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Chamber Music - Released April 10, 2020 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
Having already attracted attention for his exceptional gifts, Bach entered the service of the Weimar court at the age of twenty-three. This was the start of the period known as his ‘early maturity’, in which his formal and expressive experiments reflect a significant interest in French music and ‘la belle danse’. The close intertwining of French and German styles is the dominant feature of this third volume in Benjamin Alard’s recording of the complete organ and harpsichord works. ‘A remarkable complete set of Bach’s keyboard music is gradually being built up.’ – ResMusica. © harmonia mundi
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released March 27, 2020 | Claves Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
This recording was made in April 2019 at the Ernest-Ansermet Studio in Geneva, after five concerts in Switzerland during the preceding days. The desire to be as faithful as possible to the rhythm of the drama of the Passion and to the evidence of the musical sequences, which is easier to feel during a live performance than in front of the relative abstraction of the microphones, as well as a non-negligible time constraint (three and a half days in the studio for a work of 160 minutes), pushed the members of Gli Angeli Genève to record long takes, sometimes including up to 10 or 12 minutes of music, thus getting as close as possible to the feeling of a concert. In concert, with small vocal groups, Gli Angeli Genève systematically places the singers in front of the instruments regardless of repertoire, so as to give speech in music the most prominent place possible. When recording, since the audience’s crucial role cannot be replaced by the microphones, the musicians place ourselves in a large circle, all facing each other. They can see each other playing, singing, vibrating, breathing and reacting. The idea of reaction is central to this work where, when the action of the story is suspended, it is immediately replaced by emotion and poetic as well as musical beauty that Matthew’s story inspired in Bach and Picander. Airs as well as chorales. And within this circle they can react together, engage in dialogue, and see themselves feel the drama and powerful affects that mark the work relentlessly. And then they can share the pleasure and sometimes the awe - so beautiful is the music – of being able to live all this together. Forming a circle to make this music and observing the extraordinary musicians of Gli Angeli Genève at work led Stephan MacLeod (the conductor) to realise the extent to which The Saint Matthew Passion has structured the career and relationship to music of many of his colleagues. © Claves Records
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Concertos for wind instruments - Released March 27, 2020 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Giovanni Antonini, virtuoso flautist and orchestral conductor, is the founder of the Italian ensemble Il Giardino Armonico, which burst on the baroque musical scene in 1985; together they have amassed an impressive discography. Partnered by Alpha Classics, they have launched a complete recording of the 107 symphonies by Joseph Haydn, in anticipation of the 300th anniversary of his birth in 2032. Il Giardino Armonico is celebrating a composer with whose music he made his name: Antonio Vivaldi. With Antonini as soloist in a programme of his own devising recorded between 2011 and 2017, a generous bouquet of concertos "per flauto" : RV 433 (‘La Tempesta di Mare’), plus the Concertos RV 441, 442, 443, 444, and 445, and an amazing version of Cum dederit, a solo from Nisi Dominus RV 608, for the chalumeau, the predecessor to the modern-day clarinet. © Alpha Classics
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Secular Vocal Music - Released March 27, 2020 | MUSO

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama
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Cello Concertos - Released March 20, 2020 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama
After a double album dedicated to Boccherini and acclaimed by critics, Ophélie Gaillard and the Pulcinella Orchestra reveal the incredible sound palette of Vivaldi, one of the most brilliant venetian musicians. Drawing on the finest cello works of the composer, Ophélie Gaillard’s selection places great emphasis on the concerto, for one, two or even four performers. It also includes an exclusive reconstruction of the Concerto RV 788. The vocal interventions of Lucile Richardot and Delphine Galou light up the program like rays of sun through the clouds. The album alternates between moments of great emotion, sometimes even dolorous as in the Largo of the Concerto RV 416, and moments of passion and frenzy (in the Concertos RV 419 or RV 409) that evoke "The Summer" from The Four Seasons. This music thus unveils all its mysteries in the interplay of lights and shadows, giving its name to this recording. © Aparté
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Chamber Music - Released March 20, 2020 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Before Versailles, the epicentre of power in the Kingdom of France was the Louvre, a genuine theatre of ceremonies where music was duty-bound to impress with its magnificence. In the reign of Louis XIII, the air de cour and ballet mobilised the elite of composers such as Moulinié, Guédron and Chancy. The most famous of them, Boesset, guided the polyphonic air inherited from the Renaissance towards a more intimate conception: before the sumptuous splendours to come in the shadow of the Sun King. It is a rich array of delicately chiselled miniatures that the combined talents of the Ensemble Correspondances give us the opportunity to hear today. © Harmonia mundi
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released March 20, 2020 | HORTUS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Chamber Music - Released March 13, 2020 | L'Encelade

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
The programme for Pierre Gallon’s new record enjoys the high patronage of a gentleman who was famous in Parisian musical circles in the first half of the 17th century, a certain Charles Fleury Sieur de Blancrocher (or Blanrocher, Blancheroche, 1605-1652). Although he was much admired as a lutenist in his own time, he never took the instrument up professionally. We know relatively little about his life - merely that he became friends with the harpsichordist Johann Jakob Froberger (1616-1667)… and then that he died in rather comical circumstances, falling down his own stairs in the aforesaid Mr Froberger’s presence. Finally, he has left us a single piece, for the lute - L’Offrande (The Offering), which is to be found in two major sources from the period. When Blancrocher died no fewer than four composers each wrote a “tombeau” - a tribute piece - in memory of the lutenist. Froberger and Louis Couperin’s pieces were written for the harpsichord, whereas Dufaut and Denis Gaultier’s were for the lute. Although fairly different, all four are wonderful; indeed each of them is a major piece in its composer’s body of work, so the idea is to bring these four tombeaux together on record for the first time. They are the four cornerstones upon which the programme as a whole rests, and then laid out around them there will be various other pieces which are formally more conventional (preludes, dance suites, fantasias, etc.) composed by the same four composers in Paris in the 1650s. Although Couperin and Froberger both composed for the harpsichord, Gaultier and Dufaut were both lutenists, and so Pierre Gallon has transcribed their pieces on the record for the harpsichord, as people might have done at the time. Finally, the programme comes full circle by - quite literally - inviting Mr de Blancrocher to attend his own tribute, as the lutenist Diego Salamanca performs Blancrocher’s Allemande. © L'Encelade
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Violin Solos - Released March 6, 2020 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Johann Paul von Westhoff (1656-1705) was one of the most brilliant members of the significant school of violinists that flourished in seventeenth-century Dresden. This impressive virtuoso, who was even applauded by Louis XIV at Versailles, wrote the very first compositions for unaccompanied violin, which of course foreshadow the later masterpieces of Johann Sebastian Bach. The programme recorded here includes some suites from his collection published in Dresden in 1696, as well as the suite that was printed in the Mercure galant of Paris in 1683, following his visit to Versailles. © Ricercar
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Violin Concertos - Released March 6, 2020 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
After several recordings with Anima Eterna and Jos Van Immerseel, the French violinist Chouchane Siranossian tackles a programme of extremely virtuosic concertos that few Baroque violinists dare to face. Thanks to her technical gifts and to partners ideally suited to this repertory – the Venice Baroque Orchestra and its conductor Andrea Marcon, a specialist in the Italian Baroque style – she takes up the challenge with brio. This album is released to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Tartini’s death in 2020. Of special interest is a completely unknown and unpublished Concerto in G major, the manuscript of which was recently found by the musicologist Margherita Canale. © Alpha Classics
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Opera - Released March 6, 2020 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
The multitude of incomplete manuscripts of so many baroque operas and oratorios offers a very tempting playground for today's performers and musicologists. However, it is quite rare for a 21st century artist to compose an entire act from scratch. This was what has happened with El Prometeo by Italian composer Antonio Draghi, who was active at the Habsburg court in Vienna. Composed in 1669, it is one of the few operas from that time written in Castilian, which gives this discovery a vital historical importance. Draghi is a direct heir to Monteverdi and Cavalli, whose works he sang in his youth and whose style he carried forward. As was the style in his day, his music is made up of a deft mixture of comic scenes. This was a tradition that would stretch all the way down to Mozart, via the Jommelli operas that the young composer so admired. Convinced that what he had discovered was the complete manuscript, Leonardo García Alarcón had found himself trapped when he realised his mistake just as the work was due to open at the Dijon Opera. So he was obliged to either cancel the production, or to assemble other works into a "pasticcio" of the style of the 18th century. The conductor wasn't paralysed by the fear of a blank page: he put himself into Draghi's shoes to compose a whole third act: the densest, most dramatic part of the artwork, the original of which was irretrievably lost. Going beyond mere plagiarism, García Alarcón had some fun, paying tribute to Austrian opera, borrowing from Draghi of course, but also from Cesti, Caldara, and all the way up to Mozart. The result of this tour de force is a perfect illusion: his assimilation of different styles allows him to create music that's inspired by and in perfect harmony with the rest of the score. The Namur Chamber Choir, the many soloists and the bewitching colours of the Cappella Mediterranea all contribute greatly to a production whose success you can feel on this new album. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released February 28, 2020 | Alpha

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Longstanding partners Sandrine Piau and Christophe Rousset have frequently performed the Stabat Mater, an emblematic work of the eighteenth-century Neapolitan repertory, both together and with other musicians. It was therefore a natural step for them to record this supreme masterpiece of sacred music. They are joined here by a relative newcomer to Les Talens Lyriques who has also become a regular partner with the ensemble, the American countertenor Christopher Lowrey. The programme is completed by a Beatus vir by Leonardo Leo (1694-1744), sung by Christopher Lowrey, and a Salve Regina for soprano (Sandrine Piau) by Nicola Porpora (1686-1768), two totally unknown works by two composers who were nevertheless very famous at the time – Porpora, for example, was Farinelli’s singing teacher and mentor to the youthful Haydn. Christophe Rousset finds in this music ‘an expression of very Mediterranean, very highly flavoured piety, in which one moves from tears to laughter quite quickly’. Sandrine Piau sees in Leo ‘an elegance of style, a certain distance in sorrow’. © Alpha Classics
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Violin Concertos - Released February 21, 2020 | naïve classique

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique - 5 étoiles de Classica
This is the first time a French violinist has joined the line of prestigious solo virtuosi recording for the Vivaldi Edition. Violinist Julien Chauvin and his Concert de la Loge – founded in 2015, and modelled on one of the most celebrated orchestras of the late 18th century – here reveal all the discreet charms of an inventive concertante style rich in detail, featuring Vivaldi’s favoured instrument. This particular set of concerti highlight the consistently close links between Vivaldi’s instrumental and operatic works. ‘Transcending the difference of genre, the Venetian composer’s unitary conception of language and style allowed him to pass with the deft skill of a juggler from one domain to the other, making them happily converge on common ground,’ writes Cesare Fertonani. In these six concertos we can hear superbly phrased cantabile, with all the players seeming to breathe as one: and above all a sense of dramatic and narrative tension in Vivaldi’s finest vein. Musical quotations, borrowings, reworkings and affinities here bring his instrumental music and operas closer together – two genres of equal virtuosity, on which he lavished his genius in equal measure, and in every expressive register. © naive classique
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released February 14, 2020 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - 5 étoiles de Classica
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released February 14, 2020 | deutsche harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Violin Concertos - Released February 7, 2020 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Violinist Fabio Biondi has a singular capacity for finding something new and exciting in the music of Antonio Vivaldi whenever he considers it, a prodigious feat which he demonstrates with "Concerti per La Pietà", a new collection of works calling for a variety of demanding solo challenges, superbly met by Biondi and his colleagues from Europa Galante. In his Venetian years the well-spring of Vivaldian inventiveness was fed by the composer working with one of the leading orchestras of early eighteenthcentury Europe: the one at the Ospedale della Pietà, the charitable institution which took in, cared for – and educated – girls who had been orphaned or abandoned. Within the ospedale were nurtured instrumental virtuosos – known today only by their “sporting nicknames”: Bettina della viola, Margherita del arpa doppia, Lucieta della tromba, etc. Calling variously for solo violin, two violins, lute, cello, organ, or viola d’amore (Biondi plays an unreconstructed 1758 Vinaccia instrument), the concertos recorded here are drawn from across the thirty years in which Vivaldi worked at the ospedale. The freshness and personalness of Fabio Biondi’s musicmaking with Europa Galante has itself now been in evidence for a remarkable three decades and this new Album, conceived as a special 30thanniversary recording, won’t disappoint listeners ready to have their preconceptions challenged yet be stimulated by consummate musicianship. © Glossa
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released February 7, 2020 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
“A great joy”: this is how Masaaki Suzuki considers this, his second recording of the St. Matthew’s Passion, made twenty years after the first one, in the Saitama Arts Theatre in Japan in April 2019 for the BIS label. A great opportunity to revisit the work, as in the elapsed time, the conductor and his orchestra have nearly completely recorded Bach’s choral music, including the complete masses and secular and sacred cantatas. As is his custom, Suzuki works with European soloists for this new recording, like the splendid young German tenor Benjamin Bruns, playing the stupendous part of the Evangelist. There are other familiar soloists that feature here, such as Carolyn Sampson, Damien Guillon, Makoto Sakurada and Christian Immler. There is nothing monumental about this new intimate and refined version, which follows the fateful narrative with great sobriety. There is nevertheless a fervent level of impulse, as well as a certain innocence within this resolutely pared back Lutheran perspective - there is never any real search for theatricality. The exceptional instrumental quality of the soloists of the Bach Collegium Japan and the soft touches of the two choral ensembles is also worth highlighting. © François Hudry / Qobuz
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released February 7, 2020 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Bach’s St. John Passion, with its famous opening chorus traversed by shadows and light, is a powerful musical and spiritual reflection. Dramatic, grandiose, complex, resolutely theatrical: there has been no lack of superlatives to describe this supreme masterpiece of western music. Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent present an accomplished reading that reflects their knowledge of the composer, based on extensive research and deepened by countless concerts. Soloists Krešimir Stražanac and Maximilian Schmitt demonstrate the breadth of their talents in the roles of Jesus and the Evangelist. © Phi
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Chamber Music - Released February 7, 2020 | CPO

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Thirteen years ago, Federico Gugliemo and his L’Arte dell’Arco (The Art of the Bow) already payed tribute to the Florence-born violinist and composer Francesco Maria Veracini. In the 17th century, Veracini was considered as the prime violinist of his time, overpassing Corelli, Tartini or Vivaldi. Veracini achieved outstanding success in London as a violinist for the Queen’s Theatre. He lived in Dresden where, challenged by rival musicians, he jumped out of a window. Arrived lame in Prague where he stayed for a short period, he then moved back to London. But on its way to Britain, Veracini‘s ship sank in the middle of the Channel. The composer was saved and fled to Florence, where he lived a safer life writing sacred music and working as kapellmeister. Conducted by Federico Gugliemo and recorded in 2018 in the dry acoustic of Este’s Cabinet de lecture (library), the album includes series of openings, (suites), sonatas, and a Violin Concerto in D major performed by Gugliemo. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 31, 2020 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama
Handel spent many years in Italy during his youth and it was here that he composed his anti-heroic comedy, Agrippina, at the age of twenty-four, before eventually settling down in London. Its immoral, corrupt and decadent plots are presented as an inherent part of daily life for the ruling class of ancient Rome, along with their insatiable desire for political and sexual power. Handel was fascinated by Italian music and composed this particular opera in less than three weeks upon the request of a Venetian theatre, where it was then performed some twenty-seven nights in a row. Such was the enormity of the opera’s success that it firmly established the young composer’s reputation in Europe as a result. The score is bursting with emotion and has so many twists and turns that even the Venetians, who were used to these kinds of storylines, were blown away. The colourful libretto includes betrayals, assassinations, feigned love and lies of every kind – all of which are elements that the American film industry delights in incorporating into the films of today under the direction of someone like Martin Scorsese or the Coen brothers. This studio recording was made in the Dolomites in May 2019, in conjunction with a European tour and features a dazzling cast led by the fierce Joyce DiDonato (Agrippina). This is DiDonato is at her very best, combining her vocals with marvellously conducted flourishes. She perfectly encapsulates the difficult, multi-faceted role by reflecting each one of Agrippina’s personality traits, from formidable intelligence and masterful manipulation to being a loving mother and wife. Joining her onstage is an exceptional cast that includes Franco Fagioli (Nerone), Jakub Józef Orliński (Ottone), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Giunone) and Elsa Benoit (Poppea), along with the II Pomo d’Oro ensemble, feverishly conducted by Maxim Emelyanychev. This can only be described as a Handel grand cru. © François Hudry/Qobuz