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Classical - Released January 1, 2003 | Alpha

Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - 10 de Classica-Répertoire
Will the wholesale rediscovery of Baroque music eventually slow down? Surely, but it's hard to see the endpoint right now. This disc by French Baroque violinist Hélène Schmitt offers music by the virtually forgotten Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli, a student of Corelli who arrived in England in 1719. His music is clearly influenced by the virtuoso styles of his teacher but takes them a step in the direction of the lighter, more seductive mood of the galant era. The 1713 painting by Sebastiano Ricci that is examined in the booklet is an exact counterpart for the music recorded here, and this series on France's Alpha label is highly recommended to art lovers -- they offer a sort of instant crash course in art history and in the relationships among the arts in French culture. There are six sonatas for violin and continuo, all but one in four movements (one of the four-movement pieces has an interpolated guitar finale by another composer), generally following the Corellian church sonata model of abstract fast and slow movements rather than dances. The performances here are magical. Schmitt, whose pictures in the booklet have the same soft beauty as the figures in the painting under discussion in the notes, is a superb young Baroque violinist, improvising ornaments here with an appropriately light touch. The continuo group has a cello, a guitar, and a harpsichord (or organ) -- it's unusually large, but it fits this music beautifully; the addition of the guitar gives a languid feel that rounds off the edges and catches the peculiar flavor of Carbonelli's music, fancy, relaxed, and sweet. The close-up miking picks up a good deal of instrumental noise -- listen to the music in close quarters or on headphones, and you'll find it distracting. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2002 | Alpha

Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - Recommandé par Répertoire
Helene Schmitt is hot stuff. In this disc of violin sonatas by the nearly unknown Ignazio Albertini, the contemporary of Biber and Schmelzer comes passionately alive under her supple bow and sensitive fingers. In Schmitt's performances, the wildly virtuosic and extravagantly emotional music of Albertini sounds like it could only have been composed by a man stabbed to death in obscure circumstances. There's poise and grace in Schmitt's performances, as well elevated lyricism. But most of all there's passion: a passionate intensity of line, a passionate concentration of tone, a passionate brilliance of color, a passionate love of this fiercely expressive and violently beautiful music. Schmitt's trio of continuo players are sympathetic players and each gets his/her own sweet solo Prelude or Toccatina interspersed with Schmitt's Sonatas. Alpha's sound is tactile in its realism and its tiny but stunning reproduction of Guido Cagnacci's The Death of Cleopatra is a visual treat. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique
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Classical - Released January 1, 2006 | Alpha

Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique
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Classical - Released February 17, 2011 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklets Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
The handsome releases of France's Alpha label, pairing music with directly or indirectly relevant artworks that are analyzed in detail in the booklet, offer listeners an opportunity to reflect on the connections between art and music at a given time. Sometimes they also simply serve to evoke a historical moment authentically and vividly. Mozart and the artist involved here, Louise Élisabeth Vigée-Le Brun, were almost exact contemporaries. The subject of Vigée-Le Brun's painting, Russian Countess Skavronskaya, had an eventful life that included a stint as mistress of Grigori Potemkin, the notorious courtier of Catherine the Great. The historical-instrument performances of Mozart's violin and piano sonatas by fortepianist Rémy Cardinale and violinist Hélene Schmitt are spacious, dramatic, and a bit unsettled, emphasizing Mozart's incipient transformation of the traditionally female genre of the piano sonata accompanied by violin into something new. Beethoven's Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 12/1, makes the perfect conclusion; in many genres Beethoven followed Haydn, but in the violin sonata he followed Mozart in brilliance, beauty, and restless elaboration on existing forms. An exceptional performance of this repertory, splendidly presented and recorded. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 1999 | Christophorus

Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released January 1, 2007 | Alpha

Johann Heinrich Schmelzer has enjoyed a considerable revival of fortunes since Romanesca's trailblazing recording of his music for Harmonia Mundi in 1996; although at least one critic since has referred to Schmelzer as "pretty ensconced on the list of obscure composers," the extent to which Schmelzer has been recorded and adopted by violinists since 2000 doesn't bear that out. Hélène Schmitt, after a fashion, serves as Alpha Productions' in-house Baroque violinist and, apart from Uccelini, has generally avoided recording the same material that Manze has put his nimble fingers to. In the case of Johann Heinrich Schmelzer: Sonatae a violino solo, she does so mostly by virtue of recording new discoveries in Schmelzer's worklist, though it does also include the now familiar sonatas Quarta and Quinta from the Sonatae unarum fidium. Here, Schmitt is joined by a crack continuo group consisting of violone player Jan Krigovsky, theorbist Stephan Rath, and Jorg-Andreas Bötticher, who opts for a Clavierorganum rather than an organetto or harpsichord to fill out the continuo. The A minor and B flat major sonatas and the Sonatina in G minor are all "new," located in manuscript at the British Library and recorded for the first time here. The Gigue dite Pfefferstossl (Pepper Mill Jig) is found in two manuscripts at Klagenfurt and Vienna, respectively, with the A major Ciaccona in Vienna alone; neither of these appear to have been recorded either. Among many virtues that can be singled out among these previously unknown works, the B flat major sonata includes a striking "Fantaisie sur une basse Obstinée," a movement where the violin spins out an ever increasingly complex set of variations of a ground bass that's constantly rising upward. Along the way we are treated to a theorbo sonata by Giovanni Pittoni and Toccata by Wolfgang Ebner; now there are a couple of names that are "ensconced on the list of obscure composers!" In the context of the ensemble works, the Clavierorganum works well and adds a considerable amount of color to Schmelzer's Sonata Quarta, but it is hard to get used to the sound of it in Ebner's Toccata -- it almost resembles one of those electronic keyboard settings that combines the sound of two instruments. Comparisons from Schmitt to Manze in this literature are hard to avoid, especially as the choice of continuo is so similar. One aspect of Alpha Productions' Johann Heinrich Schmelzer: Sonatae a violino solo that decidedly does not work in Schmitt's favor is that the performance of the Sonata Quinta is paced a bit too broadly, resulting in an effect that comes off as rather routine. The new discoveries are all quite compelling, however, and the Sonata Quarta is at least comparable to that by Romanesca; Bötticher's employment of the Clavierorganum turned out, in the end, to be a good strategy. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 5, 2010 | Christophorus

Booklet
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Classical - Released November 15, 2019 | Maguelone Music