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Opera - Released September 4, 2020 | CPO

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Sacred Oratorios - Released September 4, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
Leopold I., Holy Roman emperor during whose lengthy reign (1658–1705) — King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, Archduchy of Austria —, assigned music a central place in the cultural life of Baroque era. He encouraged the production of music at his Vienna court and composed over 150 arias in Italian, some German-language oratorios and musical comedies, and many sacred works. His oratorio Il Sagrificio d'Abramo occupies a special place among Viennese Passion compositions because the figure of Isaac is described as a prefiguration of Christ. Since the librettist, Conte Caldana, places the sacrifice scene in the foreground in the first part of his text, an entirely new level of meaning is created. As a result, Ubidienza (Obedience) and Humanità (Humanity) become Abraham's partners in dialogue from the very beginning. Although Leopold was only twenty years old at the time, he was already a composer of true mastery who was also able in his music to capture in tones the hopelessness of the situation and in part to venture beyond the actual limits of tonality as observed and understood by his contemporaries. Leopold's Miserere is appealing above all because of its unusual instrumentation consisting exclusively of stringed instruments. (CPO)
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Classical - Released September 4, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
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Classical - Released August 14, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
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Classical - Released August 14, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
CD$9.99

Classical - Released August 14, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
CD$20.99

Opera - Released August 14, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
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Chamber Music - Released August 14, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
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Opera - Released August 7, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
CD$9.99

Classical - Released August 7, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
CD$9.99

Classical - Released August 7, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
CD$20.99

Classical - Released August 7, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
CD$9.99

Chamber Music - Released August 7, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
CD$9.99

Opera - Released August 7, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
CD$9.99

Classical - Released August 7, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
CD$9.99

Chamber Music - Released August 7, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
CD$9.99

Chamber Music - Released August 7, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
CD$20.99

Opera - Released August 7, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released July 10, 2020 | CPO

Even in the context of Georg Philip Telemann being known as one of the most prolific composers of all time, the fact that he composed over 40 passion settings is extraordinary. Equally extraordinary is that they generally don't get much of a look-in when it comes to either recordings or performances. In fact, while Kurt Redel rescued and recorded the St. Mark Passion of 1959 for Philips back in 1965, to my knowledge this is now unavailable, making this offering from Hermann Max and his musicians effectively the only one in town. It's a shame too, because while Telemann's passions perhaps don't have the contrapuntal complexity of the big four by his dear friend J. S. Bach, this new recording serves as a welcome reminder that in them, beyond oodles of dramatic flair heightened by highly effective word-painting (check out the racing semiquaver figures opening Ekkehard Abele's urgent Ihr fliehet recitative, for instance), Telemann displayed all his usual talents for beautiful melodies capable of instantly hooking in the “common man”. Likewise with the libretto, because this features freshly-penned “poetical reflections” added to the Evangelist's text. Plus, when 1759 was nine years after the death of Bach, we're firmly out of the fugal era and firmly into the hummable galant era anyway. Back to Max and his band, and this is a period instrument offering using a contemporary manuscript housed in Brussels which until recently had been wrongly attributed to Johann Heinrich Rolle. Also worth saying up top is that the Evangelist part, which Telemann scored unusually for male alto, has been transposed down an octave into the baritone range. As for how it sounds, the answer is heavenly. For starters, it's been recorded in a wonderfully generous acoustic of the Klosterbasilika Knechtsteden, Dormagen, which gives a great sense of space and atmosphere to the music. Then there's the actual performances – bright, lucid, beautifully blended choral singing from the Rheinische Kantorei; crisply warm, vibrant and lyrical playing from Das Kleine Konzert; loving, under-the-libretto's-skin interpretations from the soloists themselves, topped by tenor George Poplutz as the Evangelist. Highlights? Well, beyond telling you to just listen to the lot, one example of all the top-draw singing, stylish orchestral playing and engineering balance coming beautifully together would be the way the super-glued-together pair of flutes softly chutter, coo and weave themselves around silvery-pure Veronika Winter in the aria Lieblich's Wort aus Jesu Munde, placed just behind both her and the brightly glowing strings in the balance. Really though, carve out the time to immerse yourself in this one from start to finish. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz