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A Night in London

Ophélie Gaillard

Classical - To be released March 4, 2022 | Aparté

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Le Manuscrit de Madame Théobon

Christophe Rousset

Classical - Released September 17, 2021 | Aparté

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Bach, Berg, Schoenberg, Webern

Hortense Cartier-Bresson

Classical - To be released February 11, 2022 | Aparté

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Poulenc, Bernstein, Weinberg, Prokofiev: Boundless

Pablo Barragán

Classical - Released January 14, 2022 | Aparté

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Scarlatti to Scarlatti

Giulio Biddau

Classical - Released January 28, 2022 | Aparté

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Editions of Domenico Scarlatti’s almost 600 keyboard sonatas were for a long time based on uncertain sources. The resulting editorial confusion gave rise to different readings at different times and in different places. A prime example is Hans von Bülow’s selection of eighteen of the sonatas (published in 1864), viewed through the prism of Romanticism. On this double album the pianist Giulio Biddau compares that version with a recent critical edition. Each sonata is played twice, thus alternating the perspectives and shedding light on two different approaches to Scarlatti’s work. © Aparté
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Shostakovich: String Quartets No. 3 & No. 8

Novus Quartet

Quartets - Released January 21, 2022 | Aparté

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Flawless technique, impeccable balance, and a luminously clear-toned and supremely elegant, slender sound. These are the qualities we’ve come to anticipate from the recordings of former Salzburg Mozart Competition winners the Novus Quartet, who formed in 2007 at the Korean National University of the Arts. And there’s much to play to those strengths in the two Shostakovich String Quartets they’ve chosen for their first recording since 2019. No. 3 in F major’s opening Allegretto is a case in point. Evoking the spirit of the Limoges market in Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, it bounds into sound with a fabulous, crisply insouciant bounce, textures freshly lucid, and retaining sunniness even where it would be easy to let Shostakovichian sarcastic bite to nudge its way in. As for that aforementioned blending, just listen to the tonal matching between the two violins midway through the final Moderato. Also the sheer sweetness and slender finesse of the first violin’s reprisal of the theme. Still, gut-wrenching pain and biting irony are also a part of the Shostakovich package, and these readings offer more of a mixed bag of satisfaction on that front. Sticking with No. 3 (which was written in 1945 as a portrayal of both the joys and the sorrows of the Russian people), its hushed, despairing final fade is articulated here as a whisper of heartrending fragility. Earlier though, while its Allegro moderato is impressively neatly prickly, it’s missing a bit of the rawness that some listeners will be wanting from a movement depicting the harshness of daily life in one of Russia’s darkest periods in history. On to self-quotation-filled Quartet No. 8 in C minor – famously written in over three days in 1960 as Shostakovich visited the bombed remains of Dresden, and dedicated to “the victims of fascism and the war” – and while the keening anger of its Allegro molto offsets any vaguely perceived lack of violence, the Allegretto and Largo feel slightly unsatisfyingly perfect and classically beautiful to truly hit their mark. That said, it’s impossible not to find oneself lapping up the sheer finesse and beauty the Novus has brought to this music.
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Chopin: 19 Valses

François Chaplin

Classical - Released January 7, 2022 | Aparté

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Very popular during Chopin’s lifetime, the waltzes have long been a favorite with professionals and amateurs alike. Highly virtuosic – most of them were clearly not intended to be danced – and sometimes melancholy, they nevertheless retain the distinctive lightness and grace that we associate with the genre. These pieces have accompanied François Chaplin since his early days as a pianist. After so many years spent playing them, looking beyond their apparent simplicity and fathoming the depths of their poetry, this lifelong admirer of Chopin brings together here, on this magnificent recording – ten years after his complete Nocturnes – the composer’s 19 Waltzes. This complete and continuous reading enables us to perceive them as a whole, stunningly beautiful and full of verve. © Aparté
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Brahms: Sonatas for Piano and Violin

Maxim Emelyanychev

Classical - Released December 3, 2021 | Aparté

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Played with perfect complicity, on period instruments, by Aylen Pritchin (violin, First Prize of the 2014 Long-Thibaud Competition) and Maxim Emelyanychev (fortepiano), two outstanding representatives of the younger generation of Russian musicians, these pieces by Brahms are presented in all their authenticity, faithful to the composer’s original intentions. © Aparté
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Marin Marais: Pièces de viole, Livre I

Atsushi Sakaï

Classical - Released November 26, 2021 | Aparté

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Marin Marais is one of the most important figures of the French baroque. At once a virtuoso on the viola da gamba, a composer and a teacher, Marais left behind a varied body of work that displays strikingly abundant inspiration. Five Books of viol music punctuated his life. Published between 1686 and 1723, these collections for solo and accompanied viol not only offer a remarkable synthesis of the practices of the time; they also bear witness to the development of the instrument. Marais’ frequently intimate music, a far cry from Courtly splendors, calls up an imaginary world of light and shadow. Atsushi Sakai has launched a series of recordings of this unique collection of pieces. This album, the first, is devoted to Book I, a transitional work that confirms the ornamented refinement of the “style françois”. Viola da gambist Marion Martineau and harpsichordist Christophe Rousset join Atsushi Sakai on this adventure, recreating the trio that stood out so brilliantly in their Forqueray and Couperin albums. © Aparté
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Schubert: The Last Quartets

Aviv Quartet

Quartets - Released November 19, 2021 | Aparté

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Schubert’s last two quartets, composed during the final years of his life, reveal the impressive mastery he achieved, despite the knowledge that he was dying. The four movements of the "Death and the Maiden” Quartet, all in minor keys, and the tumultuous, quasi-orchestral fifteenth Quartet, an important stage on “the way to the grand symphony”, bear witness to the composer’s struggle against illness and death. The Quatuor Aviv brilliantly illuminates the elegiac and tragic melodies in which Schubert wrapped his torments. © Aparté
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Mayr: L'amor conjugale

Opera Fuoco

Opera - Released November 19, 2021 | Aparté

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The story of Léonore ou l’amour conjugal, conveniently transported to Spain by Nicolas Bouilly, is based on a true story that took place during the French Revolution. The heroism of a young woman disguised as a man going to save her husband, who is being held arbitrarily in the depths of a dungeon, has fired the imagination of several authors. It must be said that the situation is timeless and touches us today as much as it would have in the past.Created in 1798 in Paris at the time when the French armies were invading Rome, this "historical story in two acts, in prose mixed with songs" to the music of Pierre Gaveaux, was soon crossing the borders. The Italian composer Ferdinando Paër set it to music in 1804. We know the famous anecdote of Beethoven, who had the score to it, casually saying to the composer: "I liked your opera very much and will set it to music". Beethoven's Leonore was performed in Vienna the following year without success, before becoming Fidelio nearly ten years later. Coincidentally, the Bavarian composer Simon Mayr also took up the subject in the same year, 1805, when his Italian opera L’amor conjugale was performed in Padua.Although the story is the same, the setting is shifted—to Poland. Leonore/Fidelio become Zeliska/Malvino, Florestan is Amorveno, the other protagonists are Floreska, Peters, Moroski and Ardelao. The work has been successfully produced all over the European continent. We have to say that he skilfully blends the musical traditions of Northern and Southern Europe in a perfect union of styles between Germanic harmonic science and Italian bel canto.For this recording, David Stern and the singers and musicians of his Opera Fuoco ensemble return to their roots, particularly in the recitatives where cello and double bass are combined with the harpsichord. The whole is very lively, highlighting both the voices and the delicacy of the instrumentation. Let us welcome this new recording of an opera which represents an important link in the evolution of bel canto, which lead to further development by Rossini and his glorious successors, Donizetti and Bellini. It is undoubtedly the modernity of the subject that influenced the album's graphic designers, presented against the background of a Mondrian composition. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Telemann, Platti, Vivaldi & Geminiani: Concerti all'arrabbiata

Freiburger Barockorchester

Classical - Released November 12, 2021 | Aparté

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Italy. Home to the spicy arrabiata pasta sauce made with tomatoes and dried chillis, and also home to fierily explosive baroque music. I’m not entirely convinced we needed that link in order to best appreciate or understand these five works presented by the Freiburger Barockorchester, but there’s no question that this programme fulfils its aim to showcase the blazing, virtuosic concerto style of eighteenth century Italy, while highlighting the influence it had on German composers, represented here by Telemann. So on the Italian side, that means Platti’s Concerto in G Minor for Oboe, Strings and Continuo I 47, Vivaldi’s Concerto in E-flat Major for Bassoon, Strings and Continuo RV 483 and Francesco Geminiani’s Concerto Grosso in D Minor for Two Violins, Cello, Strings and Continuo, “La Follia”, after Corelli's famous Sonata No. 12, Op. 5; and beyond fieriness, the additional draw of these three works is both how distinct they are from each other, and how representative of their respective composers voices. Then as for Telemann’s Italian-inspired works (and it works particularly well to have them sitting as the programme’s outer pillars), there’s the Sinfonia in D Major for Two Horns, Strings and Continuo, TWV 52:D2 and his “Grillen-Symphonie” Sinfonia in G Major for piccolo, chalumeau, double-Bass, strings and continuo. You can always count on the FBO for sprightly tempi and classily neat precision, and that holds true here. In general, these are readings at the smoothly elegant end of period performance spectrum, which is exactly the quality you want for Platti’s light grace in particular. They do also let rip at points too, though, in their own elegant way. I’m thinking especially of their horns through the first of the Telemann sinfonias, who serve up merry virtuosity for the third movement Allegro, and bring real swagger and flourish to their final Allegro assai. There’s equally some fabulous bassoon work in the Vivaldi, while the Grillen-Symphonie or “Cricket Symphony” – incidentally one that Telemann himself jokingly described on the manuscript as being “in the Italian, English, Scottish and Polish styles” – makes for a properly zesty closing romp. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Bach - Brouwer: Canciones

Andreas Scholl

Duets - Released November 5, 2021 | Aparté

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The curiosity of the countertenor Andreas Scholl is well-known, with his taste for rare and precious musical items. We find him here with the lute player Edin Karamazov as the embodiment of an encounter between Havana and Leipzig, between contemporary Cuba and baroque Germany. Navigating from the one to the other, the two musicians weave the fabric of a musical reverie in which Johann Sebastian Bach walks alongside the Cuban master Leo Brouwer, whose crossover works draw at once from folklore, creole roots, dance and the scholarly European tradition. These works echo in marvellous manner the chorales, the Cello Suite or English Folk Songs, arranged here by Brouwer himself, and dedicated to the duet. © Aparté
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Not all cats are grey

Quatuor Hanson

Quartets - Released October 29, 2021 | Aparté

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When it comes to French string quartets, Autumn 2021 has been notably nocturnal-flavoured. First there was the superb “round midnight” from the genre’s rockstars, Quatuor Ébène – a programme of music for after dark that paired Dutilleux’s Ainsi la nuit of 1976 with a quartet arrangement of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht (1899), bridged by a new jazz-infused work by the quartet’s cellist-composer Raphaël Merlin. Now here’s “Not all cats are grey” from one of France’s most exciting new generation quartets, Quatuor Hanson, whose own night-themed trio of works has the Dutilleux sitting at its climax, preceded by Bartók’s String Quartet in A minor of 1917 – metaphorically representing a dark time for Europe, and studied by Dutilleux before he wrote his own quartet – and Ligeti’s String Quartet No 1 “Métamorphoses nocturnes” of 1954. Beyond having one of the smile-eliciting album titles of the year, “Not all cats are grey” also thoroughly delivers on its actual contents. If you’re wondering what the title actually refers to, it’s the fact that at night time all cats suddenly look grey on account on it being more difficult to distinguish separate colours, and that in the same way it can be all too easy to hear so-called contemporary music as all sounding the same. The Hanson’s mission is therefore to bring out the myriad of contrasts between these three major works via a multi-hued night time musical landscape representing everything from sleep, dreams and hallucination, to liveliness and intense movement; and they’ve very much achieved that aim. First thing to say is that there’s a very satisfying balance to the programme’s overall architecture, thanks to their having placed the Dutilleux and Ligeti – each a series of micro-movements heard as a single movement which organically develops an initial motivic idea – as their two-book-ends; and you’re hearing an equal degree of architecture across the interpretations themselves, on both the macro and micro level. Tone and articulation-wise, there’s just the right, brightly crystal-edged, lucid-textured sound that served them so well in their Diapason Award-winning Haydn recording of 2019. Favourite snapshots? How about the exhilarating bite, folky kick, momentum and technical precision of the Ligeti’s Vivace, capriccio; then the similar qualities they bring to the even more obviously folky strains of the following Bartók’s central Allegro molto capriccioso; the slender-toned delicacy with which they open the Bartók’s Lento, and the dramatic tautness with which its long lines then proceed; the gorgeous gossamer wisps heard in the Dutilleux’s Nocturne 2, and the nimbleness, colouristic range and sense of organic progression they bring to that entire work’s exploration of different sound effects. Essentially, I won’t be surprised if this album ends up picking up an award or two, too. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Stölzel: Bist du bei mir

Andreas Scholl

Classical - Released October 29, 2021 | Aparté

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Mozart Concertante

Aleksandra Kurzak

Opera - Released October 22, 2021 | Aparté

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The Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak needs no introduction. After having dazzled the opera stage and the discographic world both in duets and solo, she has devoted the whole of her new recording to Mozart. From The Magic Flute to Zaide, Mitridate and La Clemenza di Tito, the soprano embraces with equal talent the most famous arias of the master of Salzburg… and the verve of her concert presence. Far from limiting herself to just the lyrical attractiveness, she reveals its depth and brilliance by exploring the richness of the dialogue between voice and instruments: the brilliant musicians of the Morphing Chamber Orchestra of Vienna and Aleksandra Kurzak answer to each other, imitate and seek out each other. With them the arias of Mozart become the setting for a theatrical performance that is intimate, droll, and incredibly lively, in which the instruments have their own role to play in the unfolding drama. As an echo to this is added the Sinfonia concertante, for violin, viola and orchestra, one of the composer’s masterpieces in the genre, featuring the international soloists Yuuki Wong and Tomasz Wabnic. © Aparté
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Bartók: String Quartet No. 2, Sz. 67: II. Allegro molto capriccioso

Quatuor Hanson

Quartets - Released October 15, 2021 | Aparté

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Down by the Salley Gardens

Andreas Scholl

Classical - Released October 15, 2021 | Aparté

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