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Classical - Released May 15, 2008 | Mirare

Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de l'année du Monde de la Musique - Choc du Monde de la Musique - 10 de Classica-Répertoire - Exceptional Sound Recording
Viol player Philippe Pierlot, a veteran of Jordi Savall's Hesperion XX, has also built a rich catalog of recordings on his own, and this 2008 disc coupling François Couperin's Pièces de Violes is another outstanding addition. Performing with violist Emmanuel Balssa, guitarist Eduardo Egüez, and harpsichordist Pierre Hantaï, Pierlot turns in readings that are thoughtful and playful, sorrowful and joyful, depending on the needs of the music. As befits his pedigree, Pierlot has a warm tone, a virtuoso technique, and a flexible sense of rhythm. Though his leadership is subtle, it is no less palpable, and the group's ensemble is tight but relaxed with an emphasis on beauty of tone and depth of interpretation over flash playing and emotional display. This approach suits Couperin's Pièces, which range from the dour to the delighted, but without ever stepping over the line into bathos or pathos. Recorded in close but evocative sound that puts the listener in the same room with the players (rather than close but cool sound that puts the players in the same room as the listener), this disc should be heard by anyone who enjoys the repertoire, the period, the instrument, or the players. © TiVo
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released February 16, 2018 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte
The cantata Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe (Jesus gathered the twelve to Himself) BWV 22, holds a historic place in Bach’s work. Indeed he composed it while still in Köthen, as an audition piece for the position of Thomaskantor in Leipzig, and then conducted it on February 7th, 1723, maybe even singing the bass part himself. Famously the city council, unable to convince its preferred composers – Telemann, Graupner and two others –, decided to settle with “mediocre” Bach… The gospel of the day first announces his death and his resurrection by Christ and his disciplines. A modest orchestra: voices, strings, one oboe and continuo, but the musical content is – like in almost all of Bach’s cantatas – amongst the best he’s ever written. For the same celebration, Bach composed a new cantata the following year, Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott (Lord Jesus Christ, true Man and God) BWV 127. But it has almost nothing in common with the previous piece: here Bach offers a very impressive reflection on physical death. Throughout his cantatas he called for a blessed death to free himself from the vicissitudes of life on Earth, but this now reveals how much he may have feared physical death itself. The aria ”Die Seele ruht” is one of these sublime moments suspended in time, an ineffable tintinnabulum, in which the soprano and the oboe dialogue on a harrowing theme while the flutes and string pizzicatos symbolise the passing of time with incredible beauty. Finally it’s with Die Elenden sollen essen (The miserable shall eat) BWV 75 that Bach started off his work in Leipzig, in St. Nicholas Church this time, as the cantatas were alternately performed in both churches. Probably because he wanted to start with a bang, he designed this cantata on a huge scale: fourteen numbers, divided in two parts. Of course Bach would have never been able to produce such vast and powerful partitions on a weekly basis, but there is a real substance to this Passion… and it’s with great passion that Philippe Pierlot, his Ricercar Consort and the soloists perform these masterpieces. © SM/Qobuz
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released November 5, 2009 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklets + Video Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
Philippe Pierlot and the Ricercar Consort's 2006 recording of Bach's Magnificat brings back the glory days of historically informed performances, those halcyon days in the 1980s when musicians, empowered by scholarship and energized by virtuosity, were recording the Baroque repertoire with the zeal of the newly converted. Though Pierlot and his musicians are of a younger generation, they bring a missionary fervor to the music, a program of Bach's Magnificat, BWV 243, and Missa Brevis, BWV 235, interspersed with two well-chosen organ works, the Fuga sopra il Magnificat, BWV 733, and the Präludium und Fuga, BWV 541. Pierlot's textures are clean, his rhythms buoyant, his colors bright, and tempos brisk, but not rushed in the fast movements, and contemplative but not moribund in the slow movements. The Ricercar Consort plays with technical brilliance and manifest enthusiasm as an ensemble, and the violin and flute soloists deliver sparkling performances. But perhaps the best thing is the five vocal soloists and given that they also serve as the choir, their performances are even more remarkable. With clarion tones, gracious technique, and an effortless blend, they comport themselves with the ease and luster of the best jazz vocal groups, and the spirit they bring to their parts is infectious. Francis Jacob delivers forceful yet effervescent readings of the two organ works. Mirare's digital sound is as clear and as real as a blue sky. © TiVo
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released March 31, 2011 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklets Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released October 1, 2004 | Mirare

Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released May 1, 2007 | Mirare

Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released April 17, 2020 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet
Having become a film star (played by actor Jean-Pierre Marielle, who was passionate about music), Monsieur de Saint Colombe comes to us here from the comfort of his own home where he gave concerts which proved very popular with amateur musicians as well as his two daughters. His repertoire mainly consisted of dances, namely stylised dances intended for “the personal and tranquil enjoyment” of enlightened listeners. These dances were composed in suites from the middle of the 17th century onwards and follow on from one another in an order that was gradually established over time, from the most dignified or the noblest (and slowest) to the liveliest. Not only was Jean de Sainte-Colombe admired for the grace and stability of his left-hand technique, but also for his use of silver-spun strings which were very much in vogue in France at the time and added a prestigious aesthetic to his music. He was widely praised for his beautiful playing and his way of reaching chords with beautiful dissonances that lifted the spirits of his learned and cultured audience. Philippe Pierlot (primary artist, bass viol), Lucile Boulanger (bass viol) and Myriam Rignol (bass viol) invite us into this mysterious and sophisticated world on this album, with a collaboration from Rolf Lislevand on theorbo for two of the pieces. Playing excerpts from his Pieces in D, in G and in C, it becomes clear why the composer was hailed by many during the era of Louis XIV as the “Orpheus of his age”; a legendary musician in ancient Greek mythology. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released October 1, 2005 | Mirare

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Classical - Released January 1, 2009 | Mirare

Booklet
Belgium's Ricercar Consort has a long record of Bach performances that transcend national styles; it has something of the dramatic Italian approach, the lush sound from Francophone lands, and well-drilled German clarity. In this set of Bach cantatas it uses the currently fashionable one-voice-per-part approach, with the "chorus" consisting simply of the voices massed together. No doubt there is evidence that the procedure was used in Bach's time; whether it was considered desirable in North German communities where the bourgeousie observed the big choirs of noble houses and powerful churches elsewhere in Europe is another matter. The results in this collection of early works, however, are musically persuasive. Included are three early Bach cantatas, including by many reckonings the very first one, the Cantata No. 131, "Aus der Tiefen ruf ich Herr zu dir," BWV 131 (From the depths, Lord, I call out to you). This work is not at all in the usual Bach cantata patterns with chorus and chorale framing a series of arias. Instead there is a sequence of multisectional movements, with the chorale distributed around the work in the manner of a keyboard chorale partita. All three of these cantatas, including the famous Canata No. 4, "Christ lag in Todesbanden," BWV 4 (Christ lay, bound by death), look back to the 17th century -- to the intense and intimate sacred music of Buxtehude specifically -- and are among the most expressive of all of Bach's works. The madrigal-like solo textures work well here, especially when soloists of the highest caliber are present as they are on this recording. Soprano Katharine Fuge (and didn't she choose the right line of work!) and fast-rising countertenor Carlos Mena are both standouts. Sample Mena's luxuriant melancholy on the aria "Leget euch dem Heiland unter" (Submit to the savior) from the Cantata No. 182, "Himmelskönig sei willkommen," BWV 182 (May the king of heaven be welcome). The coolly intense playing of the Ricercar Consort under Philippe Pierlot supports the singers and the overall mood beautifully at every turn, and the sound is superb. A major find in the crowded Bach cantata marketplace, at least for those who buy the one-voice-per-part theory or are willing to accept it for the sake of argument. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 26, 2006 | Mirare

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Classical - Released October 16, 2008 | Mirare

The solo cantata repertory of northern Germany in the late seventeenth century took a long time to reach the realm of recordings, and now that it has it is regularly yielding new treasures. Various works by Dietrich Buxtehude have been recorded; here he is represented by a single work and is joined by his student Nikolaus Bruhns and his father-in-law, Franz Tunder. The pieces evolved in the direction of simplicity and intensity, under the influence of the religious ideas collectively known as Pietism. Italian aria styles with their regular structure and smooth melodies made their way across Germany during this period, only to be met by German poetry and its assortment of rules and rhetorical figures. The collision resulted in a level of creative tension that generated deeply felt works in a region devastated by war. The flavor of the music is given right out of the blocks in the title track, Bruhns' De Profundis (track 1), with its spectacular rising melisma at the words "De profundis clamavit" (Out of the depths I have cried). The booklet identifies some of the rhetorical figures found in the music throughout; their effect is not to restrict the music but to intensify it. Swiss-born bass Stephan MacLeod delivers power on a small musical scale, and the Ricercar Consort, featuring director François Fernandez on the violino piccolo, brings warmth and intimacy on historical instruments. This music was ignored perhaps because it does not lead directly to Bach, but it has a great deal to tell the listener about German Protestantism and its musical impulses. A superb disc of solo sacred music. Notes are in French, English, and German. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 25, 2007 | Mirare

Booklet
The Stabat Mater Dolorosa is a sequence, not a chant, and no unified melody was established for it until the mid-nineteenth century; it was even banned for a time by the Council of Trent, but restored to liturgical use in the late 1720s by Pope Benedict XIII. Much as Prohibition did not stem the tide of alcohol use, the Council of Trent's ban on the text did not diminish the popularity of the Stabat Mater. It was during the official, 160-year-long period where the Stabat Mater was not heard in churches that Giovanni Felice Sances composed the title work on this Mirare CD Stabat Mater, featuring Carlos Mena, Philippe Pierlot, and the Ricercar Consort. This was given, not in a cathedral, but for performance in the Viennese Court, or, even more likely, in Emperor Leopold I's private chapel. On this disc, the Ricercar Consort programmed examples of at least three generations of seventeenth century Baroque musicians who worked at the Hofkapelle in Vienna, beginning with that represented by Sances and Antonio Bertali, imported Italians residing there in the early part of Leopold's reign. German Johann Heinrich Schmelzer briefly held the post in 1679-1680, but perished from the plague, so another Italian, Marc Andrea Ziani, followed him. Johann Joseph Fux, who succeeded Ziani, would not assume the post of hofkapellemeister until 1715; by that time both Leopold I and his successor Joseph I were already dead and Charles IV was Holy Roman Emperor -- Fux had been his music teacher when he was a boy. It is extremely useful to have the music of the seventeenth century House of Hapsburg set out in a program like this -- while many of these works, or ones like them, have been recorded, it is usually out of context, or within the context of individual composers. Not that such context is easily established; very little of this music was published, and nearly all of the Austrian manuscript music of the seventeenth century comes from a single source: the great, disordered heaps of manuscript held at Castle Kromeríz in the Czech Republic. Much of the music here was taken from published editions, particularly Schmelzer's, and he is heavily represented considering his time as hofkapellemeister was limited to only about six months. But the Ricercar Consort's playing of his music is very enjoyable; it is fleet, nicely blended, and colorful owing to the choice of viols, the studied ensemble sound, and the employment of a harp in the continuo. Sances' setting of the Stabat Mater is one of the most moving and beautiful in the repertoire, although it is not conceived on the grand scale of Pergolesi's later and considerably more famous pre-classical setting. The singing by Carlos Mena is a delight, and there is a setting of the Regina Coeli by Leopold I himself that demonstrates a high level of musical sophistication for a Royal. For fanciers of middle Baroque music, Mirare's Stabat Mater is well worth your time. © TiVo
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Classical - Released December 15, 2005 | Mirare