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Classical - To be released June 4, 2021 | BIS

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Classical - To be released June 4, 2021 | BIS

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Classical - To be released June 4, 2021 | BIS

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Choral Music (Choirs) - To be released June 4, 2021 | BIS

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Classical - To be released June 4, 2021 | BIS

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Classical - To be released May 21, 2021 | BIS

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Classical - To be released May 21, 2021 | BIS

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Opera - Released May 7, 2021 | BIS

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L’Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) is often described as the first opera. The composer himself used another term for his work, however: "favola in musica", a musical tale. Taking this as their point of departure, the performers on the present recording place the emphasis on the libretto’s direct narrative, and how the music alone is used to express emotions, a music which underpins the plot and the text word for word. To quote the liner notes: "To modern ears the musical heritage of L’Orfeo is more to be found in the Lieder tradition than in the grand opera of the nineteenth century". The tale told by Monteverdi and the members of the three ensembles which bring his score to life, is that of Orpheus, the poet and musician who travels to the Underworld in order to persuade Hades to let his beloved Eurydice return to the living. Under the direction of Fredrik Malmberg, and with Johan Linderoth as their Orfeo, the 38 singers and musicians that make up Ensemble Lundabarock, Höör Barock and Ensemble Altapunta perform a score which in 1607 was state-of-the-art contemporary. Four full centuries after the first performance in Mantua it remains almost shockingly modern, as in the sound of cornetts and trombones that summon up the spirits of the Underworld or the portrayal of undiluted, raw grief in Orfeo’s celebrated aria Possente spirto. © BIS Records
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Classical - Released May 7, 2021 | BIS

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After acclaimed recordings of the great Romantic Violin Concertos by Brahms, Bruch and Tchaikovsky, Vadim Gluzman takes on the work that in the beginning of the 19th century mapped out a new course for the genre: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61. With this work, Beethoven rejected the idea of a virtuoso display piece with a largely irrelevant orchestral accompaniment. Instead he presented a symphonic reinterpretation of the concerto principle, with soloist and orchestra becoming equal partners in a texture that is interwoven on many levels. Largely forgotten for several decades after the first performance in 1806, it is now considered one of the greatest violin concertos. However innovative Beethoven was in his Opus 61, he nevertheless remained true to the tradition of allowing the soloist several cadenzas. Over the years, a number of composers and great violin virtuosos have proposed their own cadenzas for the concerto, with Alfred Schnittke being one of the more unexpected names. For this recording, Gluzman has chosen to perform Schnittke’s cadenzas, as a link to the second work of the recording: the composer’s Concerto No. 3, for violin and chamber orchestra. To Schnittke, the relationship between soloist and orchestra is quite different from that demonstrated in Beethoven’s score: "It seems to me that this relationship is never harmonically equitable and balanced… The soloist and orchestra are in fact adversaries". However they may be labelled, James Gaffigan and the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester nevertheless provide unstinting support to Gluzman in both scores. © BIS Records
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Chamber Music - Released May 7, 2021 | BIS

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Up until around 1900 the clarinet repertoire was dominated by music from the German-speaking lands, largely due to the influence of three outstanding clarinettists. Inspired by Anton Stadler, Heinrich Bärmann and Richard Mühlfeld respectively, Mozart, Weber and Brahms composed some of the finest clarinet works ever written. But especially after the defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, the French cultural establishment became increasingly concerned with cultivating a national voice of its own, and Michael Collins’s new release is a reminder of this. The works recorded here all date from the last years of the 19th century and afterwards, and it is striking that four of them (Debussy, Widor, Messager and Rabaud) were written as competition pieces for the Paris Conservatoire – the institution which played such a decisive role in shaping French musical life. But even though they were commissioned for educational purposes there is nothing academic about them: from Debussy’s seductive Rhapsodie to Messager’s light-heartedly brilliant Solo de concours there is instead a definite French – maybe even Parisian – quality to them. This also applies to the Clarinet Sonata by Saint-Saëns, composed in the last year of his life but full of charm and courtly irony. Closing the recording are two works from either end of Francis Poulenc’s life. While the brief Sonata for Two Clarinets from 1918 is pure and cheeky fun, the 1962 Sonata for Clarinet and Piano is more conflicted emotionally, as indicated by the first movement’s tempo marking Allegro tristamente. Throughout the greater part of the programme, Collins is partnered by Noriko Ogawa, whose pianism has won her particular acclaim in French repertoire, with Sérgio Pires making a guest appearance in Poulenc’s clarinet duo. © BIS Records
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Chamber Music - Released May 7, 2021 | BIS

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What we know as "Handel’s Opus 3" is most likely little more than a brazen attempt by the London publisher John Walsh to make some quick money. In 1715, Walsh had issued a pirated edition of Corelli’s 12 Concerti grossi, Op. 6 which proved an instant success and left him constantly looking for similar opportunities. Almost 20 years later, perhaps in the knowledge that the royal protection granted to Handel’s musical output was about to expire, Walsh assembled a set of six orchestral pieces for a wide range of instruments. He prefaced them with a wholly misleading title-page – based on Corelli’s style-defining collection – and advertised them as Handel’s "Opera Terza". It is likely that Handel never took part in the selection and organization of the individual movements, although he may have been involved in the revisions made when a reprint was necessary a few years later. Selected from various sources, the six concertos certainly don’t form an organic cycle – in complete contrast to the future Op. 6 concerti grossi, which Handel carefully conceived as a set. The fact remains that Opus 3 contains some of Handel’s best-loved music, in instrumental combinations that are colorful and often unexpected – aspects that Martin Gester and his musicians in the Tasmanian period band Van Diemen’s Band make the most of. © BIS Records
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Jazz - Released May 7, 2021 | BIS

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The award-winning Dutch composer and bass clarinet player Joris Roelofs is also currently working on a PhD dissertation on Friedrich Nietzsche, improvisation and the notion of freedom. On the album "Rope Dance" he is able to combine all of this, in a suite of twelve pieces inspired by Nietzsche – "by far the most musical of philosophers" according to Roelofs. It is especially the parable of the tightrope walker in the opening section of Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None that has provided him with inspiration for his own Light-Footed Music for All and None. It is not surprising that Nietzsche’s thoughts about free spirits, liberated from conventional constraints and belief systems, resonate particularly well with musicians working with improvisation and across genres. Roelofs has therefore been able to gather a group of highly versatile colleagues from the Benelux jazz scene to perform his music: pianist Bram de Looze, bass player Clemens van der Feen and Martijn Vink on drums. The album also confirms the multi-faceted talents of bassoonist Bram van Sambeek, following previous recordings on BIS of classical, pre-Romantic and contemporary concertos, as well as hard rock covers with the group ORBI ("The Oscillating Revenge of the Background Instruments"). © BIS Records
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Children - Released April 23, 2021 | BIS

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Classical - Released April 9, 2021 | BIS

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In June of 1922, a cultural fiesta took place on the grounds of Granada’s Alhambra palace, organized by Manuel de Falla and Federico García Lorca. The aim of the event was to preserve the "purity" of flamenco art and the opening performance was given by 29-year-old guitarist Andrés Segovia. Ironically, Segovia played de Falla’s Hommage to Claude Debussy (featured on this album - a work which can hardly be described as pure flamenco. But this can be seen as symptomatic of an important trait in the music of 20th-century Spain: Certain composers defended what they believed to be a noble, gallant and Castilian ideal, while others embarked on an quest to restore the "lost purity" of the peasantry, but embracing Modernism and Impressionism as stylistic tools in order to do so. This is demonstrated on Franz Halász’s new album, which provides a context – Milán’s Pavanes from the 16th century, Fernando Sor’s "Malbroug" Variations from 1827 – while juxtaposing later works that embody the described, conflicting attitudes. This makes for a colourful and varied programme, taking in highlights in the guitar literature such as Tárrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra as well as Joaquín Turina’s Guitar Sonata, here recorded – for the first time – from a copy of Turina’s original manuscript, and not Segovia’s published version with numerous changes. The winner of a Latin Grammy, Franz Halász is a highly acclaimed guitarist who here also makes his own contribution to the repertoire of his instrument, with his own arrangements of de Falla and Albéniz. © BIS Records
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Lieder (German) - Released April 9, 2021 | BIS

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For the first four years of their marriage, Robert and Clara Schumann kept a joint diary, a project which Robert described as "a record of our wishes and our hopes, and the means whereby we may convey to one another any requests we may have to make, for which words may not suffice...". In the imaginative recital "Album für die Frau", Carolyn Sampson and Joseph Middleton combine songs by both composers into something similar – the depiction of a relationship seen through the eyes of both parties. Using the eight songs from Robert’s song cycle Frauenliebe und –leben to poems by Adalbert von Chamisso as the framework, they add songs as well as some piano solos in order to create a fuller and more complex picture. The result seems to suggest that the experiences of our "Frau" are richer than Chamisso and Robert Schumann imagined: while love, marriage and motherhood dominated much of Clara Schumann’s life, Robert’s death in 1856 signaled the start of a four-decade widowhood during which she resumed her stellar career as a pianist. As a team, Carolyn Sampson and Joseph Middleton have released a number of acclaimed discs, including "Fleurs", featuring flower-themed songs by composers from Purcell to Richard Strauss and Britten, "A Verlaine Songbook", exploring settings of the poetry of Paul Verlaine, and "A Soprano’s Schubertiade", a Schubert anthology. © BIS Records
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Chamber Music - Released April 9, 2021 | BIS

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2020 saw the release of the first instalment in this three-album traversal of Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas – a recording that has garnered many distinctions. As Frank Peter Zimmermann and Martin Helmchen open the second step, they do so with the iconic "Spring" Sonata, Op. 24. Completed in 1801, the work proved immediately popular with a second edition appearing only months after the first publication. There were also numerous arrangements for a variety of forces – including a song based on motifs from the sonata’s slow movement. Soon after completing Op. 24, Beethoven began work on a set of three sonatas of which the first two are included here. Musically the Op. 30 sonatas continue the development that had begun with the "Spring" Sonata towards a contrast-rich, symphonic style. Beethoven originally planned to end the first and shortest of the three with the expansive movement that later became the finale of the great "'Kreutzer" Sonata. As this would clearly have ruined the proportions of the work, he eventually replaced it with a set of variations. Closing this recording is the Second Sonata of Op. 30, in C minor. It is the most important of the set; a genuine Grande Sonate in four movements, and an early example of Beethoven’s "heroic" style. © BIS Records
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Classical - Released April 9, 2021 | BIS

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This programme of orchestral showpieces features four of the five members of the "Mighty Handful", a group of Russian composers who during the second half of the 19th century collaborated to create a distinct national style. The recorded works illustrate different aspects of their endeavours – both in terms of the musical means they employ and their subject matter. Orientalism is one of the typical features of the music of the group, as witness Balakirev’s Islamey – employing material from the Caucasus Mountains – and Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances, describing the revels of a nomadic eastern tribe during a 12th-century raid into the Russian lands. The most individual of the group was Modest Mussorgsky, with a musical language both powerful and startlingly vivid in imagination. His celebrated Pictures from an Exhibition was composed in 1874 as a tribute to a recently deceased artist friend, and takes in such specifically Russian elements as the fairy-tale witch Baba Yaga and the Great Gate of Kiev. Originally written for the piano it is here performed in the 1922 orchestration by Maurice Ravel. Also by Mussorgsky, the opening Night on the Bare Mountain paints a witch’s Sabbath in bold brushstrokes, and was re-orchestrated by Rimsky-Korsakov after the composer’s death. It is his version, with more sumptuous orchestral textures and a tighter formal plan that is heard here. © BIS Records
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Classical - Released April 9, 2021 | BIS

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Born in 1968, the Swiss composer Richard Dubugnon writes music that has been described as "driven by a playful modern sensibility" (The New York Times). His work list includes all genres, from solo pieces to large orchestral works, such as the Helvetia Symphony, scored for the same forces as Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. He has also written for smaller orchestra, however, and this recording is bookended by his two chamber symphonies. Chamber Symphony No. 1 was composed in 2013, and in his liner notes the composer admits to influences from Arnold Schönberg and Franz Schreker, as well as Olivier Messiaen: "if passionate gestures evoke the decadent Vienna of the turn of the 20th century, the overall harmonic colour remains quite “French”… Switzerland is, after all, half way between Vienna and Paris"’. In contrast, the initial inspiration for Chamber Symphony No. 2 (2017) was a visual one – a stained-glass panel from 1658 commemorating the first members of Musikkollegium Winterthur, for which the work was written. Dubugnon creates a chaconne based on the colours of the stained glass, but also includes a Bach fragment in allusion to a reference on the panel to Psalm 150. These elements are used in various ways throughout the piece, which ends in a big accelerando. Framed by the symphonies is the concerto Klaveriana, for piano, orchestra and obbligato celesta. Featuring a wide range of piano techniques, the concerto is unusual in that it incorporates an important part for the celesta which functions as a mysterious reflection of the piano. The recording is a first on BIS from Musikkollegium Winterthur under its conductor Thomas Zehetmair, with Noriko Ogawa as the soloist in Klaveriana. © BIS Records
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Classical - Released April 9, 2021 | BIS

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Along with Vivaldi’s Seasons or Beethoven’s Fifth, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos belong to those works that are so well-known that we risk taking them for granted. In order to (re-)discover the special qualities that can inspire us today, in 2001 Thomas Dausgaard and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra decided to contact six contemporary composers, asking each of them to compose a companion piece to one of the concertos. Seventeen years later, in 2018, it was time to present the result, with a performance at the BBC Proms of all the works – new and old. Recorded over a period of 18 months leading up to this event, the present boxed set provides a unique opportunity to experience six very different musical minds and idioms entering into conversation with Bach: Mark-Anthony Turnage, Steven Mackey, Anders Hillborg, Olga Neuwirth, Uri Caine and Brett Dean. Bach’s Concertos are remarkable in that they are all scored for different instrumental combinations, and part of the brief to the group of composers was to reflect this. In her Aello, Olga Neuwirth has for instance used several "instruments" to stand in for Bach’s harpsichord, including a synthesizer, a milk frother and a typewriter. Brett Dean, on the other hand, has stayed very close to Bach’s instrumentation, but has chosen to write his work as a preparation for Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 – an Approach to Bach’s extremely tight canonic writing. In performing the twelve works the orchestra and Dausgaard are joined by leading soloists including Clare Chase, Mahan Esfahani, Håkan Hardenberger, Pekka Kuusisto and Tabea Zimmermann. © BIS Records
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Classical - Released March 19, 2021 | BIS

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Carl Maria von Weber wrote music that has been admired by composers as diverse as Schumann, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky. But in his lifetime he was also recognised as one of the finest pianists of the period, with an exceptional technique and a brilliant gift for improvisation. Especially during the 1810s he toured extensively, and like other composer-pianists he wrote works to use as his personal calling cards, among them the two piano concertos recorded here. They were both composed in 1811-12, but while the First Concerto takes Mozart’s concertos as its model, Piano Concerto No. 2 looks towards Beethoven. This change of direction was probably influenced by the fact that Weber had acquired a score of Beethoven’s recently published "Emperor" Concerto. In any case there are some striking similarities between his concerto and Beethoven’s: the use of identical keys, and the inclusion of a slow, subtly orchestrated Adagio and a closing playful rondo in 6/8. Weber is unmistakeably Weber, however: a highly original orchestrator whose music is at turns brilliant, melancholy and charming. These qualities are to the fore also in the Konzertstück from 1821, in which the composer liberates himself from Classical models and finds a new path. Much admired by Liszt, the work is a kind of symphonic poem in four sections, played without a break. © BIS Records

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