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Classical - To be released August 20, 2021 | Challenge Classics

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Classical - Released July 16, 2021 | Challenge Classics

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Classical - Released July 9, 2021 | Challenge Classics

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The year 1802 proved to be a year of true challenge for Beethoven, as he finally realised that his decline into deafness was irreversible. However, in this year Beethoven composed some of his most radiant and life-affirming works in that period. Possibly as part of the determination to push the boundaries of his art in pursuit of solace and fulfilment, Beethoven demonstrates a remarkable stylistic shift between the Op. 12 and the Op. 30 Sonatas (written in 1801–2, published in 1803). While the former set was dedicated to Salieri in a nod of appreciation towards his education, the latter was dedicated to Tsar Aleksandr I of Russia, celebrated upon his visits to Vienna in the first part of the 19th Century for his wide-reaching reformist attitude. © Challenge Records
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released June 11, 2021 | Challenge Classics

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Classical - Released June 4, 2021 | Challenge Classics

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For Camiel Boomsma, discovering the music by Dutch composer Gerhard (and his son Karel) Hamm was really a game of fate. After a recital, Carl Hamm, who is a direct descendant, gave him a stack of scores. While playing through the pieces at home Boomsma was struck by their delicacy and narrative power. Gerhard Hamm belongs in a way to the musical family of Robert Schumann. He writes little poetic reflections on grand Romantic gestures. In these small musical poems a whole world lies hidden. Sometimes powerful and proud, sometimes vulnerable and reflective. Romantic expression beautiful in itself. In his Gefunden: 6 Clavierstücke in Liedform, Op. 18, Gerhard Hamm's musical gift as a composer is beautifully displayed. Hamm’s craftsmanship is excellent but he never neglects poetic expression. © Challenge Classics
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Classical - Released May 7, 2021 | Challenge Classics

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Classical - Released March 19, 2021 | Challenge Classics

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It was not until the violonist Bob van der Ent picked up his violin and played a few movements of solo Bach, one winter's evening at home, that the essence of the composer finally permeated his being. He felt an almost mystical unity with the music that he had never experienced before. Because there are already so many fabulous recordings of Bach, he asked himself "What can I still add to this?". What surprised him, however, was that the wide diversity of approach was actually a great source of inspiration to him rather than being in any way off-putting. Apparently, the possibilities of Bach's music are inexhaustible. This is what gave him the courage he needed to issue a new recording. The narrative power of Bach's music means that it can sound like new in every era and in every performance. People's opinions of Bach are constantly changing and will continue to do so in the future. This recording of Bach is an interpretation of Bob van der Ent's vision of this music up until now, and he had striven for authenticity by remaining true to his personal vision, without making it a predominant feature. For years now, Bob van der Ent had been playing a violin that is very dear to him; an instrument by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume from 1828. It is modelled after Stradivarius and its tonal design is typical of 18th century instruments, with a wide palette of colours. Using gut strings on this instrument, especially for Bach, adds a great deal of clarity to the sound, a richer range of overtones and a warmer sound that more closely approximates the human voice. Finally, a Baroque bow offers many more options for the expression Bob van der Ent is seeking. It's a bow that feels like a fine paintbrush, helping him to paint the music, as it were, in great detail. © Challenge Classics
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Classical - Released March 12, 2021 | Challenge Classics

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Death – as a source of reflection, blinding insight or terror – has become an idée fixe in the works of Willem Jeths (born in Amersfoort in 1959). Gradually, death as a topos took on the form of a philosophical question, which perhaps only found its proper place in the Requiem, with the First Symphony acting as a staging post. There is a link here to a process of increasing awareness, for which Jeths sought the sounds in his Second Violin Concerto. He said: “Death is not the final end but rather a transition to a different phase". This idea is elaborated in the Requiem in the form of a musical journey to the hereafter, taking comfort from beauty and solemn mourning. Jeths concedes that he had no need for experiments in form, which in this case would have jarred with the intended servitude to his theme. There was no need for a full quartet of soloists; two were sufficient. The orchestral scoring, with double wind and brass, is relatively modest, although Jeths' predilection for exotic colours is evidenced by his use of soprano recorder, harp, organ and an extensive array of percussion instruments including glockenspiel, vibraphone and xylophone. This time, however, they serve a higher purpose, namely the melody. "This is my most melodious work", says the composer. The Requiem must come from the heart and the heart sings. © Challenge Records
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Classical - Released March 12, 2021 | Challenge Classics

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Giuseppe Maria Boschi was undoubtably one of the most famous and virtuosic baritones of the 18th century. He had a brilliant and intense career on a par with those of renowned contemporary castrati and sopranos, including Farinelli, Senesino, Faustina Bordoni, Margherita Durastanti, Francesca Cuzzoni and Nicolini. He was one of the leading baritones throughout London from 1720 to 1728, sought after by Georg Frederich Händel, Giovanni Bononcini, and Attilio Ariosti. Warrior, father, lover, tyrant: many were the roles to show the nuances of his vocality which, judging by the music written for him, was of exceptional range and well-suited for dramatic roles. The program of this recording made in honor of Giuseppe Maria Boschi is largely unpublished and constitutes a very small selection of some of the most beautiful pages of music written for him between 1708 and 1728. © Challenge Records
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Tango - Released March 5, 2021 | Challenge Classics

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Classical - Released February 26, 2021 | Challenge Classics

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Classical - Released February 19, 2021 | Challenge Classics

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Classical - Released February 12, 2021 | Challenge Classics

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The profile of Norwegian soprano Mari Eriksmoen continues to rise through her regular appearance on Europe’s major opera, concert and recital stages, and she is consistently praised for her compelling blend of radiant stage personality and purity of vocal tone. This is her first opera arias recital and is focused on Handel and Mozart. Previously on disc, Eriksmoen features on Schumann’s Szenen aus Goethes Faust with Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks under Daniel Harding, Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, both with Akademie für alte Musik Berlin under René Jacobs and Glyndebourne Festival conducted by Robin Ticciati, and in a ​“poised, elegant and persuasive” (Guardian) debut recital featuring songs by Grieg, Grøndahl, Wolf and Strauss with Alphonse Cemin (Alpha). © Challenge
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Classical - Released January 22, 2021 | Challenge Classics

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Scholtes and Janssens were just 18 and 19 years old when they first ventured to play Mozart's Sonata for two pianos. They had only been playing together for a year at the time. Schubert's Fantasy in F followed shortly afterwards. Now, 17 years on, they are finally brave enough to record these two iconic works. Over recent years, these two works have taken on the role of critical teachers, sources of inspiration and motivation for them to keep on developing, as a duo certainly, but also and mainly as individual musicians. Scholtes and Janssens have been challenged by legendary recordings made by the likes of Radu Lupu & Murray Perahia, Josef & Rosina Lhevinne, and father and son Neuhaus to discover our own sound, both in this music and elsewhere. From the beginning seventeen years ago, Scholtes and Janssens have been forced to face up to the fact that a good duo doesn't just happen when you put two good pianists together, and certainly not in Mozart or Schubert. Every note that's slightly misplaced, every chord that's not properly balanced can tarnish the performance. And every phrase when you don't breathe together. They gradually became more and more convinced that piano duo players have to be soloists, chamber musicians and an orchestra at the same time. As a duo, the aim is to have the freedom and virtuosity of a soloist, the ear and connectivity of a chamber musician and the tonal palette and nuanced subtlety of a symphony orchestra. © Challenge Classics
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Classical - Released January 8, 2021 | Challenge Classics

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Willem De Fesch was born in Alkmaar in 1687. He deserves an honorable place alongside such greats as Vivaldi and Handel, as his works sound at least as colorful, playful, inventive and sparkling as those of his contemporaries. Sometime after 1700 his parents returned with him to Amsterdam. By then, the city had become an epicentre of music publishers. Many Italian composers published their work in the city; Vivaldi made public appearances and in 1729, Pietro Locatelli even opted to move there. In 1708, De Fesch was appointed violinist in the orchestra of the Amsterdam City Theatre. He composed a lot of music for stage performances himself, such as the concerts in C and A minor of this recording. As far as we know, orchestral works only started to appear again in 1741: the audibly matured Opus 10, also on this recording. © Challenge Records
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Classical - Released November 6, 2020 | Challenge Classics

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Exploring the Beethoven's Violin Sonatas in 2020 took on a deeper significance beyond the anniversary celebrations. Recording all ten in Mechelen, Belgium, the home of Beethoven’s paternal ancestors, with much of the world’s population in isolation, these works revealed new layers of emotional intensity and psychological relevance. The Op. 12 Sonatas belong to the last decade of the eighteenth century, a period when Beethoven was conquering Vienna as the foremost keyboard virtuoso of the day but simultaneously seeking to have his compositions published for the first time. In essence, classical duo sonatas for piano and strings had grown from the eighteenth-century ‘accompanied’ sonatas, in which the string instrument provided a supportive role to the keyboard’s dominating textures. Here we witness a gradual incorporation of a ‘dramatic dialogue’ between instruments which had previously been more important in concerto writing. Beethoven’s Sonata No. 5 in F major Op. 24 is described by musicologist Angus Watson as ‘an exquisite testament to Beethoven’s profoundly religious feeling for the natural world’. © Challenge Classics
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Classical - Released November 6, 2020 | Challenge Classics

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Leading Dutch composer Robin de Raaff releases his fourth project on Challenge Classics, Atlantis. It is dedicated to the memory of Pierre Boulez, the last of the modernists. This release is live-recorded and conducted by Markus Stenz, one of the greatest contemporary musical specialists. Robin de Raaff completed Atlantis in the summer of 2016. The work is a complex and impressive oratorio that renovates the contemporary perspective of this musical genre. De Raaff uses the voice as a lyrical element to let it soar above the orchestral timbres. Atlantis is based to a large extent on “Atlantis”, the final poem in Hart Crane’s collection Bridges. De Raaff links a pessimistic future perspective to this hyper-symbolic and very complex poem. Boulez, the last surviving giant of post-War modernism, passed away while De Raaff was working on Atlantis. "Boulez was the great proponent of modernism. The island that modernism actually was simply disappeared when he died. This is why I felt a homage would be appropriate". This oratorio is not just an argument for the use of contemporary vocal skills as an element of the entire history of music, but also and primarily a warning about stewardship of water and the future of our planet. © Challenge Classics
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Classical - Released October 16, 2020 | Challenge Classics

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Classical - Released October 9, 2020 | Challenge Classics

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Classical - Released October 2, 2020 | Challenge Classics

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For about 150 years it was believed that Schubert composed his Ninth Symphony in 1828, not long before his death but, musical scholarship being a continuous process, this theory was later disproved. It was discovered in the late 20th century that in fact he composed most of this work three years earlier and revised it in 1826 and 1827. Following a period of poor health, 1825 was a better year for Schubert, while his finances were also improved. Schubert never heard a single performance of many of his works, including this great symphony. When it was rehearsed in 1827 at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, the string players complained that passages in which a rhythmic figure is obsessively repeated, especially in the finale, were unplayable. In May 1824, Schubert attended the first performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Beethoven revolutionised symphonic form, expanding its expressive range enormously, his Ninth Symphony in particular being conceived on a much grander scale than any previous symphony. Schubert was just one of many composers influenced by Beethoven’s achievements. Many scholars have suggested the various ways in which Schubert was influenced by Beethoven, but the most extraordinary aspect of Schubert's mature music is its complete individuality. The compositional techniques, the handling of tonality and structure, and the orchestral sound of these two contemporaries have very little in common. Schubert’s own profound originality is all the more striking for its emergence at a time when Beethoven's impact on the development of the symphony was so revolutionary and far-reaching. © Challenge Classics