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Cantatas (secular) - Released November 23, 2018 | Erato

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Record of the Month - Choc de Classica
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Cantatas (secular) - Released November 2, 2018 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
Given that he wrote about 115 operas (of which at least 70 have survived to this day), 800 cantatas of all kinds, shedloads of symphonies and serenades, and dozens of the most varied kinds of liturgical works, Alessandro Scarlatti remains under-played today. The album concentrates on a few of these innumerable cantatas which are almost all preserved in their original manuscript form and quite a few of which belong to the Arcadian genre. This is to say that they deal with the bucolic mythology of nymphs and shepherds from Arcadia (in the Peloponnese in Greece) developed during the Renaissance. Love, betrayal and reunions are all displayed here, some in solo cantatas – soprano or baritone – and other cantatas in dialogue for two voices. Some have nothing but a continuo for an accompaniment, others have two violins with continuo. Everything seems to indicate that at the time of writing these pieces were meant to entertain nobles in their palaces, especially during the many periods of the year when the Church forbade public performances. Without a doubt these pieces were played once or twice and then forgotten... And here they are, rescued from oblivion by the soprano Deborah Cachet and the baritone Nicolas Achten, who, as well as singing, conducts his ensemble Scherzi Musicali and plays the theorbo, the triple harp and the organ. © SM/Qobuz

Cantatas (secular) - Released September 21, 2018 | Fra Bernardo

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Secular Vocal Music - Released September 21, 2018 | SOMM Recordings

Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
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Somm Recordings is delighted to present a revelatory collection of orchestral songs by Sir Edward Elgar (on double slimline selling as a single disc), performed by two of today’s most exciting young singers – mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge and baritone Henk Neven – accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Barry Wordsworth. Historically the least regarded part of Elgar’s output, his songs contain a treasure-trove of vocal gems and here receive performances of insight, imagination and emotional directness. The Op. 59 Song Cycle is an exemplary case in point, by turns quietly radiant, touchingly nostalgic and achingly melancholic. Two settings of poems by Elgar’s wife – the richly orchestrated The Wind at Dawn and celebratory The King’s Way (which borrows a tune from his Fourth Pomp and Circumstance March) – show Elgar at his most evocative and ebullient. Sombre and powerful, The Pipes of Pan boasts colourful imagery and driving rhythmic energy, The River and The Torch wholly Elgarian in their wonderful sonorities. A first recording of the orchestral version of the marching song Follow the Colours shows Elgar at his most patriotic. The complete incidental music for a 1901 staging of WB Yeats’ Grania and Diarmid offers a rare opportunity to experience the full gamut of Elgar’s moving and dramatic evocation of a timeless tale of love in the ancient Irish myth. A bonus disc of recordings made under the auspices of the Elgar Society showcases soprano Nathalie de Montmollin and pianist Barry Collett in a collection of piano-accompanied songs. It includes first recordings of the piano version of ‘Winter’ from The Mill Wheel (with its churning left-hand patterns and a text by the composer’s wife) and the world-weary tread of Muleteer’s Serenade, setting words from Cervantes’ Don Quixote.© Somm Recordings
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Cantatas (secular) - Released September 10, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

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Secular Vocal Music - Released August 10, 2018 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
If Le Secret is the title of a melody that Gabriel Fauré composed on a rather vapid poem by Armand Silvestre, it doesn’t seem like it inspired the title of the present album called “The Secret Fauré”, and it is rather underlining the rare and intimate character of the works. Ivor Bolton, conducting the Sinfonieorchester Basel, of which he is the artistic director, offers a very subtle selection composed of extracts of stage music or music for the stage: Caligula, Pénélope, Shylock, Pelléas et Mélisande, mixed with a few melodies orchestrated by Fauré or more probably by his friends, such as Charles Koechlin. The Russian soprano Olga Peretyatko, the new international queen of bel canto, lends her voice to the very discreet art of Fauré. Forgotten are her numerous Traviata in Berlin, at the Met or in Vienna, in favor of a song of a reserved limpidity. Alongside her, tenor Benjamin Bruns and the Balthasar Neumann female choir complete this disc devoted to a certain French spirit seen from outside, made of a blend of insouciance, discreet elegance and some futility. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released May 25, 2018 | Arcana

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
Not much is known of the life of Giacomo Gorzanis, born around 1520, and died in 1579; he was almost certainly blind, probably from birth, judging from the note written in his Third Book for lute published in Venice in 1564 ("I, blind" and "I, deprived of light"); he was probably a very famous lutist, going by the note on his First Book of lute in 1562 lauding his"long experience over many years with the lute", and he probably also sang at the court of Archduke Charles II of Austria, if the note in his Second Book of Neapolitan songs of 1571 is to be believed: "the memory I retain, as your humble servant, and the true affection I bear for you." In short, it was a full life, in which Gorzanis would publish no less than five volumes of tablature for the lute between 1561 and 1575, and two books of Neapolitan songs in 1570 and 1571, which are precious glimpses of what is probably a much broader body of work, but of which now very little remains. The subjects taken on by the villanelles and other songs run from Petrarch and Ariosto to rather more daring stuff, even making allusions to forbidden love, the eternal subject matter of "popular" songs from the Renaissance to today. These pages, while still marked with a hefty dose of polyphony in the accompaniment, turn rather more towards the new style of melody, underpinned by a simple backcloth of chords – the ancestor of canzone napoletana, as it were, in which the line sung takes precedence over any other consideration. Pino de Vittorio (who sings but also plays the naker) is accompanied by Fabio Accurso and Bor Zuljan on lute and guitar, as well as Domen Marinčič on viole da gamba and percussion – including the dulce melos, a kind of hammered zither – played by Massimiliano Dragoni. © SM/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released April 27, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Exceptional sound
We could say that the composers chosen here by Sébastien Daucé and the Ensemble Correspondances cover England from 1600 to 1700, from Coprario's generation (real name Cooper, but Italicised for fashion reasons!), Johnson and Lanier, all born before the turn of the 17th century, up to Hart and Blow who died just after. Step by step, we follow the integration of the new art brought over from Italy, although the typically-Italian recitations remain coloured by "declamation", a typical feature of English music. Another clear pivot is the twenty-year musical hiatus between the start of the Civil War in 1642 and the Restoration with Charles II's return to the throne, and in between, the Puritan religious dictatorship of Cromwell, which tried to ban more or less any form of celebration, including music. A number of English artists chose exile in the countryside, teaching music, or went abroad. This comprehensive selection spanning a whole century allows the Correspondances ensemble, a broad group of singers and instrumentalists, to show their deep knowledge of this whole epoch, which is extremely rich despite often precarious conditions of life and threats to survival. © SM/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released April 13, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice
The least that we can say here is that soprano Sandrine Piau refuses to be pigeonholed: she cheerfully steers a course from the German romanticism of Schumann, Wolf or Loewe; to Debussy, all the way to the near-Broadway work of André Prévin, by way of Poulenc, Gurney and Samuel Barber… Her crystal-clear voice rejects any vocal Italicisms (no glissandos, no cooing, no notes attacked from below, no parasitic diphthongs, and a carefully-controlled vibrato), so that we get nothing but the music – and the words of course, comprehensible regardless of the language. Her long experience of baroque song – and the world of Mozart, in which she excels – has given her magnificent rigour, but her broad repertoire, which she deploys here, is full of power, from the suavest pianissimo to the most imposing fortissimo. As for pianist Susan Manoff, she simply offers the best possible musical accompaniment to the repertoires of the Lied, of French mélodie, romance and art song: and she is especially unmissable here, alongside one of today's greatest French voices. © SM/Qobuz
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Oratorios (secular) - Released February 16, 2018 | Warner Classics

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Cantatas (secular) - Released January 26, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica
The son of one of the Twenty-four Violins of the King, Nicolas Clérambault was born in Paris in 1676. He was a precocious child: he is credited with a large choral motet, composed when he was just thirteen years old. His education was provided by excellent masters and he was a close friend of Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers, whom he eventually replaced in 1714 at the tribune of Saint-Sulpice and the Maison Royale de Saint-Louis in Saint-Cyr. In addition to a book for harpsichord, and another for the organ, Clérambault composed numerous motets, but during his lifetime already, his French Cantatas were the works that solidified his reputation: five books featuring twenty cantatas in addition to five single cantatas. They highlight his evolution, from a craft similar to his masters of the 17th century to the pure, classical style that soon became his. Apollon, Cantatte sur la paix, à voix seule, et simphonie écrite pour le Roy (Apollo, Cantata for Peace, single voice, and Symphony written for the King) dates back to the very end of Louis XIV’s rule, which was marked by war and famine; in it, Clérambault glorifies the King, often portrayed as Apollo, while echoing the overall feeling among the population: peace! His 1710 cantata Le Jaloux (The Jealous) departs from the standard framework: no action, no lauding or flattery, simply a delicious tableau of jealousy! The album’s centrepiece remains 1713 Pyrame et Thisbé (Pyramus and Thisbe), derived from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Pyramus and Thisbe love each other, but their parents are opposed to their union. A beautiful instrumental prelude precedes the first recitative, which introduces and frames this tragedy. The melody closing the cantata is in a way the moral of the story. Between these two ends, Clérambault strings together recitatives, melodies, symphonies, as if in a lyric tragedy. The A Nocte Temporis ensemble – flute, violin, viola de gamba, harpsichord – accompany tenor Reinoud van Mechelen who performs these intense moments of great French classicism with perfect conviction and diction – crucial for this kind of textual works – while respecting the pronunciation specific to that era. For instance, “l’espoir de se revoir” turns into “l’espouêr de se revouêr”! The son of one of the Twenty-four Violins of the King, Nicolas Clérambault was born in Paris in 1676. He was a precocious child: he is credited with a large choral motet, composed when he was just thirteen years old. His education was provided by excellent masters and he was a close friend of Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers, whom he eventually replaced in 1714 at the tribune of Saint-Sulpice and the Maison Royale de Saint-Louis in Saint-Cyr. In addition to a book for harpsichord, and another for the organ, Clérambault composed numerous motets, but during his lifetime already, his French Cantatas were the works that solidified his reputation: five books featuring twenty cantatas in addition to five single cantatas. They highlight his evolution, from a craft similar to his masters of the 17th century to the pure, classical style that soon became his. Apollon, Cantatte sur la paix, à voix seule, et simphonie écrite pour le Roy (Apollo, Cantata for Peace, single voice, and Symphony written for the King) dates back to the very end of Louis XIV’s rule, which was marked by war and famine; in it, Clérambault glorifies the King, often portrayed as Apollo, while echoing the overall feeling among the population: peace! His 1710 cantata Le Jaloux (The Jealous) departs from the standard framework: no action, no lauding or flattery, simply a delicious tableau of jealousy! The album’s centrepiece remains 1713 Pyrame et Thisbé (Pyramus and Thisbe), derived from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Pyramus and Thisbe love each other, but their parents are opposed to their union. A beautiful instrumental prelude precedes the first recitative, which introduces and frames this tragedy. The melody closing the cantata is in a way the moral of the story. Between these two ends, Clérambault strings together recitatives, melodies, symphonies, as if in a lyric tragedy. The A Nocte Temporis ensemble – flute, violin, viola de gamba, harpsichord – accompany tenor Reinoud van Mechelen who performs these intense moments of great French classicism with perfect conviction and diction – crucial for this kind of textual works – while respecting the pronunciation specific to that era. For instance, “l’espoir de se revoir” turns into “l’espouêr de se revouêr”! © SM/Qobuz

Secular Vocal Music - Released January 19, 2018 | Glossa

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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With Affetti amorosi Damien Guillon directs a dazzling selection of vocal works from Girolamo Frescobaldi, drawn from the Ferrara composer’s two books of Arie musicali. These arias date from 1615-1630, by which time Frescobaldi, now resident in Rome, had become a “cult” composer, and permitted great expressive freedom in the performance of his music. Purposefully offering a recording full of contrasts and singing of human and divine love, countertenor Guillon is admirably matched by the other vocal talents in Le Banquet Céleste: soprano Céline Scheen, tenor Thomas Hobbs and bass Benoît Arnould. This new Glossa recording includes two of Frescobaldi’s enduring and moving spiritual sonnets, Maddalena alla croce and Ohimè che fur as well as one of the nascent Baroque’s favoured vocal forms, the lettera amorosa, in Vanne, o carta amorosa. The singers are joined by lute, harp, cello and harpsichord from Guillon’s ensemble. In his wideranging and thought-provoking essay Pierre-Élie Mamou points out vivid characteristics of this early Baroque music – including “the play of opposites that greatly moves our souls” – notably the polarities between anxiety and pleasure, and time which passes and time which remains.© Glossa
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Secular Vocal Music - Released December 1, 2017 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason découverte
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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 17, 2017 | Sony Classical

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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 10, 2017 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Around the Franco-Italian mezzo soprano Lea Desandre – who made her big début with William Christie in the Jardins des voix, then won the "Lyrical Revelation" prize in the Victoires de la musique in 2017 – the sopranos Nathalie Pérez and Chantal Santon-Jeffery have concocted a programme that takes in many different lyrical incarnations of Berenice of Egypt and her misadventures with the King, Antigono Gonatas, through the prism of Metastasio's Antigone, which has been set to music by well over thirty composers, some focusing more on Antigone, others on Berenice. We will hear little-known airs like those of Haydn, Mozart, Johann Christian Bach and Hasse: the principle virtue of this album is that it allows us to discover these rarities, which often call for virtuoso vocal talents, and so are perfect for the voices of the three singers presented here. A rarity among rarities, we will also find a stunning air from Marianna von Martinez who held a musical salon in Vienna which received visits from... Haydn and Mozart. © SM/Qobuz

Secular Vocal Music - Released November 10, 2017 | SWR Classic

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 10, 2017 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
This project originated, Sabine Devieilhe says, from her desire to tackle Lakmé. In fact, Delibes was able to compose for her heroine some of the most memorable pages for coloratura soprano, starting with the hugely famous "air des clochettes" [Bell Song]. And as Western ears at the time were eager for musical and poetic voyages, and sensations from far-off lands, we find these same Oriental fantasies with Maurice Delage, who himself went on a grand tour of India, where he found modal colours, but also in Madame Chrysanthème by Messager or Rossignol by Stravinsky, to say nothing of the Egypt of Thaïs as portrayed by Anatole France and Massenet. Sabine Devieilhe, who won the "Lyrical revelation" prize at Victoires de la musique classique in 2013 before winning "Lyrical artist of the year" at the same ceremony – certainly not an unfair judgement of this particular artist – started her recording career with recordings of Rameau, Bach and Mozart, before launching into the lyrical repertoire from more recent years… And with great success! © SM/Qobuz

Secular Vocal Music - Released November 3, 2017 | Carpe Diem

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Secular Vocal Music - Released October 27, 2017 | Warner Bros. - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
This album is a selection of pieces from Arie antiche, a 19th Century collection of songs edited by Alessandro Parisotti to be a vocal primer. Though now more famous as the editor of Arie antiche, Parisotti was also a composer, and he managed to slip one of his own works into the book by attributing to Giovanni Pergolesi his song "Se tu m'ami". The collection was very much a part of the trend to rediscover old and forgotten works, and the popularity of the three-volume set has endured to this day. For this album the musicians of Orfeo 55 have worked painstakingly to source original scores and to edit the parts as necessary. While the instrumental works are not part of Parisotti’s primer, they provide brief musical interludes between the songs to enhance the overall listening experience and bring these works together into a coherent programme. © Warner Classics

Secular Vocal Music - Released October 13, 2017 | SWR Classic

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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