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Classical - To be released July 10, 2020 | Alpha

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Classical - To be released June 5, 2020 | Alpha

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Chamber Music - Released April 24, 2020 | Alpha

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Beethoven’s output for fortepiano and violoncello is fascinating because it covers every period of his career, from early to late, with references to Bach in Op. 69 and Op. 102 No. 2 and an especially innovative and amazingly modern musical language. For this complete set, which includes the Variations on a theme from Handel’s "Judas Maccabaeus" and the Variations on a theme from Mozart’s "Die Zauberflöte", Nicolas Altstaedt was keen to record on an instrument with gut strings, a Guadagnini from Piacenza dated 1749, and using a Classical bow. Alexander Lonquich, his faithful recital partner – they been inseparable companions since the day Altstaedt replaced his teacher Boris Pergamenschikow for a concert of Beethoven sonatas with Lonquich at the Beethovenfest in Bonn in 2004 – here plays a Graf fortepiano of 1826. The combination of these instruments produces a finely balanced sound and exceptional tone colours. This recording is Nicolas Altstaedt’s first for Alpha as a soloist. Others will follow, in very different genres, for eclecticism is the hallmark of this musician, among the most promising of the new generation. © Alpha Classics
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Symphonic Music - Released April 24, 2020 | Alpha

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Is the imitation of rolling thunder, howling winds and bleating sheep a form of musical composition worthy of the name? Can we take seriously a composer who boasts of being able to ‘set a restaurant menu to music, if need be’? These were the kinds of questions that Richard Strauss, one of the most virtuosic composers of the so-called ‘programme music’, had to ask himself. His answer: ‘I am a musician from head to toe; for me, all “programmes” are merely incentives to invent new forms, nothing else.’ The NDR Orchestra, conducted by Krzysztof Urbański, has chosen to devote its sixth Alpha Classics recording to three of Richard Strauss’s most famous symphonic poems: Also sprach Zarathustra Op. 30, Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche Op. 28 and Don Juan Op. 20. © Alpha Classics
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Concertos - Released April 17, 2020 | Alpha

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Beethoven’s Piano Concertos are a precious source for understanding the history of the practice of this instrument, which, in the early nineteenth century, permanently replaced the harpsichord in the hearts of composers. Thus one can still hear the galant influence of Mozart in the First Concerto (1795-1800), whereas the Fourth (1805-06) reveals the introspective personality, at once vigorous and generous, of a Beethoven at the height of his artistic maturity. In the second instalment of his recording of the complete concertos, the German pianist Martin Helmchen performs these two contrasting works with Andrew Manze and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. © Alpha Classics
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Chamber Music - Released April 17, 2020 | Alpha

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released April 10, 2020 | Alpha

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The gestation of this project lasted two years. Anna Prohaska and Julius Drake finally concentrated their research on the themes of Eve, Paradise and banishment. Some songs were obvious choices, such as Fauré’s Paradis, in which God appears to Eve and asks her to name each flower and animal, or Purcell’s Sleep, Adam, sleep with its references to Genesis. But Anna Prohaska also wished to illustrate the cliché of the woman who brought original sin into the world and her status as a tempter who leads man astray, as in Brahms’s Salamander, Wolf’s Die Bekehrte or Ravel’s Air du Feu. In Das Paradies und die Peri, Schumann conjures up the image of Syria’s rose-covered plains. Bernstein also transports us to the desert with Silhouette.. John Milton’s seventeenth-century masterpiece Paradise Lost was the inspiration for Charles Ives and Benjamin Britten, also featured in this very rich programme that constitutes an invitation to travel and reflection. © Alpha Classics
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Symphonic Music - Released April 10, 2020 | Alpha

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Some music lovers are familiar with Ce qu’on entend sur la montagne, Liszt’s symphonic poem based on Victor Hugo. But who knows that, ten years earlier, César Franck was inspired by the same poem? This early piece is recorded here by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France conducted by Mikko Franck. They couple it with the famous Symphony in D minor, dedicated to Henri Duparc and premiered, without much success, in 1889. Even if the score is quite well-known today, in the end it is performed quite rarely, which is a pity, because it really has all the characteristics of a masterpiece: melodic and harmonic inspiration, refined orchestration, variety of mood, an ingenious structure. Two works by Franck . . . by Franck! This album marks the beginning of a collaboration between Alpha and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, which will focus on very varied repertories. © Alpha Classics
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Mélodies (French) - Released April 3, 2020 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
As the symbiosis between the art of the poet and that of the composer, the French mélodie became the jewel of the salons of the ‘Belle Époque’. By placing a string quartet and a piano around the singer, Chausson’s Chanson perpétuelle, Lekeu’s Nocturne and Fauré’s La Bonne Chanson oscillate between chamber musical intimacy and orchestral ambition. Alongside these famous pioneering pieces, this programme devised by the Palazzetto Bru Zane champions a return to the art of transcription, so popular in the nineteenth century, with the aim of expanding the repertory for voice, strings and piano in order to unearth some forgotten treasures. Hence Hahn, Berlioz, Saint-Saëns, Massenet, La Tombelle, Ropartz, Louiguy and Messager all appear in a programme whose guiding thread is the emotions of nocturnal abandonment: the charms of twilight, the trajectory of dreams, the terror of nightmare or the exhilaration of festive occasions. Alexandre Dratwicki has made these arrangements in the style of the nineteenth century. Appropriately enough, the programme ends with La Vie en rose, for this music offers a kaleidoscope of all the colours of human feeling. The texture of solo strings and piano sets Véronique Gens’s incomparable storytelling artistry in a new ligh. © Alpha Classics
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Classical - Released April 3, 2020 | Alpha

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Between 1680 and 1728, Marin Marais brought the 'pièce de viole' to the peak of perfection. An ‘unremitting’ teacher, he was also the publisher of his own music and invented special signs to notate certain ornaments for the viol. In the course of his research at the Salzburg Mozarteum, the Italian gambist Vittorio Ghielmi studied these manuscript codes, in the hand of Marais himself or his direct students. ‘This led me to a new vision of French Baroque music, which applies not only to the viola da gamba, but also to vocal and orchestral music. These signs reveal the technique of playing in action. Contrary to the static descriptions of the treatises of the time, one has the impression of seeing didactic “videos”’. This album, entirely devoted to the music of Marais, alternates récits for solo viola with orchestral pieces, all of them reinterpreted in the light of the new discovery of Monsieur Marais’s ‘codes’. In addition to Parisian viols of the time, Vittorio Ghielmi owns an instrument by the famous luthier Michel Colichon (a friend of Marais’s teacher Sainte-Colombe), made in Paris in 1688. Only two of the five surviving viols by Colichon are still in playable condition. © Alpha Classics
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Concertos for wind instruments - Released March 27, 2020 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Giovanni Antonini, virtuoso flautist and orchestral conductor, is the founder of the Italian ensemble Il Giardino Armonico, which burst on the baroque musical scene in 1985; together they have amassed an impressive discography. Partnered by Alpha Classics, they have launched a complete recording of the 107 symphonies by Joseph Haydn, in anticipation of the 300th anniversary of his birth in 2032. Il Giardino Armonico is celebrating a composer with whose music he made his name: Antonio Vivaldi. With Antonini as soloist in a programme of his own devising recorded between 2011 and 2017, a generous bouquet of concertos "per flauto" : RV 433 (‘La Tempesta di Mare’), plus the Concertos RV 441, 442, 443, 444, and 445, and an amazing version of Cum dederit, a solo from Nisi Dominus RV 608, for the chalumeau, the predecessor to the modern-day clarinet. © Alpha Classics
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released March 27, 2020 | Alpha

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A composer who led a dissolute life and ended up stabbed to death in Genoa, Stradella nevertheless left a distinctive stamp on the history of music. He is situated at the intersection of several stylistic paths and periods, at the crossroads between opera and sacred drama, since his output, and especially San Giovanni Battista, marks the encounter of the great Roman oratorio inherited from Carissimi with the Venetian opera of Cavalli. Stradella is also close to the next generation, that of Scarlatti and Handel. His music is characterised by liveliness, expressiveness and profound humanity. Although San Giovanni Battista enjoyed genuine success when it was premiered in 1675, it was only in 1949 that the work was exhumed from the libraries where its score lay slumbering. That event took place in Perugia, and the role of Salome was sung by Maria Callas. © Alpha Classics
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Chamber Music - Released March 20, 2020 | Alpha

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The latest album from the Les Basses Réunies ensemble takes us deep into the phantasmagorical world of the Trattado De Glosas (literally "Treatise Of The Glosses") published by Diego Ortiz, a unique testament of the instrumental music of the Spanish Renaissance mixing poetry, profundity, innovation and virtuosity. Published in Rome in 1553 in both Spanish and Italian, this treatise offers a series of variations for several instruments. In the second volume, recorded here in its entirety, we find a succession of Ricercares (a typical 16th century musical form based on a process of imitation) of rare melodic and rhythmic richness, whose roots lie in then-popular dance pieces such as passamezzo antico and passamezzo moderno, the Ruggiero, the folia and the romanesca. The performance of this second book alternates the two main musicians, Bruno Cocset and Guido Balestracci, who are joined by bass viols, organs, harpsichord and vihuela (Spanish baroque guitar). The Basses Réunies’ work of re-reading this repertoire is closely linked to organology, through the rediscovery of instruments which were lost and then recreated for the occasion. These restorations relied on the use of period paintings (in particular the works of Greco) and a collection of engravings representing musicians and rare instruments, which have often unfortunately survived to the present day in a rather pitiful state. The pioneering and visionary work of the instrumentalist, composer and theorist Diego Ortiz contains a foreshadowing of the art of "diminution" (ornamentation of a melody) that would go on to reign supreme over all Italian music of the Renaissance. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released March 20, 2020 | Alpha

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The starting point for Barbara Hannigan’s third recording for Alpha is a work by Gérard Grisey (1946-98) that is particularly close to her heart. Grisey wrote: ‘I conceived the Quatre Chants pour franchir le seuil (Four songs for crossing the threshold) as a musical meditation on death in four parts: the death of the angel, the death of civilisation, the death of the voice and the death of humanity... The texts chosen belong to four civilisations (Christian, Egyptian, Greek, Mesopotamian) and have in common a fragmentary discourse on the inevitability of death’. Luigi Nono (1924-90) was a politically engaged composer. His stunning monody Djamila Boupacha, a heart-rending cry for solo soprano, pays tribute to a freedom fighter tortured by French paratroopers during the Algerian war; Picasso also portrayed her in charcoal. Once again Barbara Hannigan both sings and directs this pair of twentieth-century works with her friends of the Ludwig Orchestra. She has chosen to couple them with a Classical symphony by the master of the genre, Joseph Haydn, which also deals with the theme of the Passion. Her interpretation is extremely intense and highly personal. © Alpha Classics
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Classical - Released March 20, 2020 | Alpha

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The debut of the Taracea ensemble creates a bridge between past and present. The Madrid-based trio’s artistic project is to combine early music, jazz and improvisation. Its founder Rainer Seiferth, a German musician who lives in Spain, plays the vihuela, the Spanish counterpart of the Renaissance lute. Belén Nieto is a flute and recorder specialist and a regular member of Jordi Savall’s ensembles. The double bass player Miguel Rodrigáñez is at home in jazz, flamenco and classical music. If there is a movement for ‘new’ early music, Michel Godard was one of its founders: the French virtuoso of the serpent blends in perfectly with the group. Percussionist David Mayoral combines East and West on zarb, riq and darbuka. The young Spanish singer and percussionist Isabel Martín performs a song by the Spanish Renaissance composer Juan del Encina. This album is called ‘Akoé’ (‘Listening’) in ancient Greek: each of the musicians brings his or her own sound and ideas and becomes an integral part of an inextricably interwoven texture.© Alpha Classics
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Symphonic Music - Released March 13, 2020 | Alpha

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Erkki-Sven Tüür, born in Estonia in 1959, writes music that is characterised by intense energetic transformation. The intuitive and rational approach is synthesised into a complete organic system. He is the composer of nine symphonies, ten concertos, numerous chamber works and an opera. Dedicated to his compatriot Paavo Järvi and composed to mark the centenary of the Estonian Republic in 2018, Tüür’s Ninth Symphony is entitled "Mythos". According to the composer, this refers to the myths that arise about nations and how they have acquired their independence, and also deals with the long history of the Finno-Ugric peoples. Paavo Järvi and his Estonian Festival Orchestra have made the world premiere recording of this work, along with The Incantation of Tempest (2004), dedicated to the Estonian composer Veljo Tormis, and Sow the Wind, composed in 2015, inspired by climatic ‘gusts of wind’ and ‘whirlwinds’. © Alpha Classics
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Violin Concertos - Released March 6, 2020 | Alpha

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After several recordings with Anima Eterna and Jos Van Immerseel, the French violinist Chouchane Siranossian tackles a programme of extremely virtuosic concertos that few Baroque violinists dare to face. Thanks to her technical gifts and to partners ideally suited to this repertory – the Venice Baroque Orchestra and its conductor Andrea Marcon, a specialist in the Italian Baroque style – she takes up the challenge with brio. This album is released to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Tartini’s death in 2020. Of special interest is a completely unknown and unpublished Concerto in G major, the manuscript of which was recently found by the musicologist Margherita Canale. © Alpha Classics
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Opera - Released March 6, 2020 | Alpha

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The multitude of incomplete manuscripts of so many baroque operas and oratorios offers a very tempting playground for today's performers and musicologists. However, it is quite rare for a 21st century artist to compose an entire act from scratch. This was what has happened with El Prometeo by Italian composer Antonio Draghi, who was active at the Habsburg court in Vienna. Composed in 1669, it is one of the few operas from that time written in Castilian, which gives this discovery a vital historical importance. Draghi is a direct heir to Monteverdi and Cavalli, whose works he sang in his youth and whose style he carried forward. As was the style in his day, his music is made up of a deft mixture of comic scenes. This was a tradition that would stretch all the way down to Mozart, via the Jommelli operas that the young composer so admired. Convinced that what he had discovered was the complete manuscript, Leonardo García Alarcón had found himself trapped when he realised his mistake just as the work was due to open at the Dijon Opera. So he was obliged to either cancel the production, or to assemble other works into a "pasticcio" of the style of the 18th century. The conductor wasn't paralysed by the fear of a blank page: he put himself into Draghi's shoes to compose a whole third act: the densest, most dramatic part of the artwork, the original of which was irretrievably lost. Going beyond mere plagiarism, García Alarcón had some fun, paying tribute to Austrian opera, borrowing from Draghi of course, but also from Cesti, Caldara, and all the way up to Mozart. The result of this tour de force is a perfect illusion: his assimilation of different styles allows him to create music that's inspired by and in perfect harmony with the rest of the score. The Namur Chamber Choir, the many soloists and the bewitching colours of the Cappella Mediterranea all contribute greatly to a production whose success you can feel on this new album. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released March 6, 2020 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
The Orchester Wiener Akademie and its conductor Martin Haselböck continue the "Resound Beethoven" series, performed on period instruments and scrupulously respecting the orchestral layouts of 200 years ago. Volume 8, the last volume of the series, is devoted to two emblematic works, both of them dedicated jointly to Prince Franz Joseph Maximilian Lobkowitz and Count Andreas Kirillovich Razumovsky: Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6. Each of these symphonies has a name attached to it. While the Fifth Symphony is sometimes called the ‘Fate’ Symphony for more or less determined reasons, Beethoven himself named ‘Pastoral’ the Sixth, thus pursuing the venerable tradition of the musical pastorale while conferring a new dimension on it. The Orchester Wiener Akademie recorded these two works in the Landhaus Saal of the Niederösterreich Palais, Beethoven’s favourite concert venue. Between 1819 and 1827, all his nine symphonies were performed there at the ‘Concerts spirituels’ founded by Franz Gebauer, and it was in this same palace that the Austrian Revolution of 1848 began. © Alpha Classics
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released February 28, 2020 | Alpha

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Longstanding partners Sandrine Piau and Christophe Rousset have frequently performed the Stabat Mater, an emblematic work of the eighteenth-century Neapolitan repertory, both together and with other musicians. It was therefore a natural step for them to record this supreme masterpiece of sacred music. They are joined here by a relative newcomer to Les Talens Lyriques who has also become a regular partner with the ensemble, the American countertenor Christopher Lowrey. The programme is completed by a Beatus vir by Leonardo Leo (1694-1744), sung by Christopher Lowrey, and a Salve Regina for soprano (Sandrine Piau) by Nicola Porpora (1686-1768), two totally unknown works by two composers who were nevertheless very famous at the time – Porpora, for example, was Farinelli’s singing teacher and mentor to the youthful Haydn. Christophe Rousset finds in this music ‘an expression of very Mediterranean, very highly flavoured piety, in which one moves from tears to laughter quite quickly’. Sandrine Piau sees in Leo ‘an elegance of style, a certain distance in sorrow’. © Alpha Classics

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