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Solo Piano - Released March 6, 2020 | harmonia mundi

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After recording Rachmaninov's 24 Preludes and a recital dedicated to Claude Debussy for his new publisher harmonia mundi, pianist Nikolai Lugansky extends his repertoire even further with a monographic album dedicated solely to César Franck. The list of piano works by this organ-playing composer was not very extensive, so Lugansky chose to perform the Prelude, Fugue and Variation Op. 18, and theChorale No. 2 , on the piano, both in the same key. Written specifically for the piano, the two triptychs Prélude, Choral et Fugue and Prélude, Aria et Final are inspired by both Bach and Liszt and had an obvious influence on later French music, particularly with Albéric Magnard (Symphony No. 3) and all the way up to Francis Poulenc (Concerto for organ ). Nikolai Lugansky constructs these pieces like a builder, with unfailing solidity. He brings out the architecture and the projections with power and fullness, while looking for what he calls "a French sound, a beauty of sonority and refined sound without lourdeur". © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Symphonic Music - Released February 7, 2020 | Alpha

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After the resounding success of Volume 1 (Gramophone Editor’s Choice, Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, Diapason d’Or, Choc de Classica, FFFF Télérama), the project to record the complete Sibelius symphonies continues with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Santtu-Matias Rouvali, whose career as a conductor is entering top gear: he has just been appointed Principal Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. At the turn of the twentieth century, as Finland struggled to free itself from Russian rule, Sibelius and his wife faced several domestic dramas, including the loss of one of their daughters, Kirsti, to typhoid fever. The Second Symphony, written in the brilliant key of D major, seems to be marked by the events of the composer’s private life, but many of his contemporaries nevertheless saw it as a political manifesto! In 1898, Sibelius composed the incidental music for Adolf Paul’s play King Christian II, the story of the downfall of a king of Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden and Norway) in the sixteenth century. The suite derived from it was successfully performed in several European cities. © Alpha Classics
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Duets - Released February 7, 2020 | Sony Classical

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Symphonic Poems - Released February 7, 2020 | BR-Klassik

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Symphonies - Released January 31, 2020 | Sony Music Labels Inc.

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Duets - Released January 17, 2020 | Alpha

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Cello Concertos - Released January 10, 2020 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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20 years old and a brazen amount of talent: the Afro-British cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason has three idols. Cellists Jacqueline du Pré and Mstislav Rostropovitch and reggae legend Bob Marley, three passionate and extrovert forces. His career really took off after he performed at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in 2018. His album Inspiration released the same year broke all sorts of sales records in the United Kingdom and his hometown of Nottingham even named a bus after him. As part of a partnership with the label Decca, he is back with a new recording, this time dedicated to the famous Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85, accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra headed by their new conductor, Sir Simon Rattle. A first class encounter which produces a poetic vision, almost like chamber music, of this renowned concerto. Made famous by Jacqueline du Pré’s versions (with Barbirolli then with her husband Daniel Barenboim), Elgar’s Concerto is accompanied on the track listing by other shorter pieces which were popular among soloists and music lovers alike a century ago, which the younger generation is bringing back in vogue. The album features arrangements of traditional music and works by Bloch, Elgar, Bridge, Fauré and Klengel. From the infinitely large to the infinitely small with the staggering virtuosity of this bright young talent. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Lieder (German) - Released January 3, 2020 | SOMM Recordings

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Symphonies - Released December 6, 2019 | BIS

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Classical - Released November 8, 2019 | Bru Zane

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France owes a great deal to the Palazzetto Bru Zane (a centre devoted to French music of the Romantic period, founded in 2009). It has brought forgotten French music back to life thanks to its research and publications and without it, we wouldn’t have known that many talented composers even existed aside from the likes of Berlioz, Debussy and Ravel. This new monographic volume of the “Portraits” series includes chamber, choral and symphonic music from Fernand de La Tombelle (1854-1928), a Parisian composer and organist who was involved in the founding of the Schola Cantorum de Paris, along with Vincent d’Indy. He is known for his extensive repertoire that covers all genres with the exception of opera. Aside from being a well-educated aristocrat originating from the Thiérache region of France on his father’s side and the Dordogne region on his mother’s side, La Tombelle was also a humanist who was passionate about poetry, folklore, photography and astronomy. The enthusiastic conductor for orchestra and choir, Hervé Niquet, is fully committed to doing justice to such unearthed works. Acting as guest conductor of the fantastic Brussels Philharmonic, he can be credited with the tense and dramatic renditions found in the first part of the album of Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra (Hannes Minnaar on piano), a work which was inspired by Liszt and Saint-Saëns, as well as two Orchestral Suites, Impressions matinales and Livre d’images, in a style that was first developed by Jules Massenet. The second volume is devoted to chamber music and boasts an astonishing Sonata for three Cellos (François Salque, Hermine Horiot and Adrien Bellom) which brings to mind Fauré (Andantino) and Edvard Grieg’s most esteemed masterpiece, Peer Gynt (Lento). The portrait also includes Piano Quartet (I Giardini) and Cello Sonata (Emmanuelle Bertrand and Pascal Amoyel), as well some additional works (Yann Beuron and Jeff Cohen) and choral pieces (Flemish Radio Choir). Further proof of the great abundance and diversity of French works. © François Hudry/QobuzGifted with a strong temperament and a curious nature, Fernand de La Tombelle is a highly appealing and interesting figure among French Romantic composers. He left a substantial œuvre, protean, stylistically eclectic, even atypical, that deserves reassessment not only for its own merits, but also because it illustrates a certain form of social and artistic activity in France at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This new albul in the Palazzetto Bru Zane’s ‘Portraits’ series reveals the multiple facets of a captivating personality, ranging from orchestral music with operatic overtones through introspective chamber works to choral music recalling the Renaissance madrigal. The sublime Fantaisie for piano and orchestra would suffice on its own to demonstrate the quality of La Tombelle’s inspiration. To champion his cause as it deserves, this set calls on no fewer than fourteen soloists, along with orchestra, chorus and conductor. © Palazzetto Bru Zane
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released November 1, 2019 | Carus

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During his lifetime Hans Fährmann was known as “the Richard Strauss of the organ.” Today the compositions of this composer and organist, who was born in 1860 in Beicha, Saxony, are largely unknown. Frieder Bernius has now devoted himself to Fährmann's sacred vocal works and has found the SWR Vokalensemble to be the ideal partner for these late romantic a cappella works, whose demanding harmonies also demand professional ensembles. The SWR vocal ensemble has mastered this challenge brilliantly. For Frieder Bernius, a conductor always on the lookout for exciting choral literature, Fährmann’s compositions represent “an indispensable and very welcome enrichment of the late romantic repertoire.” How true! © Carus-Verlag
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Symphonic Music - Released November 1, 2019 | Decca

Leinsdorf scored an enormous personal triumph early in his first season (1962-63) as the Boston Symphony’s Music Director with Mahler’s First Symphony. The RCA recording they made together duly captures much of the brilliance and dash of their live chemistry in the work, and for months after its release it remained one of the best-selling classical albums in the US. Leinsdorf’s remake of the symphony in London almost a decade later, for the Phase 4 sublabel of Decca, has enjoyed a less storied reputation, but on its first release it was preferred to the BSO version by the doyen of Mahler critics in the UK, Deryck Cooke. The Mahler was Leinsdorf’s second album for Phase 4 after a typically lucid pairing of Wagner and Richard Strauss made in 1969. ‘Bleeding chunks’ they may be, but in fact Leinsdorf rejected all the available suites from Der Rosenkavalier and made his own, observing both the chronology and the expressive narrative of the opera, and critics again found they preferred his version to any other. Leinsdorf lacked for nothing in terms of both confidence and experience on the podium, as his supremely lucid writings on the subject of conducting make abundantly clear, and he could win the absolute trust of orchestras – even ones as hard-bitten as the LSO – within a single rehearsal. Live recordings of his Rosenkavalier complete have become sought-after collectors’ items, but (like the Mahler) this Phase 4 album in sumptuous sound has been available only within a much larger box-set: this handy reissue should delight all lovers of propulsive, full-blooded performances of Romantic classics. (© Decca Music Group Limited / Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd.)
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Mélodies (French) - Released October 25, 2019 | Bru Zane

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Sacred Oratorios - Released October 25, 2019 | Musique en Wallonie

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Classical - Released October 11, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Daniil Trifonov's journey around the world of Rachmaninov is at an end. The pianist has arrived safely into the harbour with Yannick Nézet-Seguin's Philadelphia Orchestra. This finale was inspired by the bells which are ubiquitous in the Great Russian soundscape. Alain Corbin explained their importance to the rhythmic and symbolic scansion of everyday life in 19th Century France in his book Village Bells. To the historian's analysis, we can now add the testimony of the pianist – who, like Rachmaninov, grew up in Novgorod. Russian bells leant Russian music its nobility and colouring of folk nostalgia. Daniil Trifonov hasn't forgotten this, as is clear from his piano transcription of the first episode of Les Cloches. He was wise enough to respect the operatic power of the score and the splendour of its orchestration: harp, celesta and flutes are all truly transformed into bells in the hands of a musician who stays true to the aura of disquieting oddness (with its shades of Edgar Allen Poe) which surrounds the first movement. His technique matches his capricious and bubbling imagination. While we might find ourselves yawning a little at the Vocalise, the first and third Concertos move us from thrilling ecstasies to tears of pleasure. A very fine record, in which the orchestra, perhaps a little distant, fulfils its role as a soundbox for the soloist. © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Mélodies - Released October 11, 2019 | Musique en Wallonie

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The author of a famous Toccata for Organ which overshadowed the rest of his œuvre, this Belgian composer Joseph Jongen has left behind an abundant catalogue of over 137 works. Born in Liège in 1873, his musical studies were crowned with the Belgian "Grand Prix de Rome", which allowed him to travel across Europe in search of the new musical currents of the era. Melody is the unbroken thread running through his life. It was in melodic music that he started out with composition at the age of 18; he would continue to compose melodies until 1948, when his mental powers began to slowly decline. Among the 55 melodies that he left behind, we can discern three periods. First, the period of French Romanticism, born of Massenet, using some rather old-fashioned verses by Armand Silvestre, very much a poet of his time, who had inspired Bizet, Chabrier, Delibes, Fauré and Messager. Jongen's style changes and becomes more personal in the era of the "Prix de Rome"; and it becomes fully mature around the time of his English exile, which lasted throughout the First World War. It's this intimate journey that is offered here, in a very delicate treatment by soprano Sarah Defrise and pianist Craig White. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released September 6, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Leading the Lucerne Festival for two summers running, conductor Richardo Chailly has honoured composers that the musicians had never yet recorded: Igor Stravinsky in 2018, and Richard Strauss in 2019. The sumptuousness of the orchestration of the latter here affords a glittering clarity, just as much in the concertante parts as in the tutti. The writing conjures a Straussian atmosphere: a marvellously apt terrain for the Lucerne orchestra. In Zarathustra, the strings, in particular the double-basses, rumble away as under one bow, with gobsmacking precision in Von der großen Sehnsucht ("Of the Great Yearning") and Genesende ("the Convalescent"). Richard Strauss deploys a romantic counterpoint in his writing – in particular in Von den Hinterweltlern ("Of the Backworldsmen") – and the strings of Lucerne brilliantly bring his limitless lyricism to life. The following works, (Tod und Verklärung, Till Eulenspiegel and finally The Dance of the Seven Veils) bring to mind other epithets that we might apply to this perfect recording: epic majesty, burlesque humour, serpentine voluptuousness: all ingredients of Strauss's symphonic poems. The sound quality does justice to the beauty of the orchestra, and the mix doesn't leave anyone out: every counterpoint is defined, every pizzicato twangs appropriately and we hear even the softest touch of the timbal. Demanding in their extremity (in both nuance and difficulty), these scores make a perfect fit for the Lucerne orchestra, a meeting of the greatest soloists of the international stage, brought together by the festival. The only drawback comes from precisely this concentration of quality. While we are gripped by Salome's Dance of the Seven Veils, we are perhaps more impressed than moved by a piece that has been stripped of some of its finest orchestral ornamentation. © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Symphonic Music - Released August 30, 2019 | Chandos

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Best known as a composer of film music, Korngold was born in Brünn, Austria-Hungary (present-day Brno, Czech Republic) and – as both a pianist and composer – was a child prodigy. Mahler and Strauss were impressed by the young musician, and recommended he study with Zemlinsky rather than ‘waste his time’ attending music conservatory. Korngold emigrated with his family to the USA in 1934, where he went on to revolutionise the Hollywood soundtrack, composing scores for films such as The Sea Hawk, Captain Blood, and The Adventures of Robin Hood. Composed between 1947 and 1952, and dedicated to the memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, his (only) Symphony is a heartfelt response to the conflict of WWII. The premiere, in 1954 in Vienna, was under-rehearsed and not a success, and the work remained neglected until Rudolf Kempe came across a set of score and parts in Munich and resurrected it. The Theme and Variations and Straussiana were both commissioned by the Association of American School Orchestras, but Korngold makes no concessions to youth in his writing. Straussiana also reflects his lifelong love of the music of Johann Strauss II. This is the first recording with John Wilson and his new orchestra, the Sinfonia of London. The hand-picked players represent the cream of London’s orchestral musicians, and create an outstanding quality of sound that is evident throughout this exceptional recording. © Chandos
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Symphonies - Released August 16, 2019 | Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

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Classical - Released August 9, 2019 | Signum Records

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British organist Joseph Nolan has created a very fine complete recording of Widor's works for organ on three French organs, all built by Cavaillé-Coll and each as sumptuous as the others: they are the organ of La Madeleine in Paris, mainly used for the symphonies; the organ of Saint-Sernin in Toulouse and the organ of Saint-François de Sales in Lyon for the other works. Widor's works don't finish with the exciting toccata of the Fifth Symphony, although this piece – a stunning homage to French romanticism, in the spirit of Johann Sebastian Bach – is durably marked by its luminous tone. Contrary to the style of the likes of Daniel Chorzempa, a spirited and above all colourist performer (Philips), Joseh Nolan adopts measured and tranquil tempos, overexposing the architectural side of the works of this romantic French composer, who was born in 1844 – the same year as Rimsky-Korsakov – and died in 1937, the same year as Ravel, Pierné and Roussel.The heart of Widor's organ works is surely to be found in his ten symphonies, composed between 1872 and 1900. They form a thrilling bridge between Mendelssohn and Messiaen, between the Empire and the Third Republic. Widor was intensely close to the organ: having grown up the son of an organ maker, he soon showed his affinity for the instrument. All of Widor's writing shows a musician with a real head for Dionysian virtuosity: a mindset that can't leave anyone indifferent. This re-release brings together into one box set volumes which have appeared separately over the years, and Signum Classics – for whom Joseph Nolan is one of the most important artists – allow the listener to dive again into a world of music that is too-often neglected outside of organ concerts. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz