wanderer have invited their favourite partners to join them for their interpretation of two supreme masterpieces, the Piano Quartet and Piano Quintet. © harmonia mundi
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Classical - Released April 23, 2021 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
«Clearly Bruckner’s music is like the wind that bloweth where it listeth in a world far removed from capitals and concert halls. The music that Bruckner wrote was not chic and sophisticated but elemental, radical and uncompromising. In spite of all its art, there is a powerful affinity with nature, with the mysticism of nature and with a sense of autochthonous earthiness, notably in Bruckner’s dance movements: as Thielemann says, Bruckner is no poseur; his music is never pretentious. There is a closeness, finally, with the open countryside, with an endless expanse, with extended journeys and with slowness.» (© Wolfgang Stähr / Sony Classical)
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Classical - Released April 16, 2021 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released April 9, 2021 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Alessandro Scarlatti’s Sonate a quattro were published in 1725, the year of his death. With their specific marking "senza cembalo" (without harpsichord), these compositions for two violins, viola and cello appear to be, in a sense, the first string quartets in the modern sense of the term. The programme is completed by a few sonatas by his brother Francesco, the "London Scarlatti", and Alessandro’s son Domenico, who had so thoroughly absorbed the contrapuntal tradition instilled in him by his father that some of his sonatas can also be played in quartet formation. (© Ricercar)
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Classical - Released April 2, 2021 | Arcana

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Chamber Music - Released April 2, 2021 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
«The five sonatas featured on this recording have never been ignored in a little more than 80 years of an incredibly rich musical history. They played a not inconsiderable role in the emancipation of wind instruments starting in the early 1950s. At a time when great virtuosos, notably in France, were embarking on prestigious solo careers and programming instrumental recitals, the sonatas of Hindemith assumed a prime position straight away, both in the concert hall and the recording studio. A place they have always maintained!» (© 2021 Parlophone Records / Denis Verroust)
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Classical - Released March 19, 2021 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
«Between the publication of the Second Book in 1701 and that of the Third Book, ten years went by, during which Marais established himself as a composer of "tragédies lyriques". In the meantime, however, a number of young viol players, some of whom had been his pupils, had just published their first collections of pièces de viole. Marais therefore had to reaffirm his position as the reigning master of the genre, a mission accomplished to perfection with this new opus, in which he strove to offer his public easier pieces alongside others that of a more demanding nature, in order to ‘satisfy those who are more advanced upon the viol’. His style had changed too: here, character pieces form an increasingly important complement to the traditional suites.» (© Ricercar)
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Classical - Released March 19, 2021 | Ramée

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Königsberg in East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia) was a rare haven of peace during the Thirty Years’ War thanks to its geographical location. Many people, including artists and musicians, fled there from the horrors of plague and war. Heinrich Albert, a pupil of Heinrich Schütz (his cousin) and Johann Hermann Schein, the Thomaskantor in Leipzig, was appointed cathedral organist in the city in 1630. His garden hut, overgrown with pumpkin vines and suitably dubbed the ‘pumpkin hut’ (Kürbishütte), became the meeting place of the Königsberg Circle of Poets: a refuge and a space for cutting-edge creativity, spared from direct involvement in the war. Five musical tableaux, depicting different stages in the war, take the listener on an emotional journey and reflect the everyday emotions people of the period experienced: hope, fear, a longing for peace – but also despair and wrestling with faith in the face of the devastation of war. © Ramée
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Classical - Released March 12, 2021 | ECM New Series

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
The third volume of the Danish String Quartet's ongoing "Prism" series, which shows how the radiance of Bach's Fugues is refracted through Beethoven's Quartets to illuminate the work of later composers. "Beethoven had taken a fundamentally linear development from Bach", the Danes note, "and exploded everything into myriads of different colours, directions and opportunities, much in the same way as a prism splits a beam of light". Here the quartet follow the beam from Johann Sebastian Bach's Fugue in C-sharp minor through Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quartet No. 14 to Bela Bartok's String Quartet No. 1. "A revelatory connected soundscape in which Beethoven's introspection feels more unsettling than usual" (BBC Music Magazine, on Prism II) © ECM New Series
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Classical - Released February 26, 2021 | Flora

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Buxtehude’s Opus 1 and Opus 2 Sonatas for violin, viola da gamba and harpsichord belie the composer’s common image as austere and sober. They instead delight the listener with what Johann Mattheson, writing in 1739, called their « unfamilar progressions, hidden ornamentation, and ingenious colourations ». It comes as no surprise to learn that the Sonatas were a great success when they were first published in Germany in the 1690s, in the midst of the fashion for the "stylus fantasticus" (described by Athanasius Kircher in 1650 as “…especially suited to instruments. It is the most free and unrestrained method of composing, it is bound to nothing, neither to any words nor to a melodic subject. It was instituted to display genius, and to teach the hidden design of harmony and the ingenious composition of harmonic phrases and fugues"). These Sonatas are undoubtedly challenging, which is no doubt why there have been so few complete recordings. For their fourth album, the founding trio of Les Timbres – Yoko Kawakubo, Myriam Rignol, and Julien Wolfs – take up the challenge with brio, joyously returning to their roots in Baroque chamber music to uncover all the intricacies of these very special works. © Flora
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Chamber Music - Released February 26, 2021 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released February 19, 2021 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Distinctions Diapason d'or
For his new recital published on the Decca label, Benjamin Grosvenor has chosen Franz Liszt, whose music has followed him since his childhood thanks to his grandfather's initiation. Dedicated to the pianistic monument that is the Sonata in B minor, the English pianist's programme aims to bear witness to the various aspects underlying the Hungarian composer's creation with emblematic compositions (Petrarch's Three Sonnets), original ones (Lullaby), as well as the extraordinary power of re-creation that Liszt distilled in his paraphrases; here we find the Reminiscences of Norma after Bellini and his arrangement of Schubert's Ave Maria.Every concert and every recording of Grosvenor's music is long awaited and desired, so rich is his personality and his extraordinary pianistic mastery. His recent album devoted to the Frédéric Chopin Concertos confirmed the pre-eminence of this pianist within a well-to-do brotherhood.His vision of the famous Liszt Sonata is immediately among the most inspired. Like a bird of prey, Grosvenor knows how to wait for the right moment to pounce on the chords with diabolical precision and contained rage, in a dramatic Mephistophelian tension. At the same time, the fluidity of his piano opens the door to the twentieth century and particularly to Ravel's world so dependent on the Liszt lesson. It is known that Brahms had fallen asleep when Liszt played his Sonata to him after a probably drunken dinner. Nothing probable here with this powerful evocation of life and death. Magisterial! © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released February 19, 2021 | Ramée

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Johann Sebastian Bach never intended to compose flute sonatas or partitas in sets of 6 or 12, as was customary at the time (and as he himself did for violin, cello and harpsichord). Bach's flute sonatas evolved over a roughly 30-year period between ca. 1717–1747 as he encountered the different types of flute in fashion at the time, and met several greatly skilled flautists. The question of which flautist and flute makers Bach may have known played a decisive role in choosing the programme on this recording. In preparation, Frank Theuns compared and assessed the playing qualities of various early eighteenth-century flute types. Eventually, he decided on a copy of a flute made by Pierre-Gabriel Buffardin. The balanced, brilliant, Italianate sound of this instrument was a perfect match for the demands of this repertoire. As well as being an unequalled flautist and an accomplished composer, Buffardin was also a renowned flute maker whom Bach may have met in Dresden in 1717. © Ramée
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Classical - Released February 12, 2021 | Audax Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Johann Sebastian Bach excelled as a player on several instruments, but the lute was not one of them. Even today, this renders his works for solo lute unique in the instrument’s vast repertoire where playing the lute has otherwise been a prerequistite to composing for it. As such, they pose unique challenges and dilemmas for players who want to present this music in the best light. Inspired by his teacher, Rolf Lislevand, Jadran Duncumb eschews the well-thumbed pages of Bach’s own manuscripts and sets out on a different path. Instead, following manuscripts by lutenists contemporary with Bach that take advantage of the instrument’s inherent strengths, he arrives at startling new conclusions. © Audax Records
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Classical - Released February 12, 2021 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
To our modern minds, the idea of not holding on tightly to one's own intellectual property is a complete anathema. By the same turn, artistic works that can't be indisputably attributed to a single named creator are mysteries to be solved rather than accepted. However, while plagiarism was beginning to become a concept during the seventeenth century, an artist was still only likely to see it as an important issue if they were planning to publish their works for commercial gain. If not, and if they were part of a collaborative family musical dynasty, it was much less of a thing to get hot under the collar about. Apply that background now to the Bauyn manuscript – one of the most important sources for French 17th century harpsichord music – and you begin to understand how some of the greatest jewels are, rather frustratingly, attributable to a single “Monsieur Couperin”, rather than to one of the three Couperin brothers operating in that period: Louis (1626-1661), François I (1631-1710) and Charles (1638-1679) whose son was the famous François Couperin. Because while these works have mostly been attributed to the one with the most glittering career as a harpsichordist, Louis, more recent research suggests he's not a good match for every piece. Instead, they're more likely to be a mixture of Louis and Charles, with perhaps the odd piece from the slightly less gifted François I. Hence the title of this Couperin-shaped offering from Brice Sailly, recorded in May 2020 at the Château de Mongeroult on a copy of a Tibaut de Toulouse harpsichord. This programme's scholarly contribution lies less in making hard and fast pronouncements on authorship, and more in drawing our attentions to the fact that the programme's pieces are likely to be the work of more than one Couperin; all while employing the numbering given to them in Bruce Gustavson's edition of the Bauyn manuscript. All of which may sound rather academic to the average listener, but it's interesting the extent to which awareness of that context does add to the listening experience. Plus, it's good news when it comes to how it actually sounds. For starters, the overall capturing is lovely, giving us a nice, up-close and natural, but also polished sound. Then Sailly's readings themselves are thoroughly ear-grabbing, with the fluidity of his shapings and the range of his expression. From the gossamer-weighted high-register wistfulness of La Pastourelle, to the dark, sighing beauty of the Pavane in F-sharp minor with its fuller textures, to the bright ceremonial grandeur of La Piétmontoise, this should appeal whether you're new to this repertoire, or simply wishing to hear it with new ears. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Classical - Released February 5, 2021 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
The facts of Carlo Gesualdo's life are perhaps as well known as his music: he caught his wife and her lover in the act, brutally murdered them both, fled her enraged family, and entered a life of seclusion where he pursued increasingly arcane and extreme musical experiments. A source of controversy with the present release may be that Les Arts Florissants director Paul Agnew argues in the booklet that the wildly experimental qualities of the last books of Gesualdo's madrigals, even found in the Book IV pieces included here, actually shouldn't be connected to the murder but were rather in the cards at the end of the long Italian madrigal tradition. Agnew has a certain amount of evidence on his side; other composers such as Luca Marenzio and the melodiously named Luzzasco Luzzaschi pursued the same kinds of innovations as Gesualdo did. Whatever one's position, these are unusually strong Gesualdo performances. What Agnew and his singers do that often eludes others is to pay attention to the texts, avoiding the agonized mannerisms common in the repertory and deploying just a hint of inflection toward speech instead of sung pitch where it's appropriate. The range of dynamics and phrasing is large -- listen to the deliciously quiet "Dolcissimo sospiro" -- and the listener's interest never flags over the substantial program. Les Arts Florissants have performed Gesualdo frequently, and they are well attuned to the tremendous tension in his music, the feeling of having no idea where the music will go next, no matter where that tension may actually have been coming from. If your Gesualdo collection is in need of a refresh from the classic recordings of Stravinsky's day, this is a fine choice; it is also a good place to start with Gesualdo for anybody. © TiVo
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Classical - Released February 5, 2021 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Revered since the height of the Classical era up to the simmering years of the 20th century, the string quartet represented an ideal genre to which composers entrusted their most innovative ideas. The Modigliani Quartet illuminates these brillant masterpieces, each bearing witness to a turning point in the lives of their authors. Brimming with poetry, audacity and a thirst for life, the singular narratives of these quartets herald the advent of new horizons. © Mirare
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Classical - Released February 5, 2021 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Kerson Leong recently participated in the award-winning "Tribute to Ysaÿe" (FUG758). Here is his first solo recital for Alpha. The young Canadian violinist’s career began at the age of thirteen when he won the First Prize of the Junior division of the Menuhin Competition in Oslo in 2010. In 2018 he was named artist-in-residence with the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal. An associate musician at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel, under the mentorship of Augustin Dumay, he has already performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Verbier Festival and Wigmore Hall. The Quebec newspaper Le Devoir, which has followed him since the start of his career, speaks of ‘the purity of intonation, the brilliance of the high notes, the power of the sound... Kerson Leong has remained as brilliant as ever, but he has added a new patina and, deep down inside himself, a new class’. He plays a superb Guarneri del Gesù, on loan from a Canadian patron. Here he tackles a monument of the violin repertory, the Sonatas for Solo Violin of Eugène Ysaÿe: ‘These sonatas are of course a big test . . . The music is highly emotional, pervasive and in some ways also very sombre, which makes it extremely powerful’, says Leong of these six Sonatas, which he frequently plays in their entirety in a single concert. © Alpha Classics
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Classical - Released February 1, 2021 | Cobra Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released January 29, 2021 | Les Indispensables de Diapason

Distinctions Diapason d'or