Albums

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Classical - Released November 23, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Lieder (German) - Released August 24, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - 5 étoiles de Classica
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Chamber Music - Released May 25, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - 5 étoiles de Classica
It was when he heard a harpsichordist playing for the students at the university in his home town of Angers that Justin Taylor first discovered this instrument and its intriguing sound. He split his time between the piano and a harpsichord apprenticeship that he took with Olivier Beaumont and Blandine Rannou, also following masterclasses from Skip Sempé and Pierre Hantaï. What followed was a modern fairytale. The young man made furious progress, swiftly becoming a poster boy for the French harpsichord, winning the Bruges Competition and being named the musical "Revelation" of 2017, at the age of 23. A first album, dedicated to the Family Forqueray (Alpha, Qobuzissime) was showered in plaudits and soon followed by a number of concerts at prestigious festivals, which seem not to have remotely changed this young Franco-American. For his second project with Alpha Classics, Justin Taylor deftly blends Scarlatti with Ligeti, a composer he knows well, having played his formidable Continuum at the admission competition for the Conservatoire de Paris (CNSMD). In this new album, Scarlatti's harmonic daring joins a György Ligeti fascinated by the work of his distant Neapolitan colleague. The result is a real firework, lit and aimed by ten fingers which are as intelligent as they are fiendish – this artist is absolutely one to watch. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Concertos - Released March 23, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama
What if this album turned out to be the new standard version of Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto in E Minor? Judging from what we get to see of the young cellist Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, it might well be, thanks to the sumptuous, smouldering sounds that fill this interpretation from beginning to end. It would be far too tempting to compare the young German to her distant colleague Jacqueline Du Pré, for whom this concerto was a signature piece. The publisher was on the right track when they took Marie-Elisabeth Hecker's picture striking exactly the same pose as the English cellist does in one of her most famous photographs, taken when she was the young wife of Daniel Barenboim: but Hecker's head is cocked the other way to throw the observer off. Born in Zwickau in 1987, she was one of the youngest participants ever to win the Rostropovich Competition in Paris. In 2010, she enjoyed a thrilling success in her hometown, playing Concerto in A minor to mark the bicentenary of Robert Schumann's birth (he was born in the same town), conducted by Daniel Barenboim, who would no doubt have felt very touched by a scene that recalled his own youth. The attentive and careful accompaniment by Edo de Waart shows off the sonic riches of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, which he led from 2011 to 2016. Yet more proof of the high quality achieved by so many orchestras around the world today. This is an interesting pairing with a short, ultra-romantic piece by Elgar, Sospiri, transcribed here for cello and strings, whose secrets are laid bare by cellist Sol Gabetta. The Quintet for Piano in A Minor is the other major piece by Elgar to feature on this new recording. Composed in 1918, it is a very refined work, which often takes on orchestral tones, in a very Brahmsian language. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released February 23, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik - 5 étoiles de Classica
What a fascinating assembly work this is by Simon-Pierre Bestion, like creating a Grand Cru from already sublime sources. On the first hand he took The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, by Heinrich Schütz, performed as a whole – but “interspersed” with a dozen wonderful madrigals from Johann Hermann Schein’s Israelsbrünnlein. Knowing both works were made in 1623 and that Schütz and Schein were good friends, one born in 1585, the other in 86, the stars really did align perfectly. But the distinctive feature of this recording is that for Schütz’s Resurrection, the singer in the role of the evangelist is no less than Byzantine cantor Georges Abdallah, whose unique voice, elocution, magnificent art of ornamentation and micro-deviations confer this partition − deliberately designed in an archaic way – an unsuspected richness. As for Israelsbrünnlein, Bestion selected nine madrigals out of the twenty-six featured in the collection and interspersed them between each numbers of The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, thus creating a sort of new piece, co-authored by Schütz and Schein. Furthermore he redistributed Schütz’s instrumentation, initially designed for four viols, but which benefits greatly from the addition of cornets and sackbuts – creating a subtle play of sound exchanges, from one musical cell to the other. Regarding Schein, the partition was originally designed for voices, with no indication on instruments, but in line with the customs of the era, nothing prevented a line, part or cell to be assigned to an instrument or instrumental group and to exchange freely with the voices, according to the interpreters’ imagination. Some madrigals were exclusively given to the orchestral ensemble – which became a proper orchestra a-la-Gabrieli –, others were a blend of instruments and voices. As the listener may guess, here is a truly exciting album, granted very unusual and original, but extraordinarily well crafted. And of course let’s not forget the exceptional acoustics of the chapel of the Palace of Versailles, which further adds to the musical mystery of the recording. © SM/Qobuz
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Solo Piano - Released January 26, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Pianist Olivier Cavé had the wonderful idea of juxtaposing three sonatas from Beethoven’s first period – including two dedicated to Haydn, 1795 Op. 2 – and two of Haydn’s own sonatas, one from 1776 and the other from his great maturity in 1789. Of course the contrast couldn’t be greater, but the filiation is obvious, particularly regarding the freedom of tone, architecture, development and overall conception: usual standards don’t apply to the great Haydn, and seem never to have applied to Beethoven, even in his younger years. This may in fact be the main lesson young Beethoven gleaned from the old master – as we know how tense their relationship was, and started to wane from the end of 1795. Olivier Cavé, a disciple of Nelson Goerner, Maria Tipo and Aldo Ciccolini, gave his first concert in 1991 with the Camerata Lysy led by Yehudi Menuhin; his various recordings earned him several 5 Diapasons and Quatre étoiles Classica prizes, and his tours saw him perform around the world, from the San Francisco Symphony to the Festival de la Roque d’Anthéron, from New York to Tokyo and many other places in between… © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released September 22, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Whether singing, conducting, dancing or acting, the Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan is a source of fascination. Alpha Classics is proud to enter her world today and to present in 2017 her very first album as singer and conductor: with the Amsterdambased orchestra Ludwig, of which she is associate artist, Barbara Hannigan has devised a programme including Berg’s Lulu Suite and Gershwin’s Girl Crazy in a Suite newly arranged by the multiaward-winning American composer Bill Elliott. To complement these two pieces, she has recorded Berio’s spectacular Sequenza III for solo voice. An outstanding soprano, a distinguished interpreter of the music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, an all-round artist who creates a sensation on concert platforms and in opera houses throughout the world, Barbara Hannigan has enriched her palette over the past few years by devoting a portion of her activities to conducting. © Alpha Classics
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Mélodies (French) - Released February 24, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Classical - Released November 10, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released October 14, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama
Since the dawn of Christianity, Christmas has been celebrated with festive singing. In the Baroque era numerous composers such as Charpentier, Delalande, Balbastre, Dandrieu and Daquin created masterpieces out of these simple tunes. When Sofi Jeannin told me of her wish to get her ‘Maîtrise’ choir to sing Christmas music, I was delighted. For a long time I had been gathering French sources of the 17th and 18th centuries with the intention of working on baroque carol arrangements with Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien. I wanted to create something quite different from what had been done before, by treating this repertoire with proper respect: being faithful to the old sources, yet re-working the musical material to make our own personal version. The different languages, regional dialects and accents illustrate the extraordinary diversity and cultural richness of France – as well as of ‘New France’ – at that historical period.
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Classical - Released June 17, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
Romanticism replaced the element of mythological fantasy in Baroque opera with fairytale fantasy. The fairytale is omnipresent on the French stage, whether in spoken theatre, ballet or opera. It is no coincidence that Cinderella and Bluebeard so appealed to nineteenth-century composers . . . This project, initiated by the Palazzetto Bru Zane, is constructed like a ‘universal’ fairytale inspired by Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Bluebeard, Hop-o’-My-Thumb and others, as set to music by French composers of the Romantic era. It alternates between famous composers (Offenbach, Massenet, Chausson . . . and Rossini, here sung in French) and others who are still little-known (Viardot, Silver, Serpette, De Rillé, Isouard). Conceived by Alexandre Dratwicki and transcribed by him for piano quartet and two singers, a soprano and a mezzo, this imaginary opera is splendidly performed by Jodie Devos and Caroline Meng – who, at one point in the story, having sung a queen, dons breeches to play a prince. For her part, the soprano, who ends up as the winsome princess of Massenet and Offenbach, must first endure the torments of uncertain love.
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Classical - Released April 15, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
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Mélodies (French) - Released October 20, 2015 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice
The soprano Véronique Gens might be thought a natural for the French art song repertoire. But Néère, taking its title from the opening song by Reynaldo Hahn (the reference is to the Greek nymph known in English as Neaera, "white as a fine marble statue, with her rosy cheeks"), is one of just a few albums in the genre she has released. Get hold of it without delay: it's gorgeous. The French mélodie is not a high-register genre, and for a singer like Gens these songs reside in the lower part of her range, where she now brings just a bit of sultriness and smoke with devastating effect. The program includes three composers of the late 19th century who are closely related but contrasting in their individual styles: in the words of annotator Nicolas Southon "the melancholic Henri Duparc, the elegiac Ernest Chausson, the charmer Reynaldo Hahn." You could really dip in anywhere, but sample track 15, Hahn's A Chloris, for a taste of what Gens can do. The playing of accompanist Susan Manoff seems welded to Gens' vocal line, which even with all the voluptuous, erotic beauty has a kind of steely concentration that grows stronger and more impressive as the album proceeds. An absolute gem.
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Classical - Released September 4, 2015 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
For this second recording in duo, Lucile Boulanger and Arnaud de Pasquale propose a journey to 18th-century Germany, in the marvelous setting of the Sans Souci palace where Frederick II of Prussia had established his court. This disc, reflecting the extraordinary conjuncture experienced by the court of Berlin under Frederick II, brings together some of the virtuosic works for viola da gamba and fortepiano by Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, Johann Gottlieb Graun or Ludwig Christian Hesse and attesting to the results of fruitful collaborations between the composers at that court. © Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released August 25, 2015 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica - Exceptional sound
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Classical - Released May 16, 2015 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama
Russian fortepianist Olga Pashchenko has had teachers on both the Russian (Alexei Lubimov) and the Western (Richard Egarr) sides, and she might be the one to put these ingredients together into a mix that makes a historical-instrument star. Here she plays a Christopher Clarke copy of a Viennese Fritz fortepiano of 1818, not exactly contemporaneous with the music involved, but close to it and just a little bit clearer sonically. The music is early-to-middle Beethoven, with the central slots occupied by two large variation sets that exemplify the fearlessly experimental streak of the young Beethoven. The more familiar of the two is the set called here by the name Prometheus Variations, Op. 35, but better known as the Eroica Variations because the theme is the same as that used in the finale of the Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 ("Eroica"). Pashchenko exploits her instrument's chunky, big lower register well here as the theme builds innovatively out of its bass line at the beginning. Even more striking are the 32 Variations on an Original Theme in C minor, WoO 80, issued in 1808, where Beethoven seems to begin the groundbreaking experiments with Baroque style that would characterize his later years. The variations are very brief, almost like those in a Baroque chaconne, and here again Pashchenko fills out the texture with tough, knotty details. It's an exciting performance of an important work that is primarily ignored because it was never published. Pashchenko also offers performances of the Fantasia in G minor, Op. 77, and the two "easy" sonatas of Op. 49, which in Pashchenko's hands are not so easy. Exciting, serious Beethoven in which listeners will forget they are listening to a historical instrument.
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Symphonies - Released April 21, 2015 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
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Folk/Americana - Released February 10, 2015 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Classical - Released November 4, 2014 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 4 étoiles de Classica
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Classical - Released September 9, 2014 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 4 étoiles de Classica
Better known for his recordings of the music of Robert Schumann and Gabriel Fauré, pianist Eric le Sage ventures into less accustomed repertoire with this Alpha disc of the last three piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven. These pieces, like others among Beethoven's late masterworks, have an ineffable aura of sanctity about them, and performers approach them with a sense of awe, as well as a solid backlist of recordings that lead up to them. Le Sage doesn't have a discography of Beethoven sonatas, or even much Beethoven in his catalog at all, so his offering of the Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109, the Sonata No. 31 in A flat major, Op. 110, and the Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111, may come as a surprise, or even an affront to some sensibilities. Yet he plays with the transparent touch and calm demeanor of many a master, and even though he isn't likely to be credited with a major achievement until he records the rest of the sonatas, these performances are equal in technique, physical prowess, and emotional power to many other fine renditions. The sense of transcendence that unifies these three sonatas is evident in le Sage's controlled interpretations, and he lends the music a clarity that feels a little rarefied and otherworldly, especially in the closing variations of Op. 111. On the strength of these exceptional performances, one hopes le Sage has a complete Beethoven cycle in store and that Alpha will release it soon.