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Saint-Saëns: Phryné

Orchestre de l'Opéra de Rouen Normandie

Classical - To be released February 11, 2022 | Bru Zane

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Charles Lecocq: La fille de Madame Angot

Various Artists

Classical - Released October 22, 2021 | Bru Zane

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First performed in Brussels in 1872, La Fille de Madame Angot, a comic opera by Charles Lecocq, enjoyed a triumphant reception for its first performances, and remained in the repertoire of provincial theatres in France for a long time, and also in Germany, where it became very popular. This type of work has encountered two recurrent problems in France, where it was most often entrusted to second-rate singers, who put on routine productions that made use of incomplete, not to say mediocre librettos.The emergence of the Palazzetto Bru Zane foundation, which has been working on French music of the great 19th century (1780-1920) since 2009, has completely reshuffled the deck, by restoring nobility to a repertoire that has been forgotten or is often treated as a poor relation. New versions are recorded by Bru Zane on the basis of his own editorial work which goes back to the sources, performed by the best opera artists of the day, as has always been the way in German-speaking countries.This new recording of La Fille de Madame Angot, made in February 2021 in the largest hall in the Seine Musicale in Paris, brings together the best of today's French singers with, in the leading roles, Anne-Catherine Gillet, Véronique Gens, Mathias Vidal, Artavadz Sargsyan and Matthieu Lécroart. The Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, conducted by Sébastien Rouland, is dazzling. The time had come for a release of this comic opera without any cuts and in the best possible conditions, with a clear and superbly defined sound recording. On top of all this auditory pleasure, we can also enjoy reading the critical notes, which are, as ever, serious and well-put-together. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Camille Saint-Saëns: La princesse jaune

Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse

Classical - Released August 27, 2021 | Bru Zane

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That globetrotting composer Camille Saint-Saëns wrote La Princesse jaune in 1872, exemplifying the current craze for all things Japanese. Kornélis, played by the tenor Mathias Vidal, dreams only of the Land of the Rising Sun. Under the influence of a hallucinogenic potion, he becomes infatuated with Ming, a fantasy princess. His cousin Léna – the soprano Judith van Wanroij – despairs of this passion and does not dare to confess her own feelings to Kornélis, who eventually comes to his senses. The running time of this opera enables us to offer a coupling in the shape of a previously unrecorded version of Saint-Saëns’s six Mélodies persanes, thus extending the guiding thread of a yearning for exotic horizons in another direction. Leo Hussain conducts the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse in both works. © Bru Zane
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André Messager: Passionnément

Münchner Rundfunkorchester

Classical - Released June 11, 2021 | Bru Zane

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Reynaldo Hahn: Ô mon bel inconnu

Orchestre National Avignon-Provence

Classical - Released February 12, 2021 | Bru Zane

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Hahn : L'île du rêve

Hervé Niquet

Classical - Released October 23, 2020 | Bru Zane

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To have written that, you must be a poet, Massenet told Reynaldo Hahn when he read through the score of L’Île du rêve. Composed when the young man was not yet eighteen years old, this ‘curtain-raiser’ already had the qualities of the great works of the period. It reveals the coloristic talents of Bizet, the passionate outbursts of Massenet and even the prosodic originality of the young Debussy. The plot recounts a French naval officer’s love affair with a young Polynesian girl he has to abandon. This subject - also treated musically by Puccini (Madama Butterfly) and Delibes (Lakmé - is approached in an almost Symbolist style: the Romanticism of the music contrasts with a contemplative, introspective treatment of the narration. This is where the youthful Hahn particularly shines: in the very first bars (the hymn to Bora-Bora), in the various love scenes for Loti and Mahenu (notably the duet "Restons encore les paupieres mi-closes") and even in the neo-Handelian prelude to Act Two. © Bru Zane
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Saint-Saëns : Le Timbre d'argent

François-Xavier Roth

Classical - Released August 28, 2020 | Bru Zane

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Le Timbre d'Argent (The Silver Bell), begun in 1864, was Camille Saint-Saëns' very first opera. All but forgotten, it was last staged in 1914, before the 2017 Paris production on which this 2020 release is based. The forces here, including the specialist ensemble Les Siècles, the fine choir Accentus, and conductor François-Xavier Roth make a strong case for the opera's revival. Saint-Saëns obviously valued the work, revising it as late as 1913, due in part to the Franco-Prussian War; it is this last version that is heard presently. The work was termed a drame lyrique or opéra fantastique rather than an opéra comique, but it is an action-packed work that veers between romantic fun and fantasy elements that it shares, along with a pair of librettists, with Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffman of 15 years later. (Goethe's Faust is another inspiration: the titular silver bell brings wealth but kills someone close to the user.) The fantasy elements are prominent in the substantial choral sections, giving the magical choir Accentus much to do. There is a great deal of sheer, sparkling Mozartian melody as well. Roth and a lively cast led by tenor Edgaras Montvidas as the obsessed, Faust-like artist keeps things moving along. Saint-Saëns is a conductor whose star seems to be on the rise, and admirers of his music are sure to want this. The surprise, however, is that anyone can enjoy it. © TiVo
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Lemoyne: Phèdre

Orfeo Orchestra

Classical - Released April 10, 2020 | Bru Zane

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Located in Venice’s Palazzetto Bru Zane, the Centre de Musique Romantique Française (Centre for French Romantic Music) continues in its pursuit of publishing unknown French music with the very same dynamism it’s displayed since its conception. This particular excavation was performed in Budapest by the Purcell Choir and the Orfeo Orchestra, conducted by György Vashegyi. The cathedral-sized concert hall in which it was recorded has exceptional acoustics and gives this discovery a wonderful sense of space and openness. While the protagonists of this opera Phèdre (Phaedra) may be familiar to us – Phaedra, Hippolytus, Theseus and Ono, its composer is much less well-known. The opera may have been shunned by Berlioz sixty years after it was written but Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne nevertheless scored a veritable triumph in 1786 when it was sung at the Opera (Royal Academy of Music) by the best singers of the time. Especially when it’s compared to Gluck’s masterpieces, this opera deserves to come out of hiding due to its undeniable melodic and theatrical qualities. Born in the Dordogne, Lemoyne studied in Berlin before becoming second music master to Frederick the Great, King of Prussia and patron of the arts. Upon his return to France, he had to contend with the rivalry of the Parisian public between the Gluckists and the Piccinnists, whose notorious feud had not yet come to an end. Phèdre was one of the great successes of the old social and political order in France before the French revolution and even survived up until the beginning of the 19th century, before it fell by the wayside and was seemingly forgotten about. Leading one of the few Hungarian ensembles devoted to early music on period instruments, the spirited Francophile György Vashegyi captures the dramatic intensity of this score brilliantly with an outstanding quartet of international soloists who breathe life back into this opera. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Offenbach : Maître Péronilla

Markus Poschner

Classical - Released February 14, 2020 | Bru Zane

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Faded into oblivion and absent from stages since 1879, the vivacious Maître Péronilla was lavishly put on at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in the Spring of 2019 to celebrate 200 years since the birth of Jacques Offenbach. This publication is the result of a collaboration between the Bru-Zane Foundation and Radio France for the recording. This piece of music was written in the last few years of Offenbach’s life, a Spanish language operetta that was part of the wave of Spanish fever that was crashing over France since Bizet and Chabrier and that would last until Debussy and Ravel. With its frenzied rhythm and signature Offenbach dialogue (aided by Nuitter and Ferrier, who hit the mark at every occasion), this work cheerfully borrows from a variety of styles while reprising a few of the composer’s older techniques but with a new sense of refinement that supersedes the previously light atmosphere. The rarity of this work is partly due to the convoluted nature of the libretto. The plotline revolves around an arranged marriage, presenting twenty different characters from three separate generations. The wonderful cast of singers has done a great job of reviving the opera buffa, with Antoinette Dennefeld playing young but tender scholar Frimouskino standing out. Eric Huchet and Véronique Gens are at the pinnacle of the joy and vivacity that seem to have taken hold of the whole cast of protagonists of this production directed by Markus Poschner who also conducts the National Orchestra of France and the Radio France choir. © François Hudry
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La Tombelle: Musique chorale, de chambre, symphonique

Hervé Niquet

Classical - Released November 8, 2019 | Bru Zane

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France owes a great deal to the Palazzetto Bru Zane (a centre devoted to French music of the Romantic period, founded in 2009). It has brought forgotten French music back to life thanks to its research and publications and without it, we wouldn’t have known that many talented composers even existed aside from the likes of Berlioz, Debussy and Ravel. This new monographic volume of the “Portraits” series includes chamber, choral and symphonic music from Fernand de La Tombelle (1854-1928), a Parisian composer and organist who was involved in the founding of the Schola Cantorum de Paris, along with Vincent d’Indy. He is known for his extensive repertoire that covers all genres with the exception of opera. Aside from being a well-educated aristocrat originating from the Thiérache region of France on his father’s side and the Dordogne region on his mother’s side, La Tombelle was also a humanist who was passionate about poetry, folklore, photography and astronomy. The enthusiastic conductor for orchestra and choir, Hervé Niquet, is fully committed to doing justice to such unearthed works. Acting as guest conductor of the fantastic Brussels Philharmonic, he can be credited with the tense and dramatic renditions found in the first part of the album of Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra (Hannes Minnaar on piano), a work which was inspired by Liszt and Saint-Saëns, as well as two Orchestral Suites, Impressions matinales and Livre d’images, in a style that was first developed by Jules Massenet. The second volume is devoted to chamber music and boasts an astonishing Sonata for three Cellos (François Salque, Hermine Horiot and Adrien Bellom) which brings to mind Fauré (Andantino) and Edvard Grieg’s most esteemed masterpiece, Peer Gynt (Lento). The portrait also includes Piano Quartet (I Giardini) and Cello Sonata (Emmanuelle Bertrand and Pascal Amoyel), as well some additional works (Yann Beuron and Jeff Cohen) and choral pieces (Flemish Radio Choir). Further proof of the great abundance and diversity of French works. © François Hudry/QobuzGifted with a strong temperament and a curious nature, Fernand de La Tombelle is a highly appealing and interesting figure among French Romantic composers. He left a substantial œuvre, protean, stylistically eclectic, even atypical, that deserves reassessment not only for its own merits, but also because it illustrates a certain form of social and artistic activity in France at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This new albul in the Palazzetto Bru Zane’s ‘Portraits’ series reveals the multiple facets of a captivating personality, ranging from orchestral music with operatic overtones through introspective chamber works to choral music recalling the Renaissance madrigal. The sublime Fantaisie for piano and orchestra would suffice on its own to demonstrate the quality of La Tombelle’s inspiration. To champion his cause as it deserves, this set calls on no fewer than fourteen soloists, along with orchestra, chorus and conductor. © Palazzetto Bru Zane
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Hahn : Complete songs

Tassis Christoyannis

Classical - Released October 25, 2019 | Bru Zane

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Gounod : Faust

Various Artists

Classical - Released August 23, 2019 | Bru Zane

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Sacchini: Renaud

Les Chantres du Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles

Classical - Released July 30, 2013 | Bru Zane

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From Tasso to Jean Cocteau, Renaud and Armide are one of those legendary couples whose story has enchanted, or horrified, Western thought. In Jerusalem Delivered, Torquato Tasso tells of the adventures of Renaud, King of France in the days of the Crusades with whom the Muslim magician Armide falls in love. The latter tries in vain to hold Renaud back by means of enchantments and by her various charms. This story inspired many painters and musicians: Lully, Gluck, Handel, Vivaldi, Jomelli, Haydn, Rossini, Dvořák and the Florentine Antonio Sacchini. Becoming queen Marie Antoinette's favourite musician, Sacchini wrote several operas for the court, including this Renaud, based on a libretto by Abbé Pellegrin inspired by that of Quinault. It is thanks to Christophe Rousset and the Bru Zane Foundation that today we can savour the resurrection of this forgotten work. Marie Kalinine shines particularly brightly here, as she skilfully portrays the rages and excesses of a particularly dramatic role. She is accompanied by a plethora of small and very well-executed roles that contribute to the excellence of this historical and musical excavation. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Massenet: Le mage

Chœur lyrique Saint-Étienne Loire

Classical - Released July 26, 2019 | Bru Zane

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Massenet: Thérèse

Alain Altinoglu

Classical - Released July 26, 2019 | Bru Zane

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Offenbach : La Périchole (Live)

Marc Minkowski

Classical - Released June 14, 2019 | Bru Zane

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Recordings of Offenbach's 1868 operetta La Périchole, here performed in an 1873 revision, have been rather uncommon. True, it doesn't contain any of the big Offenbach hits, and its Peruvian setting, with a variety of Spanish dances and chinoiserie standing in for whatever music might have been heard in colonial Peru, seems increasingly preposterous as time goes on. However, verisimilitude has never been a requirement in operetta, and this story of the titular street singer (who was an actual historical individual) pursued by a sleazy colonial administrator hits a lot of the bases. Anglophone listeners will note that Arthur Sullivan surely knew this music inside and out, and replicated the combination of limpid songs for the heroine and quite a few sharp narrative choruses. This production, recorded live in 2018 at the Festival Radio France Occitanie in Montpellier, is nothing fancy, but that is its charm. La Périchole is nicely sung by a mezzo-soprano with the delightful name of Aude Extrémo, who resists the temptation to ham it up (sample her drunk scene, "Ah, quel diner je viens de faire") and inhabits the role well. The large cast is consistent, and conductor Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre, far from their Baroque origins, keep things moving in a lively way. One gets the sense that Offenbach would have been fully satisfied, and the recording is a must for any operetta fan. © TiVo
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Spontini: Olimpie

Flemish Radio Choir

Classical - Released March 22, 2019 | Bru Zane

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Olimpie was described by Hector Berlioz as a “sublime work” and Spontini himself viewed it as his best composition. When it was premiered in Paris, however, it gathered no interest. The work is based on a lesser-known play by Voltaire and was considered out of fashion before it even reached the stage in 1819. In Berlin two years later, in a translated and happier version modified by E.T.A. Hoffmann, Olimpie was more of a success. Back in Parisian venues in 1826, the piece was rarely played, which Berlioz regretted. It occasionally made it to Germany, but was eventually forgotten until its rediscovery in the 1950’s as an Italian version performed by La Tebaldi in Florence. Olimpie is not often included in operas’ repertoires, but nevertheless, with its visuals and refined language, it features many magnificent moments and offers a plethora of staging opportunities.The original 1819 musical score has disappeared. Jérémie Rohrer is presenting instead the 1826 version of the score prepared by Federico Agostinelli with various printed sources as well as an autographed manuscript. The album follows this version with the exception of two cuts during Acts I and III. The recording is meticulous and benefits from the splendid acoustic of the Philharmonie de Paris. Recorded before the concert given at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, it features a set of excellent soloists led by Jérémie Rohrer’s imagination and energy. A perfect resurrection and a gift from the indispensable Bru Zane Foundation in Venice. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Les P'tites Michu

Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire

Classical - Released January 11, 2019 | Bru Zane

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Gounod : Le Tribut de Zamora

Hervé Niquet

Full Operas - Released September 14, 2018 | Bru Zane

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Halévy : La Reine de Chypre

Hervé Niquet

Full Operas - Released May 11, 2018 | Bru Zane

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We'll admit: this Reine de Chypre by Fromental Halévy is probably not the unfairly-overlooked work of commanding genius for which the lyrical world has been waiting for fifty years… But it would still be a shame to miss it, especially when performed by such a line-up, with Véronique Gens, Cyrille Dubois and Etienne Dupuis at the top of the bill. And after all, the score is full of vocal marvels and very original ensembles; but it is rather in the orchestration – which is not much more adventurous than that of any other piece of Italian bel canto of the era – that Halévy has taken it easy. The melodic richness was pointed out in an article in the Revue et gazette musicale in April 1842: "In the Reine de Chypre, Halévy's new style is on display with more dash, and more success. I have had occasion to point out the preconditions, as I see them, of the production of a good opera, by pointing out the obstacles which stand in the way of meeting these conditions fully and in good time, whether by the poet or the composer. When these conditions are met, it is an event of great importance for the world of art. Now, in the present case, circumstances have conspired in the performance of a work which, as even the most exacting critic must admit, possesses all the qualities which constitute a good opera. (…) The composer has put all the enchantment of his art into the duet that breathes the sentiments that enrapture them. The dark cloth on which these two charming figures are drawn shows through even in those songs which are so sparkling and alive with happiness, like a sinister cloud, and lends them a particular character of melancholy intrigue. There is no equal, in nobility or in grace, of the magnificent melody of the final part of this duet." The article continues in this vein. The byline? One Richard Wagner… © SM/Qobuz