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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, 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