A sensational new figure on the Baroque music scene in the early 2000s, conductor Emmanuelle Haïm electrified audiences with her passionate interpretations of operatic and choral works. She has never studied conducting formally, and, like many other performers involved with older repertoire, she first came to early music only in adulthood. In her deep ancestry was a family of Breton organmakers, and her Hungarian stepfather passed time as friends with both Andras Schiff and Zoltan Kocsis. Emmanuelle and her siblings performed chamber music at these high-level gatherings, and she soon decided on a musical career. At first Haïm studied piano, but in her mid-twenties she switched to harpsichord because she wanted to participate in a performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion and couldn't think of another way to become involved. Among her teachers at the Paris Conservatoire were Kenneth Gilbert and Christophe Rousset, and she was soon pulling down top prizes. Her harpsichord skills were spotted by conductor William Christie, and for a decade Haïm performed with his ensemble, Les Arts Florissants. Working with Christie, she absorbed the principals of conducting. "Bill is a showman; he has a sense of the life and rhythm of a show," Haïm later explained to the Independent. She also performed Baroque and Classical repertory with big-name conductors such as Simon Rattle, who would later encourage her in her own conducting efforts. And she was a noted accompanist who worked with Cecilia Bartoli, among others. Haïm's conducting debut was as unplanned as her turn toward the harpsichord; a group of instrumentalist friends wanted practice working with singers, and Haïm agreed to helm an impromptu ensemble. She began to find opportunities as a Baroque opera conductor, and in 2000 she formed an ensemble of her own, Le Concert d'Astrée. That put Haïm and her enthusiasm squarely in the spotlight ("like a ballerina on speed" was the Independent's description of Haïm in rehearsal), and engagements and support began to flow her way. (Le Concert d'Astrée is backed by France Télécom, but not by the French government.) In 2003 Haïm conducted Monteverdi's Orfeo at the Barbican in London in a series of six sold-out performances featuring star tenor Ian Bostridge. She made numerous guest-conducting appearances, but declined chances to move into mainstream repertory. Haïm conducted Orfeo in 20 performances across France in the 2005-2006 season. She was the first woman conductor at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, leading Giulio Cesare in 2007. As her reputation has grown, so have the demands on her schedule as more groups invite her to guest conduct concerts and recordings, as Concerto Köln did in 2010 for Caldara in Vienna.
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released October 24, 2014 | Erato - Warner Classics
Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles de Classica
A spectacular version on period instruments in historically informed style, Emmanuelle Haïm's rendition of George Frideric Handel's Messiah with Le Concert d'Astrée was among the finest to appear in 2014. Vigorous in rhythm and brisk in tempo, the performance is extremely lively and exciting, without a trace of traditional religiosity or stodginess, and the drama inherent in Handel's music is brilliantly realized in the energetic singing and playing. Featuring soprano Lucy Crowe, countertenor Andrew Staples, tenor Tim Mead, and bass Christopher Purves in a well-balanced quartet, and a chamber choir and orchestra that are as limber as they are lean, the oratorio moves at a rapid clip and takes little time to brood. Even the customarily slow numbers move along at a comfortable walking pace, and Haïm ensures that they maintain interest through transparent textures, fresh ornamentation, and forward momentum. This interpretation may be a little too exciting for listeners who like their Messiah reflective and reverent, but fans of the streamlined counterpoint and scintillating timbres of Baroque performance practice will enjoy the vitality and bright sonorities of this recording. Highly recommended, whether on CD, SACD, or digital download.
Classical - Released November 25, 2005 | Warner Classics
Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, an unstaged serenata composed for a ducal wedding in Naples in 1708, is not to be confused with the slightly more operatic Acis and Galatea, written in London in 1718. Both adapt a tale from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the Italian work is bolder in conception and far more virtuosic than its English pastoral counterpart and features some of Handel's finest arias. Haïm’s spirited and imaginative direction is complemented by Aci superbly sung by Laurent Naouri showing his wide range in the extremely demanding role of Polifemo and Sandrine Piau with her brilliant, steely yet still sweet soprano, used with quasi-instrumental technical accomplishment. © Warner Classics
Classical - Released October 26, 2018 | Warner Classics
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