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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 29, 2019 | Decca

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She had to dare. Cecilia Bartoli appears on this album cover nude, androgynous, in a full beard and with hair down to her shoulders, delving deeper into the legend surrounding Farinelli, already explored with questionable sensationalism in the world of cinema and replaced with more correct historical precision in Patrick Barbier's brilliant book dedicated to the famous Neapolitan castrato. The now-lost voice of castratos made eager crowds go wild at the time, the singers carrying a certain mythical aura around them, attributed to the confusion of their gender, bathed in an ambiguous eroticism. These music lovers have not however disappeared: they're the ones rushing to hear the Italian singer's vocal prowess both in concert and on disc. For this opus dedicated to Farinelli, Cecilia Bartoli has chosen well-known melodies from the repertoire of the famous singer, varying her vocal fireworks she is so renowned for with some more dramatic, introspective tunes. Cecilia Bartoli conjures up Porpora, Hasse, Giacomelli, Caldara and Riccardo Broschi, Farinelli's own brother in a thrilling spectacle which aims, if not to uncover a hypothetical voice of the past, to replicate the chills it could produce thanks to her passion and dedication to the art. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 22, 2019 | Warner Classics

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After his spectacular recording of Berlioz’s magnum opus, the opera Les Troyens, which was awarded internationally, the Berlioz enthusiast John Nelson has delivered a new version of La Damnation de Faust which also appears to be on track for dizzying success. For this recording made in concert by Daniel Zalay and his team of sound engineers in the Erasme Auditorium of the Palais de la musique et des congrès de Strasbourg (Strasbourg Convention Centre) on the 25th and 26th of April 2019, John Nelson reunited with the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, whose typically French style and German discipline he likes so much. The army of instrumentalists would have pleased Berlioz, with its eight double basses and six harps among others. John Nelson knows his way round this music like no one else, he knows to inject it with a particular energy all while respecting the musical colour so well defined by the composer. He is surrounded by the cast of dreams, with Faust masterfully portrayed by the tenor Michael Spyres who sings the French perfectly and knows how to embody the character by playing on the quality of his tonality. Joyce DiDonato is an opulent Marguerite, full of fire and totally engaged. Nicolas Courjal plays a very expressive Mephisto; his sombre tone underlines the darkness and bitter irony of the character he plays. The children’s choir Les Petits Chanteurs de Strasbourg and the powerful Gulbenkian Choir perfectly round off this ideal casting. A new milestone in the recording of Berlioz’s main works under John Nelson’s direction for the label Erato, this accomplished record precedes Roméo et Juliette which the same artists will undertake in 2020. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Quartets - Released September 27, 2019 | Warner Classics

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Symphonic Music - Released September 6, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Leading the Lucerne Festival for two summers running, conductor Richardo Chailly has honoured composers that the musicians had never yet recorded: Igor Stravinsky in 2018, and Richard Strauss in 2019. The sumptuousness of the orchestration of the latter here affords a glittering clarity, just as much in the concertante parts as in the tutti. The writing conjures a Straussian atmosphere: a marvellously apt terrain for the Lucerne orchestra. In Zarathustra, the strings, in particular the double-basses, rumble away as under one bow, with gobsmacking precision in Von der großen Sehnsucht ("Of the Great Yearning") and Genesende ("the Convalescent"). Richard Strauss deploys a romantic counterpoint in his writing – in particular in Von den Hinterweltlern ("Of the Backworldsmen") – and the strings of Lucerne brilliantly bring his limitless lyricism to life. The following works, (Tod und Verklärung, Till Eulenspiegel and finally The Dance of the Seven Veils) bring to mind other epithets that we might apply to this perfect recording: epic majesty, burlesque humour, serpentine voluptuousness: all ingredients of Strauss's symphonic poems. The sound quality does justice to the beauty of the orchestra, and the mix doesn't leave anyone out: every counterpoint is defined, every pizzicato twangs appropriately and we hear even the softest touch of the timbal. Demanding in their extremity (in both nuance and difficulty), these scores make a perfect fit for the Lucerne orchestra, a meeting of the greatest soloists of the international stage, brought together by the festival. The only drawback comes from precisely this concentration of quality. While we are gripped by Salome's Dance of the Seven Veils, we are perhaps more impressed than moved by a piece that has been stripped of some of its finest orchestral ornamentation. © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released May 10, 2019 | harmonia mundi

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Keyboard Concertos - Released May 3, 2019 | BIS

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Violin Solos - Released March 15, 2019 | Accentus Music

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Cello Concertos - Released January 18, 2019 | Warner Classics

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica
French cellist Gautier Capuçon does not lack for charisma (or talent), and he has emerged as a major star. The Erato label seems to have tried to capitalize on that with the design of this album, featuring photos by the American Jamie Beck that cast Capuçon as a kind of Byronic figure. It may be a bit over the top, but classical music needs stars. The contents of the album, however, may not quite live up to the heroic concept. They consist of live performances recorded between 2009 and 2015, not of new material. Schumann wrote more music for cello than other composers did, and assembling them in a single program may have made sense. But the sound universes of the Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129, and the various chamber pieces are entirely different. The major attraction here is the concerto, a work that has been revaluated upward in recent years as performers have clarified its knotty lines. Historically oriented performance works well with Schumann, and there is a historical reading by Argentine cellist Sol Gabetta with the Kammerorchester Basel. But Capuçon offers a fine modern-instrument option, and an important contributor to its success is octogenarian conductor Bernard Haitink, leading the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Sample the precise interplay between Capuçon and Haitink in the first movement, which makes the music seem to unfold inevitably. The concerto never drags, and Capuçon sounds gorgeous. The chamber works were recorded at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland with pianist Martha Argerich, and, in the case of the Fantasiestücke, Op. 88, Capuçon's brother Renaud on violin. Despite the august collaborators, these readings feature differing approaches from the principals and don't quite jell, either interpretively or sonically. Nevertheless, this is an album Capuçon's fans will want, and the reading of the concerto is an important addition to its growing discography.
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Operettas - Released January 11, 2019 | Alpha

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The elegant Jodie Devos puts her talents to work in service of a fairly unknown known side of Offenbach, taking on several somewhat-forgotten pieces which call for very specific voices, known in Offenbach’s day by names such as "chanteuse d’agilité", "chanteuse à roulade" or "première chanteuse légère". Of course, everyone knows the tune of the doll Olympia from Tales of Hoffmann, or the telling of the death of Eurydice in Orpheus in the Underworld, but the substantial repertoire of the composer's smaller pieces (which he generally referred to as "operettas" to distinguish them from his larger works, his famous opéras bouffe) contains a number of virtuoso arias for coloratura soprano. In them, we hear the vocal imitation of the jeu perlé piano technique or of Paganini's "flying staccato", in which unstinting bravura hides the real difficulty behind something apparently easy. But the difference from many bel canto composers, who merely show off vocals and melody, is that Offenbach knows how to charge these things with emotion, with textual significance, with personality, and with contrasts: simple mechanics never take precedence over diversity. This record allows us to discover a neat little collection of sadly little-known works which are well overdue a return to the French stage. © SM/Qobuz
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Cello Concertos - Released November 30, 2018 | Sony Classical

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Cellist Sol Gabetta and her almost-favourite pianist, Bertrand Chamayou, focus here on Schumann's all too rare repertoire for cello and piano. And once again, none of these pieces are intended a priori for cello, even though the original scores do propose the instrument as a possible alternative to the clarinet in Fantasy Pieces or the horn in Adagio and Allegro. It was only with Five Pieces in Folk Style that Schumann immediately thought of the cello! Here, Chamayou plays on a Viennese fortepiano by Streicher, dated from 1847 - three or four years after the composition of these three works. The Concerto for cello is accompanied by the Basel Chamber Orchestra, who also play on instruments from the romantic era, giving a more hushed yet incisive sound for the attacks. There’s more of an emphasis on the woodwind section as well, in contrast to the over-inflated string ensemble that so many modern orchestras offer up. © SM/Qobuz
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Opera Extracts - Released November 23, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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This new Vivaldi album marks a double anniversary, the thirty-year anniversary of the close collaboration between Cecilia Bartoli and the famous English label Decca, and the twenty-year anniversary of the very successful first Vivaldian opus. This time leaving behind Giovanni Antonini and his Il Giardino Armonico ensemble, Cecilia Bartoli has selected French musicians well versed in Vivaldi’s music, as if to demonstrate the universal nature of the Red Priest’s compositions. In fact, Jean-Christophe Spinosi and his Ensemble Matheus have distinguished themselves with Vivaldi’s instrumental music since their early days. They started off their collaboration with five concerts, dedicated of course to the Venetian composer, in Munich, Prague, Baden-Baden and Versailles. For their first recording together they selected ten opera titles, nine of which weren’t featured on the 1999 album. The plethora of Vivaldi operas provides an endless supply to recitalists who can easily put together, as is the case here, an extremely lively programme featuring the most beautiful gems of an extraordinarily expansive composer whose melodic liveliness has been a constantly fascinating topic. This release is also beautiful in itslef (accessible on your Qobuz account), as it features a photo book containing beautiful portraits of Cecila Bartoli taken by Roman photographer Viviane Purdom, who has devoted her life to masterfully shooting great classical musicians. Happy anniversary indeed! © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released November 16, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Symphonies - Released August 24, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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The Second Symphony by Leonard Bernstein, The Age of Anxiety, based on a poem of the same name by W. H. Auden, is a work of the composer-conductor's relative youth, dating from 1948-1949, when he was just turning thirty. The symphony is presented as a series of variations, but not variations around an initial theme. No: each variation takes on elements of the previous variation, varies in turn, and so on. It brings to mind an unbroken metamorphosis. As one might imagine, Bernstein mixes classical symphonic elements with jazz, in particular in the solo piano passage – tackled here by Krystian Zimerman, who had the good fortune to perform with Bernstein several times. In its own way, it is a kind of homage to the centenary of the composer's birth: as Zimerman mentions in the liner notes, Bernstein asked him if he wanted to play this symphony with him for his hundredth birthday. And he almost keeps the promise, although the orchestra is the Berlin Philharmonic, under Sir Simon Rattle. © SM/Qobuz
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Trios - Released July 20, 2018 | Alpha

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With this new series entitled ‘Salon de musique’, Alpha presents recordings made by artists who have enlivened the Festival of Salon de Provence for some years now: the pianist Eric le Sage, who has made many recordings for Alpha, the clarinettist Paul Meyer etc… with cellist Claudio Bohórquez, they have now put two Beethoven trios on disc. By 1798, the year Ludwig van Beethoven composed his Trio for piano, clarinet and cello op.11, he was already well-known in Vienna as a remarkable improviser and an ambitious young composer. the piece was clearly aimed at the enlightened aristocracy, as well as competent musical amateurs. This did not prevent the critics, though universally positive, from judging the score to be over-complex in places. Dedicated to the Empress Marie-Theresa of Austria, the Septet was published in 1802 by Hofmeister, and on being well-received it was then rearranged for various combinations. Beethoven himself made a version for clarinet, cello and piano, op.38 in E Flat major – the one recorded here. © Alpha Classics
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Full Operas - Released May 2, 2018 | PentaTone

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The story of the Pêcheurs de perles [Pearl Fishers] by Bizet is nothing short of torturous: after its first outing in 1863, the score – whose manuscript is now in private hands and no longer available, alas – fell into obscurity, and was only returned to its rightful place in the sun after the composer's death, once Carmen had made his name. Alas – a thousand times, alas – many different theatre directors took themselves for great geniuses and made little amendments to the work, cutting here, adding there, changing bits up to and including the end. Until the 1960s, this calamitously cack-handed version was the one that was performed – this libretto looks a little flat, why not add a few mistakes? – until musicologists stumbled across the original documents, in particular the cut-down version by Bizet himself, as well as the "conductor's score" of the time, which contained many notes about orchestration. This version, put together in 2014 by Hugh MacDonald, is sung by the flower of great French lyrical music – Julie Fuchs, Florian Sempey, Cyrille Dubois and Luc Bertin-Hugault – and returns as closely as possible to the original version of the work, so that the listener will encounter a number of big surprises, and good surprises too: additional numbers, several melodic and dramatic developments: almost a whole new score. © SM/Qobuz
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Opera Extracts - Released March 2, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Nowadays it might seem rather strange to describe a composer as a “singing master”, but, during the eighteenth century, this was not the case at all. In Italy, almost every composer worthy of the name wrote opere serie (Porpora wrote at least forty- ve): serious opera was the dominant musical genre, glorifying the human voice above everything else. It was the maker or breaker of musical reputations, with its nest singers the rst superstars of music. Therefore composers, though generally eclipsed by the fame of their leading men and women, needed to understand the human voice and all its remarkable capabilities, both technical and histrionic, in order to be able to exploit the possibilities of the operatic form at a time when those “machines made for singing”, the castrati, had brought the vocal art to a pitch of perfection never known before, nor equalled since. Though this recording is bringing Porpora’s name to public attention again on the 250th anniversary of his death, his fame as a singing teacher has probably obscured, until recently, his remarkable qualities as a composer, quite simply because two of the most famous castrati were among his many pupils, namely Gaetano Majorano, known as Caffarelli, whom Porpora once called “the nest singer in Europe”, also famed for his amorous antics and arrogance on- and off-stage, and the even more celebrated Carlo Broschi, who, under his stage name of Farinelli, amazed audiences and set hearts a- utter for fteen years throughout Europe, before being called to Spain to heal a crazed King by the power of his voice. Max Cencic remarks: “Porpora was a severe teacher, I think, maybe almost sadistic in his demands — you need 120% control of breath, brain and voice”. Legend indeed has it that he taught Caffarelli one page of exercises, and those alone, for six years. The formal alternation of aria and recitative in opera seria conceals a great range of emotional expression, that varietas that Erasmus famously described as “so powerful in every sphere that there is absolutely nothing, however brilliant, which is not dimmed if not commended by variety”. In such forms as the orid aria di bravura or the lyrical aria di sostenuto, the composer’s fantasy only provided a framework for the singer to embroider: the performer’s skill in ornamentation and other emotional devices was of paramount importance. Porpora’s many years of both teaching and composing experience made him, in Max Cencic’s opinion, “one of the top ten composers of Italian Baroque opera. I chose the arias for this recording almost by instinct, by what ‘felt right’. There is no way one can encompass a composer of such quality in one album, and each piece is a treasure in its own right. Though technical display is everywhere — leaps, rapid scales, trills, long phrases — Porpora’s special and utterly captivating melodic gift always shines through.” The arias are all taken from works composed at the height of Porpora’s fame, from Ezio (Venice 1728; “Se tu la reggi al volo” is a semiquaver spectacular) to Filandro (Dresden 1747, with a ravishing siciliano in “Ove l’erbetta tenera, e molle”), including three of the operas he composed for London during the 1730s, in direct competition with Handel (Arianna in Nasso 1733, Enea nel Lazio 1734 — real reworks here in “Chi vuol salva” — and I genia in Aulide 1735). The Teatro San Carlo in Naples, perhaps the most famous of all opera houses at that time, saw the premiere of Il trionfo di Camilla in 1740, and the two arias recorded here show Porpora at his best: the music of “Va per le vene il sangue” evocatively matches its darkly suggestive text, while “Torcere il corso all’onde” combines rapid- re coloratura with elegance of line. In the three arias from Carlo il Calvo (Teatro delle Dame, Rome 1738) the singer is similarly called to match Porpora’s varietas with his own: from the scurrying oriture of “So che tiranno io sono” to the high-lying phrases of “Se rea ti vuole il cielo”, and the beguilingly hypnotic sostenuto of “Quando s’oscura il cielo”. Porpora’s orchestral writing is also remarkably varied, all the more so in that he generally uses only strings, nowhere better than in the elaborate lines of “Torbido intorno al core” from Meride e Selinunte (Venice 1726), where voice and violins entwine in an elaborate and emotionally suggestive web of divisions. However, sometimes he pulls out all the sonority stops, as in the martial “Destrier, che all’armi usato” where, at the rst performance in the Teatro Regio, Turin in 1731 trumpets and horns vied with the unmatchable power of the voice of Farinelli. As Max Cencic has said: “How can we emulate the great castrati? That is hard to pin down, but these voices were the very soul of Porpora’s music.” -Nicholas Clapton © 2018 – Decca Group Limited
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released February 16, 2018 | Mirare

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The cantata Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe (Jesus gathered the twelve to Himself) BWV 22, holds a historic place in Bach’s work. Indeed he composed it while still in Köthen, as an audition piece for the position of Thomaskantor in Leipzig, and then conducted it on February 7th, 1723, maybe even singing the bass part himself. Famously the city council, unable to convince its preferred composers – Telemann, Graupner and two others –, decided to settle with “mediocre” Bach… The gospel of the day first announces his death and his resurrection by Christ and his disciplines. A modest orchestra: voices, strings, one oboe and continuo, but the musical content is – like in almost all of Bach’s cantatas – amongst the best he’s ever written. For the same celebration, Bach composed a new cantata the following year, Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott (Lord Jesus Christ, true Man and God) BWV 127. But it has almost nothing in common with the previous piece: here Bach offers a very impressive reflection on physical death. Throughout his cantatas he called for a blessed death to free himself from the vicissitudes of life on Earth, but this now reveals how much he may have feared physical death itself. The aria ”Die Seele ruht” is one of these sublime moments suspended in time, an ineffable tintinnabulum, in which the soprano and the oboe dialogue on a harrowing theme while the flutes and string pizzicatos symbolise the passing of time with incredible beauty. Finally it’s with Die Elenden sollen essen (The miserable shall eat) BWV 75 that Bach started off his work in Leipzig, in St. Nicholas Church this time, as the cantatas were alternately performed in both churches. Probably because he wanted to start with a bang, he designed this cantata on a huge scale: fourteen numbers, divided in two parts. Of course Bach would have never been able to produce such vast and powerful partitions on a weekly basis, but there is a real substance to this Passion… and it’s with great passion that Philippe Pierlot, his Ricercar Consort and the soloists perform these masterpieces. © SM/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released October 27, 2017 | Sony Classical

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An album, a symphony: you would think that we had returned to the days of the Long Play, and the era of Mravinsky, Doráti, Markevitch, Karajan as well as many other performers and interpreters who have marked the discographic history of the last symphony from Piotr Ilitch Tchaikovsky. The album cover also seems to confirm it: it brings to mind the old RCA covers from the 50s and 60s. Sony Classical, being very supportive of the artistic endeavours of the Greco-Russian master, didn't hesitate to bring out a roughly 45-minute album - they had done better with the Rites of Spring (2015), which was feted in the press. Here, Teodor Currentzis continues his exploration of Tchaikovsky's world, with the Pathétique, putting the accent on the dynamic contrasts, sometimes naturally, sometimes by technical means (adagio lamentoso), and bringing to bear some methods that are normally specific to pop music. He exploits the sombre tone of the work, even above its rhythmic energy, and looks to create atmospheres that one could often call morbid. For record-lovers, this release is a great opportunity to revisit his discography, and for all other ardent Qobuz users it is an opportunity to rediscover this true emblem of the orchestral repertoire. © TG/Qobuz
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Trios - Released September 15, 2017 | Sony Classical

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Opera - Released September 15, 2017 | Warner Classics

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