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Classical - Released June 23, 2011 | Alpha

Booklets
Love Is the Cause brings together two instruments rarely heard combined as a duo: viola da gamba and Baroque guitar. The guitar is an obvious choice for playing these Scottish folk melodies, taken from collections made in the 17th and early 18th centuries. The gamba is a less likely candidate for this repertoire, but is no less effective; it has a slightly archaic timbre, can produce a folk-like tone, and is good at creating an atmosphere of soulful melancholy. The gamba, using multiple stops, is as capable as the guitar of creating its own harmonies, so there are numerous tracks where each instrumentalist is featured as a soloist, and those are among the most effective on the album. On the tracks they play together, they divide the melodic and accompanimental responsibilities. Among the duets, the most successful are the tracks in which the gamba joins the guitar in plucking the strings rather than in bowing, creating the effect of a duet of two equal instruments, as well as the tracks in which the gamba plays the melody with guitar strumming the accompaniment. The music is likely to be unfamiliar to most listeners; even Auld Lang Syne and Coming Through the Rye are heard in versions in which the melody differs so radically from the familiar one that they are barely recognizable. The prevailing tone of the album is one of gentle wistfulness, although several lively dances are included. Gamba player Jonathan Dunford and guitarist Rob MacKillop play with immaculate technique and with sensitivity to both folk tradition and the emotional essence of each piece. The album was recorded at a 17th century country house outside Edinburgh where the only ambient sound is the occasional distant birdsong, a lovely serendipitous effect. Alpha's sound is clean, present, detailed, and intimate. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 21, 2010 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released September 24, 2009 | Alpha

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Classical - Released July 10, 2008 | Alpha

Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc du Monde de la Musique
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Europe - Released April 1, 2008 | Alpha

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Classical - Released March 13, 2008 | Alpha

This recording is a manifesto: modernism, culture, temporality, style, improvisation are all concepts with which Joël Grare plays, like a juggler. At a time of globalisation, of standardisation of cultures, this disc lets us hear the vision of the world of one man, at one given time. The Paris-Istambul-Shanghaï Ensemble (Chinese violin, theorbo, bass and percussions) forms the musical base of this invitation to travel. The guests, such as Claire Lefilliâtre, contribute their personnality by taking up the learned or popular themes. This "group", somewhere between a chamber music ensemble and a traditional one, plays standards like Jazzmen. Their standards? Magnificent themes stemming from Spain, Turkey, China, ancient music...Analysing these melodies well beyond their borders, thoroughly enjoying them to interpret them better, improvising, composing, whether or not in the style of their country or their period, following his mood, the taste of tea, the moment; welcome to the world of Joël Grare.
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World - Released July 1, 2007 | Alpha

Rayon de Lune (Moonbeam) is the second release of Arab-Andalusian music by the French ensemble Aromates, directed by Michèle Claude. The Arab-Andalusian tradition, which is closely related to Sephardic music, traces its roots to the Middle Ages, when Arab learning and commerce made the Andalus one of the liveliest and most diverse cultural centers of Europe. It developed a highly sophisticated musical tradition and a rigorous pedagogy for transmitting its practice from one generation to the next. Its rhythms were often remarkably complex in comparison to contemporaneous European music, using meters such as 17/8, 13/8, and 14/4. The selections recorded here are mûwashshah, songs with verses and refrain, and intricately ornamented melodic lines. In the instrumental arrangements of the songs, Claude uses a wide assortment of Renaissance, modern, and non-western instruments, including vielle, gamba, string bass, flute, psaltery, lute, and organetto, as well as a wonderfully diverse percussion battery that includes instruments like the djembe. The character of the music is close to that of contemporary traditional music with near eastern origins, but the diverse instruments give it a distinctive mix of old and new sounds. One of the outstanding qualities of the music (and these performances in particular) is its ability to simultaneously express rhythmic vitality and languid ease. This reconciliation of opposing elements is completely engaging and invigorating. The unique repertoire, fine arrangements, and energetic performances make this a disc that should appeal to fans of world music, near eastern folk music, and early music. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2006 | Alpha

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World - Released January 1, 2005 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released January 1, 2004 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - Timbre de platine
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Classical - Released January 1, 2004 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - 5 croches d'Opéra International
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Gospel - Released January 1, 2004 | Alpha

Hi-Res Distinctions 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released January 1, 2004 | Alpha

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World - Released January 1, 2004 | Alpha

Distinctions 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique
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Classical - Released January 1, 2003 | Alpha

This French release is a percussion album in the widest sense; the instruments all can be struck, but as played by Joël Grare they are sounded in various ways, including bowing (as on the edge of a bell) or plucking (a Vietnamese jew's harp). The jew's harp appears in "Wu's Next," track 9, a section of one of the three multi-movement pieces on the disc. Except for the opening Follow, played on a set of eight tuned French cowbells plus a Middle Eastern camel bell and an Indian cymbal, these larger units are only loosely connected; the focus is on the individual sections, where the possibilities contained within an individual instrument or group of instruments are explored imaginatively and even spectacularly. "Wu's Next" is a good place to start in sampling the program. Its title refers both to Grare's choreographer/collaborator Wu Zheng (and it would indeed be a treat to experience this music along with its dance component) and to the Who's Next album by the rock group The Who. The rock allusion will become delightfully clear to the listener (refresh yourself with "Won't Get Fooled Again" if you weren't a rock & roller at the time), and the work also carries an acknowledgment of inspiration by U.S. minimalist Terry Riley (also the recipient of a dedication from Pete Townshend of The Who in the form of "Baba O'Riley"). It is the combination of abstract thoroughness and gleeful connections with other music that makes Grare's playing so attractive -- he surprises but never lets the music devolve into a series of shocks, and his music is highly approachable despite a generally unfamiliar and indeed self-generating musical language. Some of the connections come simply through the vast variety of instruments employed; Grare goes even beyond the array of percussion employed by Evelyn Glennie on some of her more adventurous albums to include, within the scope of a single section ("Seve'n'seg"), Japanese drums, a Chinese gong, cymbals, a Mozambican xylophone, a thumb piano, Syrian frame drums, "demon-scaring sticks" from Indonesia, and a Latin box drum. Rhythmic concepts from non-Western traditions are introduced in simple form to go with the drums that would normally embody them. A delightful and stimulating experience for percussion lovers, beautifully recorded. © TiVo
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Latin - Released January 1, 2003 | Alpha

Distinctions 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique
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Europe - Released January 1, 2003 | Alpha

Distinctions 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique
The French label Alpha, in addition to its marvelous series of releases of Baroque and Classical-era music, has issued various unusual discs devoted to indigenous European traditions that are little known among Americans. One was devoted to the tarantella and contained fascinating lore about the tarantula spider whose bite inspired that folk dance. La votz deus Anjos focuses on a type of improvised male polyphony from the Pyrenees mountain region. It's sung in bars and cafes, apparently often after sports events, and one imagines it as a kind of drunken harmony singing. Sports metaphors are natural enough in music, which fuses teamwork and individual virtuosity, but probably no one before the liner note writers on this disc has likened a musical performance to entering a rugby scrum, rugby's much rougher equivalent to the basketball tip-off. The singing is all-male, with no instruments. Each line of music consists of a rhythmically free series of notes ending with a single long note, rather like the lined-out hymnody of England and the rural southern U.S. These singers, however, do not enter antiphonally in the lining-out manner, but instead pick up on the melody and harmonize with it. Though the sound is quite unusual, each selection sounds much like the others, and a quick sample will determine the music's appeal for you, the listener. The texts, mostly old love songs, are in the Occitan dialect of southern France, and a noteworthy feature of the album is that Occitan liner notes are included along with French and English. The vocal group Balaguèra does a good job of reproducing the rough texture of barroom singing, adding just enough control to make it sound more pleasant than real barroom singing usually is. One wonders whether they might have had singers drop out and enter more often, to produce more of an improvisatory feel. On the whole, though, this disc is a curious find that will produce curious questions at your next social gathering. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2002 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - 10 de Répertoire - Recommandé par Classica
This album is not just about the southern Italian tarantella dance; it actually proclaims itself as an antidotum Tarantulae, an antidote to the bite of the tarantula. Both the spider (which is not the same animal as the feared tarantula of the southwestern U.S.) and, indirectly, the dance are named for the city of Taranto in southern Italy. La Tarantella presents tarantellas interspersed with other songs of the region, some traditional, others with known composers. The texts of the vocal pieces are in southern Italian dialects, translated in the booklet into modern Italian, French, and English. The liner notes, in French and English only, are a delightfully diverse lot, with excerpts from writings dating back to the Renaissance, medical and more metaphysical musings on the "tarantism" phenomenon, and several passages that invite the listener to experience the tarantella phenomenon for herself or himself. The pieces included touch not only on the dance but on phenomena that influence the bodily "humors" that the spider's poison was thought to affect. Thus there are songs of love, night, poverty and alms-giving, and more. Some are dances with lots of percussion, others are melancholy. As L'Arpeggiata leader Christina Pluhar writes, "Each of these pieces presents a musical universe in itself, and is functional, therapeutic music, which could stretch over several hours or days, as required. The decision to enclose these dances in a restricted period of time has a practical basis: the real amount of time that can be pressed on a CD." Keep this in mind if L'Arpeggiata gives a concert in your town! "It is left up to the listener to play the pieces in sequence, or to pick out a song that elicits a particularly strong reaction from him," Pluhar goes on. Plainly, this is one of the more original album conceptions of recent years. If you're afraid of spiders, don't buy it; there are several close-ups of the beasts in the booklet notes. And, since the tarantella is still ritually danced in certain southern Italian towns, it would be interesting to know whether it's a louder thing, danced to music with a stronger tendency to break down physical and mental defenses, than what Pluhar presents here. The dominant sound on La Tarantella is Pluhar's Baroque harp, accompanying some very expressive but subtle singers. These questions aside, La Tarantella is quite an intellectual adventure, and you can't say that about every early music release. © TiVo

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