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Opera Extracts - Released October 5, 2018 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Qobuzissime
For her first recital with orchestra album, young Franco-Danish soprano Elsa Dreisig had the idea of presenting five pairs of songs in which each part of the pair is ambiguously related to the other, like a mirror’s reflection. This process leads to striking juxtapositions of different musical styles, dramatic moments, historical periods and contrasting voices; classicism and romanticism complement each other, terror answers joy, and the result is a view of the feminine soul all its facets. The first pairing involves two mirrors: the one in which Marguerite from Gounod's Faust admires herself and Thaïs's mirror in Massenet's opera (Thaïs). There follows Puccini's vision of Manon Lescaut, and then Manon (sans Lescaut) as imagined by Massenet. Following this we have Juliette, this is a rather daring pairing of the largely-forgotten early romantic German composer Daniel Steibelt with Gounod's Juliette. Elsa Dreisig then moves onto the two famous Figaros, one from Rossini's Barber (Rosina) and the other from Mozart's Marriage, with the gentle tones of the Countess. Finally, and more daring still, we end with the Salome of the Hérodiade by Massenet, a tender young woman who is not after anyone's head; and then Strauss's Salome, with her sanguinary madness. Probably in order to avoid the temptation of comparisons with other recordings, our singer has opted for the 1907 French version – note that this work by Oscar Wilde was itself originally written in French. This is the most extraordinary selection that one could hope for in a first recording from any artist, all accompanied by the Montpelier Orchestra, conducted by Michael Schønwandt. © SM/Qobuz
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Opera Extracts - Released September 28, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Qobuzissime
The first solo album from the excellent youngster Julien Behr, who has already played at the Paris Opéra, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the Bordeaux and Lyon Opera Houses and cities such as Salzburg, Vienna, London, Cologne and many other great venues as well as making recordings of various lyrical works including L’Enfant et les sortilèges with Bavarian Radio. As debut albums go, he has made a daring choice in selecting some of the more unknown areas of French opera rather than the more popular pieces from Don José, Romeo, Faust and other big names. Instead, he has taken some gems from the Romantic repertoire (if we extend it up to the First World War for the sake of argument) which are little-heard of. From Gounod, he has selected Cinq-Mars ; from Bizet, La Jolie fille de Perth (one of Bizet's most exquisite passages); from Thomas, Mignon; and then, better-known but still uncommon, Léhar The Merry Widow; Godard, Jocelyn; and Delibes Lakmé. His diction is utterly impeccable; his transparent and airy voice evokes Heddle Nach or Jussi Björling, which serves the repertoire perfectly. The album closes with a few hits from the Romantic repertoire such as Vous qui passez sans me voir by Charles Trenet – well, the lyrics are from the Fou chantant, while the music is by Johnny Hess and Paul Misraki, and the song was originally written for Jean Sablon – evidence of Behr's love of lighter genres, for sure. . © SM/Qobuz
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Full Operas - Released June 22, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - Qobuzissime
Why yes, it is still possible to discover Bernstein scores, or in this case the chamber version of A Quiet Place, adapted by Garth Edwin Sunderland, conducted and recorded for the first time by Kent Nagano, at the Montreal Symphony House. The final stage score by the American composer, first performed at the Houston Grand Opera in 1983, it was revisited by the librettist Stephen Wadsworth, and the composer who added several fragments from the one-act piece Trouble in Tahiti, from 1951; this addition would see two new performances (the Scala in Milan, and Washington). Another draft – this one definitive – was performed at the Vienna Opera House, conducted by the composer, in 1986. Fascinating in more ways than one, rather like a modern-day Intermezzo by Strauss, the work depicts American society by way of an existential crisis faced, first by one couple, (Trouble in Tahiti) and then by one family. Bernstein borrowed from Mahler for the structure, with a final movement whose "grave nobility" recalled the final movements of the Third and NinthSymphonies by his much-admired forebear. As is often the case with this composer, Bernstein's mix of styles (jazz, chorale, Broadway, Mahler, Berg, Britten, Copland…) provides an explosive cocktail, which has about it more of a musical conversation than grand opera – and, paradoxically, that's what makes this work so unique... And so charming. This is well worth a re-discovery, this time under the baton of Bernstein's faithful former pupil, Kent Nagano, at the head of top-flight solo singers, who point the way to that "quiet place", where "love will teach us harmony and grace". © Franck Mallet/Qobuz
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Classical - Released May 11, 2018 | Arts & Crafts Productions Inc.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
A 31 year-old Canadian, Jean-Michel Blais is no stranger to the neoclassical stage. After a first album bearing the sober title "II", on Caroline Distribution, this offering consists of a new collection of tracks, (most of which have already been released separately over recent weeks) which are possessed of an irrepressible lyricism. On board his piano, which he has transformed into a magical music box, he travels with the winds, following the currents of his own insatiable creativity. In the middle, Blind, perhaps the most seductive track of these forty-five minutes (alongside sourdine…), immerses us in an ideal vision of a music which mixes acoustics and machines into a soothing and velvety whole. god(s) takes us somewhere else, to church perhaps: but the return of synths shows that Jean-Michel Blais might perhaps have different gods in mind. igloo could have been a spiritual, even pantheist, track, but Blais, who isn't above a little caustic wit, is quite urban about it: the "igloo" in question is a reference to contemporary cities, full of "caverns", where everything is stacked over everything else. Henceforth, Blais's name will be synonymous with unique sonic flavours. But there is something here of that bitter, fraternal, soft and sensual melancholy that runs through much of North American music, and which permeates the sonic spaces of a Copland (Quiet City) or a Bernard Herrmann (Les Neiges du Kilimandjaro) and the obstinate figures of a Steve Reich (The Four Sections) or the curling wisps of one of the most imaginative representatives of Canadian pop, like Patrick Watson ― think of the latter's Lighthouse where we find that same vision of the instrument, as if stripped of its hammers. Jean-Michel Blais takes his time, discreetly. Under his elegant veneer, he knows how to be tenacious: his quotations (from the entrancingly slow movement of Rachmaninov's Second Concerto, for example, on roses) make for salutary and soothing escapes. Blais is holding out his hand to you. It would be rude to turn him down. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz

Symphonic Music - Released November 3, 2017 | Chandos

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Qobuzissime - 5 étoiles de Classica
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Aside from Elgar’s fascinating and obligatory Falstaff composed in 1913 (a Symphonic Study according to the partition, but in reality a symphonic poem in the grand tradition of Strauss— about whom Elgar probably thought when he wrote his masterpiece, and the rather present solo cello cannot help but remind us of Strauss’ Don Quixote, composed sixteen years earlier), the album distinguishes itself by a few melodies with orchestra from the same Elgar, a repertoire unfortunately too often neglected and yet of breathtaking beauty (we hear, in a pinch, the Sea Pictures performed from time to time, but that’s all folks). And when you know that it’s the now very famous baritone Roderick Williams on the mic, we can only applaud the initiative of Andrew Davis and the BBC Philharmonic to feature these splendors once again. Elgar proves to us here that, far from just being a great master of large symphonic-vocal soundscapes in the form of oratorio (we obviously think about The Dream of Gerontius, The Apostles and The Music Makers), he handles the miniature with genius. Roderick Williams, one of the most beautiful voices of today’s British scene, grasps these rarities with a joy that is as rare as these pieces. The album closes on a hilarious wink, the Smoking Cantata, a cantata with a ginormous orchestration but that lasts… only 49 seconds, and whose text is limited to: “Kindly, Kindly, kindly do not SMOKE in the hall or staircase”. It’s the best British humor! Qobuz technical commentary on sound quality The sound quality for this wonderful orchestration is refined; the level ratios are well-judged; and the distances between the consoles are just right, in this airy piece of mixing that renders the lines exceptionally clear. Clear and enveloping reverberation never hides the discourse: the result is a rare evenness between the different families within the orchestra. The tutti certainly aren’t lacking any liveliness, thanks to the remarkably assured dynamic, and when the percussion gets going we discover a beautifully-proportioned hall, which gives the sound room to develop without constraints. Without falling into the very (too?) popular trap of ultra-proximity, and because the acoustics allow it, Chandos has produced a mix which really respects the score, the performance, and the sound scene... what a relief! © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released September 29, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles de Classica - Qobuzissime - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
For their first recording, the Arod Quartet has selected Mendelssohn, one of the pillars of the quartet's art, in particular his masterpiece, the Fourth Quartet in E Minor of June 1837 - more Mozartian than Beethovian in its structure and development, to be sure, even if it bears Mendelssohn's hallmark from the first note to the last. To find the influence of the deaf genius, we have to look in the Second Quartet Op. 13 of 1827, a work written shortly after Beethoven's death, the full extent of whose innovations Mendelssohn was only just discovering. The Arod Quartet continues its album with Four Pieces for Quartet, assembled posthumously and numbered Op. 81 by Mendelssohn's successor at the Gewandhaus, Julius Rietz, and based on four disparate pieces from various eras. Finally, the album closes with the Arod's re-interpretaton of a Lied, sung here by Marianne Crebassa, whose theme takes in several passages from Beethoven note for note, a real homage from the young composer to his illustrious elder. It’s worth noting that the Arod Quartet, only founded in 2013, has shot to global prominence, having performed at the Paris Philharmonic, the Louvre Auditorium, the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, the Metz Arsenal, and further afield the Salzburg Mozarteum, the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Zurich Tonhalle, London's Wigmore Hall, as well as in Tokyo, Finland, Switzerland... the list goes on! © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released September 1, 2017 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
"Handel goes wild", that’s putting it mildly: in Christina Pluhar’s album, he goes wild to quite some extremes! Indeed the Austrian harpist, theorbist, and lute player picked a handful of Handel’s (and a bit of Vivaldi’s) arias, concerto movements and overtures, and put them not only in the hands of baroque musicians of the L’Arpeggiata Ensemble, but also of half a dozen jazz musicians of various styles. The result is a reinterpretation, in turn gypsy, Klezmer, salsa, New Orleans jazz, lounge, blues and so on, that everyone can either love or hate depending on their own degree of adaptability. Undeniably using a clarinet and piano in this language can be confusing for some… But Pluhar’s approach is simple: Handel himself reused, reshaped, tinkered, disguised, ransacked and rewrote, using both the works of other composers and his own, always with his own personal approach and the most immediate style of his time. So why not do the same nowadays?! In any case, this mixture of baroque instruments and voices with 20th-century instruments and genres is breathtaking. The artists invited include clarinettist Gianluigi Trovesi, pianist Francesco Turrisi and bass player Boris Schmidt in the field of jazz, but also countertenor Valer Barna-Sabadus and soprano Nuria Rial. © SM/Qobuz

Sacred Vocal Music - Released April 14, 2017 | Glossa

Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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The Vespers for the Blessed Virgin by Monteverdi – Vespro della Beata Vergine – is, so to speak, a work made up of many works. The composer seems to have put everything he had into this piece, which appeared in Venice in 1610. It is as if he wanted to use it as an immense catalogue of all his skills: his facility with ancient and modern styles; with the strict and the flamboyant; with instrumentals, vocals, choruses, solos, parody masses, the magnificat, psalms... Perhaps he wanted to use the work as a CV in Venice, where he would indeed land a job as choirmaster in 1613? The fact that several passages are written for two choirs would seem to support this idea. Elaborate job application or not, in this work Monteverdi has produced one of his most durable masterpieces, which forms a bridge between the late Renaissance - with passages taken from prima practica, the style developed by Palestrina - and the nascent Baroque style, and its seconda practica which was so dear to Monteverdi, and which would free the use of dissonance from its old straitjacket. For this recording, Giuseppe Maletto has brought together the rich talents of La Compagnia del Madrigale and the Cantica Symphonia and La Pifarescha ensembles, because it takes a whole lot of talent to give the Vespers the treatment it deserves.
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Classical - Released February 14, 2017 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime

Full Operas - Released January 20, 2017 | Glossa

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Qobuzissime
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Classical - Released October 26, 2016 | Erato - Warner Classics

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Qobuzissime
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The graphics clarify the rather curious title of this release by French mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa. This is a collection of arias for what are referred to in the English translation of the booklet notes by the rare term "travesty roles," but are better known as "pants roles." The main strength of the album is the program: Crebassa starts with some Mozart examples, not all of them terribly familiar, and moves forward through the Romantic era as far as Reynaldo Hahn. The album might even serve as an anthology of the pants role, and a college course devoted to gender and music could easily take this album and run with it. Crebassa finds some marvelously sensuous arias, such as one from Ambroise Thomas' Psyché (1857), which is little known outside France. Sample this aria to hear both the collection and Crebassa's rather sharp-edged voice at its best. She seems a bit mechanical in the Italian-language arias but often puts the French material across convincingly. The contributions of the Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg under Marc Minkowski are a major plus, as is the engineering, executed on the orchestra's home ground. An offbeat choice, recommended for those who enjoy this rather intimate corner of the operatic repertory.
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Opera - Released October 7, 2016 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Qobuzissime
As Mozart wrote to his father in 1778: "I love it when an aria fits a singer as perfectly as a suit". This, by reasoning, means that virtually all of his greatest melodies – for both prima donna and secondary (supporting) roles - were designed for a specific type of voice. This means that anyone who wants to tackle numerous Mozart roles must know how to adapt their suit accordingly – no simple task, to say the least. Swiss soprano coloratura Regula Mühlemann, with her sumptuous, clear and precise vocals, has perfectly adapted to all of these melodies, as well as the wide range of genres, styles and characters explored. Among the works, one will find Exultate, Jubilate and also a melody that Mozart had written to be inserted in The Barber of Seville by Paisiello, although this did not materialize and Mozart left the work unfinished. Regula Mühlemann, whom we have already witnessed in Salzburg, Berlin, Paris, Zurich, and many other prestigious cities and settings, is accompanied here by the Basel Chamber Orchestra conducted by Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli, the nephew of famous Italian pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. © SM / Qobuz
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Classical - Released August 24, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - Qobuzissime
Justin Taylor, the winner of the 2015 edition of the celebrated harpsichord competition of the Musica Antiqua Festival in Bruges (which has honoured some of the world’s finest players, including Scott Ross, Christophe Rousset, Pierre Hantaï, Benjamin Alard, and more recently Jean Rondeau), has recorded for Alpha Classics a programme of music by the Forqueray family: Antoine, Michel, Jean-Baptiste, Nicolas-Gilles . . . Those are just some of the first names of a great dynasty of French composers, gambists and organists. Antoine Forqueray, born in 1672, obtained the highly coveted position of Musicien de la Chambre du Roi. He subsequently had, shall we say, a complicated relationship with his son Jean-Baptiste, born in 1699 . . . Envious of the boy’s talent for the viol, Antoine had him imprisoned when he was just sixteen years old! The recital, as well as painting a musical portrait of this unique family, also offers a chance to reflect on the issue of transcription. In fact, the suites performed here on the harpsichord were originally written for viola da gamba. The passage from one instrument to another, from one soundworld to another, sheds new light on the music and allows us to grasp its full originality. © Alpha
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Duets - Released May 6, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - Qobuzissime
Marie-Elisabeth Hecker made her entry into the ‘big leagues’ by winning first prize in the Rostropovich Competition in Paris back in 2005. Her international career was simultaneously launched on the back of this great success. Born in 1987 in Zwickau, the young cellist has studied with Steven Iserlis, Bernard Greenhouse and even Gary Hoffman. She has performed as a soloist with the Russian Symphony Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Kremerata Baltica, the Mariinsky Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Munich and Dresden Philharmonic Orchestras, the Staatskapelle Berlin, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris… the list goes on. Her experience has seen her work with conductors such as Yuri Temirkanov, Yuri Bashmet, Gidon Kremer, Valery Gergiev, Fabio Luisi, Marek Janowski, Emmanuel Krivine, Christian Thielemann or even Daniel Barenboim. Here, with her musical partner (and husband) pianist Martin Helmchen for their first duo album; the two musicians met at the Lockenhaus Festival at which time they performed another one of Brahms sonatas: Proust's Madeleine! More than twenty years separate the two sonatas for cello and piano, the first from 1862 – the composer had not yet turned 30 – and the second from 1886, by which time he had nothing left to prove to anyone. Hecker-Helmchen thoroughly master this repertoire. A coup for this first album as a duo. © SM / Qobuz
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Classical - Released April 1, 2016 | Arcana

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Qobuzissime
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Classical - Released March 7, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles de Classica - Qobuzissime - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
"Nevermind Conversations", that could easily be the title of a rap album, right? But no, dear qobuzian (qobuzzer?), this new recording by Baroque ensemble Nevermind (Anna Besson (flute), Louis Creac'h (violin), Robin Pharo (gamba) and Jean Rondeau (harpsichord)) certainly strike up a spirited conversation between two French Baroque composers, established between French and Italian styles that both deal with fantasy and invention. The two composers: Jean Baptiste Quentin (ca. 1690 - ca. 1742), violinist at the Royal Academy of Music; and Louis-Gabriel Guillemain (1705 - 1770), ordinary musician of the king.© SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 6, 2015 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica - Qobuzissime

Symphonic Music - Released August 12, 2015 | San Francisco Symphony

Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
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Absolute Jest, performed for the first time in 2012 by the San Francisco Orchestra and its leader Michael Tilson Thomas, implies both buffoonery and great fun through its title. The listener may well be wondering what to expect! Well, for some twenty minutes Adams powers an unlikely scherzo, one charged with mad energy, provided by a warring orchestra and a solo string quartet. Here the piece is reminiscent of the fiercest Beethoven quartets. Other homage is paid to the great Ludwig; there is the stubborn dotted rhythm that characterizes the first movement of the Seventh Symphony, and also the scherzo of the Ninth, which Adams borrows alongside Beethoven’s signature timpani. On hearing Absolute Jest, one notes that the score is full of Adamsian rhythmic crannies that call to mind his simply devilish complications. A much older work, the Grand Pianola Music of 1982 uses two pianos (not Pianolas as the title may suggest; it is a sly Adamsian joke), wind instruments, three female voices singing without words, and percussion. The composer developed his own brand of minimalism; a minimalism in which the music is clearly partitioned, exploding outwards in all directions. Musical cells are constantly moving, and ruptures come forth constantly to unsettle the listener. This recording is led by Adams himself, with Marc-André Hamelin and Orli Shaham on the pianos.   Note: Absolute Jest was recorded in 96kHz/24-bit, Grand Pianola Music was recorded in PCM 192kHz/24-bit and both were mastered in 192kHz/24-bit

Symphonic Music - Released August 12, 2015 | San Francisco Symphony

Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
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Absolute Jest, performed for the first time in 2012 by the San Francisco Orchestra and its leader Michael Tilson Thomas, implies both buffoonery and great fun through its title. The listener may well be wondering what to expect! Well, for some twenty minutes Adams powers an unlikely scherzo, one charged with mad energy, provided by a warring orchestra and a solo string quartet. Here the piece is reminiscent of the fiercest Beethoven quartets. Other homage is paid to the great Ludwig; there is the stubborn dotted rhythm that characterizes the first movement of the Seventh Symphony, and also the scherzo of the Ninth, which Adams borrows alongside Beethoven’s signature timpani. On hearing Absolute Jest, one notes that the score is full of Adamsian rhythmic crannies that call to mind his simply devilish complications. A much older work, the Grand Pianola Music of 1982 uses two pianos (not Pianolas as the title may suggest; it is a sly Adamsian joke), wind instruments, three female voices singing without words, and percussion. The composer developed his own brand of minimalism; a minimalism in which the music is clearly partitioned, exploding outwards in all directions. Musical cells are constantly moving, and ruptures come forth constantly to unsettle the listener. This recording is led by Adams himself, with Marc-André Hamelin and Orli Shaham on the pianos.

Chamber Music - Released June 26, 2015 | Glossa

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - 4 étoiles de Classica - Qobuzissime
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