Albums

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Classical - Released November 30, 2018 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Looking at the program here, you may not have been aware that Robert Schumann contributed so many works to the cello repertory. He didn't; the two central works were originally written for other instruments and are presented here in versions for cello and piano. Nevertheless, there is no hint of the program being scraped together. This is because Argentine cellist Sol Gabetta has assembled a group of mostly late Schumann works (the Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73, might be called transitional) that aren't terribly common, probably have never been heard together before, and offer all kinds of insight into the late Schumann style that heavily influenced the young Brahms. The contrapuntally dense Konzertstück für Cello und Orchester, Op. 129, generally rendered as Cello concerto in English, was one such work; it's a thorny work that Schumann's contemporaries wouldn't touch, but Brahms would later write concertos that would similarly be accused of not favoring the soloist enough, but that continued to rethink the concerto form. The work gets a fine performance here, influenced by historical-instrument readings, from Gabetta and the Kammerorchester Basel under Gabetta's frequent collaborator Giovanni Antonini. Sample the first movement for an idea of the clarity they bring to Schumann's gnarly textures. Of course, another periodic aspect of the Brahms style was an interest in folk-like melodies, and here that's anticipated by a very rarely heard Schumann work, the Fünf Stücke im Volkston, Op. 102 (Five Pieces in Folk Style). This one is worth the price on its own; the five works move progressively away from folk models, and really the work is unlike anything else in the repertory. The two middle works are played well enough by the cello, and all in all this is a fine, even revelatory Schumann recital even if the cello concerto, recorded two years earlier than the other pieces, seems to inhabit a different sonic world.
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Solo Piano - Released October 5, 2018 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Pianist Igor Levit moved from Russia to Germany when he was eight, but there's still a lot of Russian in his outlook: an attraction to the pure virtuoso tradition, and a tendency toward big statements and the big questions. Nowhere has this been more true than on Life, an album that succeeds both thematically and as a thrilling embodiment of late-Romantic pianism at its best. The title, and the contents, refer to the album's memorial function: Levit chose the program to honor a close artist friend who died in an accident. The music is monumental enough to live up to its death-haunted theme, rising out of silence in the Fantasia after J.S. Bach of Busoni and continuing with a remarkably sustained mood of soberness and dignity, punctuated by frenetic outbursts. Busoni is one major presence on the program; the other is Liszt, and the two come together in the Busoni transcription of the Fantasy and Fugue on the Chorale Ad nos, ad salutarem undam of Liszt, originally for organ and an impressive virtuoso task on the piano. So the program works well also as a revival of pure late-Romantic pianism: you can easily imagine that Liszt would have loved this, and loved to play it. A third theme interweaving the works on the program is that of reinterpretation, as in the Brahms transcription of the Chaconne from the Bach Partita for solo violin in D minor, BWV 1004; the fact that Levit has played these works in different orderings in recital testifies to the program's remarkable cohesiveness. There is music by Frederic Rzewski in a memorial vein, and Bill Evans' serene Peace Piece is a lovely conclusion. Bravo!
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Solo Piano - Released September 14, 2018 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
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Solo Piano - Released August 31, 2018 | ECM New Series

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Since the first composers started calling their works things like "nocturnes" or "serenades", there has been music designed specifically to evoke the dusk or the night. And then from the romantic period onward, the night began to become associated with worry, or even terror. Schumann's Phantasiestücke (1837) contain at least one nocturne movement in which the night is presented in a terroristic light (so to speak). In der Nacht, one of the great Schumannian moments, is concentrated into scarcely four minutes. Seventy years later, Ravel took the fear even further with Le Gibet, the central movement of Gaspard de la nuit – even more night – which tells of the gibbet where the hanged men twist gently to the sound of the night chimes; while Scarbo closes the triptych on the image of a nightmare dwarf. Finally, while Out of Doors by Bartók isn't necessarily all set at night, the fourth movement, The Night's Music, remains one of the most unsettling moments in all of piano literature. Born in Budapest in 1968, Dénes Várjon studied with György Kurtág and András Schiff. The winner of Liszt prizes as well as of Budapest's Géza Anda and Leo Weiner competitions, he has performed at the festivals of Salzburg, Lucerne, Davos and with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Zürich Tonhalle, the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and the Kremerata Baltica. © SM/Qobuz
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Solo Piano - Released April 28, 2017 | ARTALINNA

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - 5 étoiles de Classica
For several years now, Hiroaki Takenouchi had been keen to champion the music of a major Romantic composer, William Sterndale Bennett – an English virtuoso pianist, born in 1816, and considered one of the most captivating virtuosos in his time because of his flamboyance and mastery of the keyboard. Here, Takenouchi chooses one of what are indisputably Sterndale Bennett’s most accomplished scores, the Piano Sonata in F minor Op. 13, dedicated to Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: the work unveils a romantic ballad tone, which is both exciting and genuinely exhilarating, like the great scores of Mendelssohn or Schumann. To complete his programme Takenouchi offers one of the latter’s masterpieces for piano, Symphonic Etudes (1834) and dedicated… to William Sterndale Bennett. Indeed, Hiroaki Takenouchi’s new album released on the Artalinna label offers us interplay of reciprocal dedications to these three great names of European Romanticism – Mendelssohn, Schumann and Sterndale Bennett. His first volume of a double anthology dedicated to Haydn had been honoured by an ffff from the French magazine French magazine Télérama (highest award).
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Classical - Released January 5, 2018 | Warner Classics

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
EDITORIAL NOTES: This complete edition brings together all Debussy’s known works. The one work that is not currently available is the orchestral version of an Intermezzo composed in June 1882. However, it is possible to form an idea of how this might have sounded thanks to Debussy’s own transcription of the piece for piano duet (7/6)2. The following works can be heard here in premiere recordings: —the Chanson des brises (1882) for soprano solo, female chorus and piano four-hands (24/12), the complete manuscript of which has recently come to light; —the first version (1898) of the two Chansons de Charles d’Orléans (25/5-6); —Diane au bois (1885-87), a “comédie lyrique” for soprano, tenor and piano (26/1-4); —the beginning of La Chute de la maison Usher, as it was when Debussy set the work aside in 1916 (30/6-10);   To this group of works, we have added the piano reductions of Khamma (4/13-16) – whose orchestration was mainly the work of Koechlin – and of Jeux (4/17), both of which provided the basis on which the choreography of the two ballets was devised. Moreover, some of Debussy’s transcriptions from the 1890s have never been recorded until now: —À la fontaine, an arrangement for piano solo of Am Springbrunnen from Schumann’s Op.85 set of piano duets (2/20); —Humoresque en forme de valse, an arrangement for piano solo of Raff’s Humoreske in Walzerform, Op.159, for piano duet (6/9); —Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No.2 and Airs d’Étienne Marcel, arranged for two pianos, four hands (11/8-18);   In addition to the above, we have included several arrangements of Debussy’s works made by composers with whom he was on friendly terms. The complete edition contains all the transcriptions by André Caplet (for piano solo, two pianos and orchestrations), even those carried out after Debussy’s death. Caplet’s orchestrations of two of the Ariettes oubliées (22/1415) are recorded here for the first time. Most of Caplet’s transcriptions received Debussy’s seal of approval, and the composer conducted the orchestral version of Children’s Corner (18/12-17) on several occasions and took part in performances of the two-piano version of Ibéria (10/57). The same applies to the arrangements made by Henri Busser, Jean Roger-Ducasse, Désiré-Émile Inghelbrecht and Bernardino Molinari. Ravel’s transcriptions and orchestrations are testimony to his admiration for Debussy. Finally, it is worth noting that Debussy was on good terms with the violinist Arthur Hartmann and transcribed Minstrels (13/3), one of the piano Préludes, for his friend. The two men played the piece together at a concert on 5 February 1914, alongside two arrangements that Hartmann had made with the composer’s consent: another of the Préludes, La fille aux cheveux de lin (13/15), and the second of the Ariettes oubliées, Il pleure dans mon cœur (13/14). Finally, this set features the only known acoustic recording of Debussy, accompanying Mary Garden (33/15-18) and made in February 1904 for the French Gramophone Company, as well as piano rolls of fourteen pieces made using the Welte-Mignon system and probably recorded by the composer in November 1913 (33/1-14). Denis Herlin © 2017 Warner Classics
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Classical - Released September 30, 2016 | Warner Classics

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Here, on the very same album, are recordings made far apart in time by Martha Argerich and Itzhak Perlman: Schumann’s Sonata Op. 105. Live at a concert in Saratoga on 30th July 1998 represents the first meeting between the two giants of the music scene, whereas the rest of the programme was recorded as recently as March 2016. There is romanticism above all with Schumann and Brahms - of course, the only Scherzo movement is in the “F-A-E” Sonata, a work composed jointly between Schumann, Dietrich and Brahms, but movements are commonly played individually. Argerich and Perlman end with Bach’s Baroque romanticism with one of the sonatas for violin and keyboard, where Bach himself wrote out the keyboard part instead of leaving it as a continuo. Written thusly, the score is a duet among equals, and even more so when the equals in question are these two in particular. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released August 26, 2016 | La Dolce Volta

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama
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Classical - Released August 19, 2015 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 4 étoiles de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Concertos - Released March 22, 2015 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 4 étoiles de Classica
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Classical - Released January 2, 2015 | Sony Classical

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
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Quartets - Released October 20, 2014 | La Dolce Volta

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica - Qobuzissime
This album of Robert Schumann's three string quartets by France's young Quatuor Hermès comes with Japanese translations of the booklet and track list. This raises an interesting question: as the market for music of the Western classical tradition grows in Asian countries, might unusual performances of repertory works influence the nature of the repertory going forward in countries where it is new? Certainly one could imagine a situation in which this recording caused the Schumann string quartets to be accorded a status higher than the middle-level position they enjoy in the West. The Quatuor Hermès offers readings that are both iconoclastic and executed at a very high level. In a word, they're electrifying. They seem to have tapped into the influence of Beethoven's revolutionary late quartets on Schumann and linked it to the spirit of fantasy and, to use the group's own word, madness that runs through all his music. This is Schumann of an ecstatic, arch-Romantic sort, with sharp tempo contrasts -- listen to the finale of the String Quartet in A minor, Op. 41/1, which almost, but not quite, goes over the edge -- and a passionate attitude toward the chains of melody that seem, once one has been conditioned to listen to the works this way, to have grown straight out of the likes of Beethoven's String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132. Revelatory and committed, this is a Schumann recording that will be remembered and treasured.
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Classical - Released September 23, 2013 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - 4 étoiles de Classica - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released November 22, 2010 | Warner Classics

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année
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Classical - Released September 4, 2009 | Sony Classical

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Unusual Suspects