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Concertos - Released April 3, 2020 | Erato - Warner Classics

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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 15, 2019 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Christina Pluhar has long been interested in the vocal music of the 17th century, in particular that of composer Luigi Rossi born around 1597 in the beautiful province of Puglia. He was the titular composer to the Medicis in Florence before taking a job with Cardinal Barberini in Rome. In France, Cardinal Mazarin commissioned him to produce the first Italian opera written specifically for the French court. In a manner of speaking, Rossi is at the root of the productions that another Italian, Lully, would later write for Louis XIV. In 2005, Christina Pluhar had recorded the Lyra d'Orfeo, taken from Rossi's desk drawer, with her ensemble L'Arpeggiata, with the voice of Veronique Gens in all its splendour. But a legal problem arose which prevented its production as a record for nearly 15 years. With the lawsuit ongoing, Christina Pluhar completed her project with Arpa Davidica, a new original compilation of works by Luigi Rossi, which she and her assistants discovered in various libraries. Pluhar has selected a series of virtuoso, theatrical pieces geared closely to the lyrics, as Rossi would set to music the most beautiful poems of his day. Taking on the best voices of the moment, Cécile Scheen, Giuseppina Bridelli, Philippe Jaroussky, Jakub Józef Orliński and Valer Sabadus, Christina Pluhar has pulled out all the stops to bring enchanting and incredibly musically-rich material back to life. The few indications relating to the instrumental accompaniment left on the manuscripts leave the performers almost total freedom. They can imagine all sorts of instrumental combinations to link complicated melismas with the virtuosity of the vocal lines that the composer intended. The interpretation also works as a complete recreation. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released September 29, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

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For this double album, pianist Alexandre Tharaud invited a spectacular array of guest performers to join him in paying tribute to the great French singer-songwriter known simply as Barbara. One of the icons of the poetic chanson française, Barbara shares a place of honour with two other ‘B’s’, Jacques Brel and Georges Brassens. Among her most celebrated songs are ‘Ma plus belle histoire d'amour’, ‘Göttingen’, ‘Dis, quand reviendras-tu?’, ‘Mes hommes’ and ‘Nantes’. It is 20 years since Barbara died, aged 67, on November 24th 1997. Alexandre Tharaud’s idea for this album dates back to the day of her funeral. He, like many other fans, went to the cemetery in Bagneux on the outskirts of Paris. After the crowds and TV cameras had departed, a group of devotees remained at her grave and joined in an impromptu rendition of her songs. “I realised then that Barbara would live on through our voices,” says Tharaud. “I was young, but the recording studio was already central to my life. That morning, at Bagneux Cemetery, I vowed to make an album dedicated entirely to the music of Barbara. I needed time, and singers … The guests on this album are not those anonymous mourners, but dear friends I have invited to lend their own unique voices to this tribute” . For Hommage à Barbara, Tharaud has assembled a rich and imaginative line-up of performers from a variety of generations and diverse artistic and cultural backgrounds. While there is inevitably a Gallic bias among them, many of their names are well known around the globe. Among them are: actress-singers Juliette Binoche, Vanessa Paradis and Jane Birkin; rock star Radio Elvis; singer-songwriters Bénabar, Juliette, Dominique A, Tim Dup, Jean-Louis Aubert and Albin de la Simone; singers Camélia Jordana, Rokia Traoré, Hindi Zahra and Luz Casal; actor-director Guillaume Gallienne; Erato violinist Renaud Capuçon, clarinettist Michel Portal and the Modigliani string quartet. Alexandre Tharaud himself plays on nearly all the tracks – not just piano, but also electronic organ and keyboards, celesta and bells. Barbara was born in Paris in 1930 as Monique Serf, but she adopted her stage name from her grandmother, Varvara Brodsky, who had been born in Odessa. Her family was Jewish, and she was forced into hiding during World War II. Her suffering as a child was compounded by her sexually abusive father who eventually deserted the family when she was in her teens. She had some conservatory training as both a singer and pianist, but soon began to make her living as a performer, and spent a formative period working in Brussels in the early 1950s. She returned to Paris, where she became friends with the Belgian-born Jacques Brel and built a reputation in the clubs of the Latin Quarter, notably L’Écluse on the banks of the Seine. Her career began to take off in the early 1960s when she attracted attention with songs that she had written herself. Barbara became an important and much-loved figure, sometimes known as ‘La Dame en noir’, a reference to her penchant for elegant black dresses. If her signature number was ‘Ma plus belle histoire d'amour’, her song ‘Göttingen’, named after the city in Saxony, became an anthem of reconciliation for France and Germany; indeed, on the 40th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty in 2003, the then German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, quoted the song in his speech at Versailles. She was a favourite of François Mitterrand, France’s President from 1981-1995, developed a creative collaboration with the actor Gérard Depardieu, and in 1986 performed with ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov in a glittering gala at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. In the course of the 1980s she became active in the fight against AIDS and lent her name to a number of human rights causes. For all her fame and success, she had a difficult private life and suffered from debilitating ill health in her latter years, though she continued to write and record songs, releasing her last album in 1996. © Warner
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Classical - Released September 29, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica - Qobuzissime - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
For their first recording, the Arod Quartet has selected Mendelssohn, one of the pillars of the quartet's art, in particular his masterpiece, the Fourth Quartet in E Minor of June 1837 - more Mozartian than Beethovian in its structure and development, to be sure, even if it bears Mendelssohn's hallmark from the first note to the last. To find the influence of the deaf genius, we have to look in the Second Quartet Op. 13 of 1827, a work written shortly after Beethoven's death, the full extent of whose innovations Mendelssohn was only just discovering. The Arod Quartet continues its album with Four Pieces for Quartet, assembled posthumously and numbered Op. 81 by Mendelssohn's successor at the Gewandhaus, Julius Rietz, and based on four disparate pieces from various eras. Finally, the album closes with the Arod's re-interpretaton of a Lied, sung here by Marianne Crebassa, whose theme takes in several passages from Beethoven note for note, a real homage from the young composer to his illustrious elder. It’s worth noting that the Arod Quartet, only founded in 2013, has shot to global prominence, having performed at the Paris Philharmonic, the Louvre Auditorium, the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, the Metz Arsenal, and further afield the Salzburg Mozarteum, the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Zurich Tonhalle, London's Wigmore Hall, as well as in Tokyo, Finland, Switzerland... the list goes on! © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released September 29, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

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Classical - Released September 29, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

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France's Quatuor Arod has made something of a specialty of Mendelssohn since coming on the scene in 2013, and the result is an unusual group of Mendelssohn string quartet performances, diverging from both German and English models. The members of the quartet have said that they see these works as intimate, reflective of the composer's life, and that's how they play them: with intensity, passion, power, and a good deal of speed laid on in the outer movements. Start your sampling with the String Quartet in A minor, Op. 13, where the Arod could not diverge more strongly from existing interpretations. In their reading, the model for this A minor quartet is the vast late one of Beethoven, the String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132. Mendelssohn's attitude toward Beethoven might be regarded as a lifelong effort to understand his accomplishment: largely unsuccessful, but no less interesting for that. Mendelssohn had no answer for Beethoven's vast, modal slow movement, but the outer movements, with the opening movement's slow introduction and innovatively treated operatic first-movement, first-violin melodies reveal all kinds of traces of Beethoven in the Arod's hands. The String Quartet in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2, likewise refers back to Beethoven, this time to the second "Rasumovsky" quartet, the String Quartet No. 8 in E minor, Op. 59, No. 2, and here Mendelssohn comes closer to his taut, tumultuous model in the Arod's gripping performance. The interest level drops a bit at the end of the program, with the rarely recorded set of string quartet pieces, Op. 81, and a song arranged for voice and string quartet (not a bad idea in itself, but not coherent with the high-mindedness of the rest of the program). Yet this is a very strong outing for the Quatuor Arod, a natural with the members' charismatic looks for the Erato label and its partnership with Warner Classics. One looks forward to music by Beethoven himself from this young group. © TiVo
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Classical - Released May 12, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

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Classical - Released May 5, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
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Classical - Released May 5, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

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Giacomo Meyerbeer, the French composer with an Italian-German name (adopted) and a Jewish background, was the toast of Paris for much of the middle 19th century, the musical collaborator of the great Eugène Scribe, and the single person in whose hands the genre of grand opera most clearly took shape. His music fell out of fashion among the late Romantics, was further depressed by Nazi bans, and has taken a while to come back into style. This fine anthology by German soprano Diana Damrau will help his cause. Plainly a labor of love, the album includes arias in German (one very early) and Italian as well as French, and among the latter from opéras comiques as well as grand opera. Some of the music sounds like Rossini, some like Wagner (whom Meyerbeer backed early in his career and was repaid by an anti-Semitic campaign), but most of it has a distinctive voice marked above all by splendid vocal writing. The music often hangs in the soprano's top register, and Damrau evokes how Meyerbeer's audiences must have felt on the knife's edge. There are examples of Meyerbeer's masterful orchestration, such as the flute duo from L'étoile du Nord, and the support from the Orchestra and Chorus of the National Opera of Lyon is top-notch, as is Erato's engineering. One gets the impression here that no expense was spared, rare enough in opera these days, and that the money was well spent. To hear it all tied together, sample "O beau pays de la Touraine", with Damrau excelling in both the haunting middle section and the fireworks of the finale. Brava! © TiVo
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Classical - Released May 5, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Booklet
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Classical - Released May 5, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Booklet
Giacomo Meyerbeer, the French composer with an Italian-German name (adopted) and a Jewish background, was the toast of Paris for much of the middle 19th century, the musical collaborator of the great Eugène Scribe, and the single person in whose hands the genre of grand opera most clearly took shape. His music fell out of fashion among the late Romantics, was further depressed by Nazi bans, and has taken a while to come back into style. This fine anthology by German soprano Diana Damrau will help his cause. Plainly a labor of love, the album includes arias in German (one very early) and Italian as well as French, and among the latter from opéras comiques as well as grand opera. Some of the music sounds like Rossini, some like Wagner (whom Meyerbeer backed early in his career and was repaid by an anti-Semitic campaign), but most of it has a distinctive voice marked above all by splendid vocal writing. The music often hangs in the soprano's top register, and Damrau evokes how Meyerbeer's audiences must have felt on the knife's edge. There are examples of Meyerbeer's masterful orchestration, such as the flute duo from L'étoile du Nord, and the support from the Orchestra and Chorus of the National Opera of Lyon is top-notch, as is Erato's engineering. One gets the impression here that no expense was spared, rare enough in opera these days, and that the money was well spent. To hear it all tied together, sample "O beau pays de la Touraine", with Damrau excelling in both the haunting middle section and the fireworks of the finale. Brava! © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 21, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles Classica
Many of the earlier recordings of the French choir Accentus and its director, Laurence Equilbey, focused on late Romantic or 20th century repertory, including, one time, texted symphonic music by Mahler. Equilbey has turned her attention to the Classical period, however, first to Haydn, and then, with Accentus' fine 2014 recording of the Requiem in D minor, K. 626, to Mozart. That album was on Naxos, but now Accentus and Equilbey's period-instrument Insula Orchestra move to Parlophone/Warner Classics, with a bit of a bump up in sound quality: the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Saint-Omer is kind to Accentus' uniquely lush sound. You wouldn't necessarily think that sound would fit Mozart, but Equilbey proves herself a skilled Mozartian, forging clean contrasts between the rich choir and the vibrato-free Insula strings. The result here is a superb reading of the Mozart warhorse Mass in C major, K. 317 ("Coronation"), with its closely associated Vesperae solennes de confessore, K. 339. The mass features musical material so simple that you can't see how it could possibly be as beautiful as it is, but that's the nature of Mozart's mastery of musical time. What pushes this recording into the top rank of available "Coronation" recordings is the presence of fine soloists, most of all the divine Sandrine Piau on the soprano line. Sample the end of the "Gloria," where she adds an angelic, dancing "Amen" of the kind few other recordings have boasted. Throughout, Equilbey manages the relationships among orchestra, choir, and soloists well, and although the choir is coolly consistent, she gets the exuberance of the repeated "Credo in unum Deum" at the end of the "Credo," an unusual and telling feature of the mass. Strongly recommended Mozart. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 21, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Booklet
Many of the earlier recordings of the French choir Accentus and its director, Laurence Equilbey, focused on late Romantic or 20th century repertory, including, one time, texted symphonic music by Mahler. Equilbey has turned her attention to the Classical period, however, first to Haydn, and then, with Accentus' fine 2014 recording of the Requiem in D minor, K. 626, to Mozart. That album was on Naxos, but now Accentus and Equilbey's period-instrument Insula Orchestra move to Parlophone/Warner Classics, with a bit of a bump up in sound quality: the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Saint-Omer is kind to Accentus' uniquely lush sound. You wouldn't necessarily think that sound would fit Mozart, but Equilbey proves herself a skilled Mozartian, forging clean contrasts between the rich choir and the vibrato-free Insula strings. The result here is a superb reading of the Mozart warhorse Mass in C major, K. 317 ("Coronation"), with its closely associated Vesperae solennes de confessore, K. 339. The mass features musical material so simple that you can't see how it could possibly be as beautiful as it is, but that's the nature of Mozart's mastery of musical time. What pushes this recording into the top rank of available "Coronation" recordings is the presence of fine soloists, most of all the divine Sandrine Piau on the soprano line. Sample the end of the "Gloria," where she adds an angelic, dancing "Amen" of the kind few other recordings have boasted. Throughout, Equilbey manages the relationships among orchestra, choir, and soloists well, and although the choir is coolly consistent, she gets the exuberance of the repeated "Credo in unum Deum" at the end of the "Credo," an unusual and telling feature of the mass. Strongly recommended Mozart. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 7, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica
Philippe Jordan's 2017 release on Erato brings together Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, as orchestrated by Maurice Ravel, and Sergei Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1 in D major, "Classical," two popular works that showcase the orchestra brilliantly. Originally composed for piano, Pictures at an Exhibition is a virtuoso showpiece for pianists, and Ravel, inspired by Mussorgsky's attempt to translate paintings into sound, used the orchestra to give the work vivid tone colors and richer textures. Prokofiev composed the Classical Symphony away from the piano, finding it more helpful for developing his themes. Yet he took the modest 18th century symphony into the modern era, introducing piquant dissonances and abrupt key changes to tweak conservative sensibilities, and playfully used the orchestra in ways Haydn and Mozart never imagined. Jordan and the Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Paris deliver vigorous performances of both works, and the exceptional recording brings out the clarity of the parts and Jordan's subtle phrasing and shading of sonorities. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 7, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles Classica
This Warner Classics release is billed as music by Beethoven, but most of it fits only partly under that rubric. Les Vents Français experienced well-deserved success for their French-heavy programs on recordings and in concert, and it is understandable that they would like to branch out with Beethoven. But in so doing, they get into pretty obscure territory. The Trio in C major, Op. 87, despite its high opus number, is an early work, like all the other genuine pieces on the album, composed in 1795. Originally for two oboes and English horn, it is transcribed here for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon by John P. Newhill, who wrote a book on the basset-horn. The most interesting of the bunch is the Trio in G major for piano, flute, and bassoon, WoO 37, one of the not-abundant works by the teenage Beethoven in Bonn. With its sizable first movement, virtuoso piano part, and vigorous interchange among the instruments, it points toward the mature Beethoven more than the later, but essentially incidental, works on the rest of the album. The Variations on Là ci darem la mano, WoO 28, are also a transcription (by Fritz Stein), while the Duo in B flat for clarinet and bassoon, WoO 27, No. 3, is thought to be spurious and is full of infelicitous voice-leading, unlikely from the student of Albrechtsberger and Haydn. The Horn Sonata in F major, Op. 17, is genuine Beethoven, tossed off in a day, but intelligently written for the French horn. What keeps the miscellany afloat is the playing of Les Vents Français, which once again is surpassingly elegant, a model of Classical-style wind playing. They get a strong assist from Bavarian Radio engineers, working in the Bavarian Musikstudios in Munich. Recommended for Beethoven enthusiasts. © TiVo
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Chamber Music - Released April 7, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Booklet
This Warner Classics release is billed as music by Beethoven, but most of it fits only partly under that rubric. Les Vents Français experienced well-deserved success for their French-heavy programs on recordings and in concert, and it is understandable that they would like to branch out with Beethoven. But in so doing, they get into pretty obscure territory. The Trio in C major, Op. 87, despite its high opus number, is an early work, like all the other genuine pieces on the album, composed in 1795. Originally for two oboes and English horn, it is transcribed here for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon by John P. Newhill, who wrote a book on the basset-horn. The most interesting of the bunch is the Trio in G major for piano, flute, and bassoon, WoO 37, one of the not-abundant works by the teenage Beethoven in Bonn. With its sizable first movement, virtuoso piano part, and vigorous interchange among the instruments, it points toward the mature Beethoven more than the later, but essentially incidental, works on the rest of the album. The Variations on Là ci darem la mano, WoO 28, are also a transcription (by Fritz Stein), while the Duo in B flat for clarinet and bassoon, WoO 27, No. 3, is thought to be spurious and is full of infelicitous voice-leading, unlikely from the student of Albrechtsberger and Haydn. The Horn Sonata in F major, Op. 17, is genuine Beethoven, tossed off in a day, but intelligently written for the French horn. What keeps the miscellany afloat is the playing of Les Vents Français, which once again is surpassingly elegant, a model of Classical-style wind playing. They get a strong assist from Bavarian Radio engineers, working in the Bavarian Musikstudios in Munich. Recommended for Beethoven enthusiasts. © TiVo
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Classical - Released March 24, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Classical - Released March 3, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte - 4 étoiles Classica
Brahms' two string sextets, like other works in the genre, are generally played by established string quartets with added players. Ad hoc groupings are rarely successful for quartets, and in these Brahms works -- some of the most intricate in terms of both balance and contrapuntal interaction that he ever wrote -- the odds of success would seem to be even lower. Yet this version, recorded live at the Aix-en-Provence Easter Festival in 2016, succeeds brilliantly, perhaps because of the presence of a pair of Capuçon brothers, perhaps because of the dominating presence of violinist Renaud Capuçon, who talks in the booklet about his longtime desire to record these pieces, or perhaps for some more elusive reason. It may be French Brahms, all delicacy and quiet and even humor, but delicacy works well in these pieces where so many details are hidden in the counterpoint. Sample the first movement of the String Sextet No. 2 in G major, Op. 36, where the tonal instability of the beginning, with everything growing from the marvelous leading-tone-to-tonic resolution, is nailed. In the hands of these players, the passage sounds like early Debussy, and yet its connections to the main body of the movement are palpable. Everywhere there is evidence of deep acquaintance with the work, even if the group came together only for this concert. The only downside is that the live sound is barely adequate, but this is Brahms to note well, even to treasure. © TiVo
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Classical - Released March 3, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Classical - Released March 3, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

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Marie-Nicole Lemieux triumphantly defies the frequent assertion that the contralto is a dying breed. Moreover, with this live recital of Rossini arias and duets, the Canadian singer proves that a deep, rich, voluminous female voice can move with the same dazzling agility as a light, bright soprano. Since she first came to the world’s attention in 2000, when she won the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition for Opera in Brussels, Lemieux, who has been praised by Gramophone for her “velvet-like voice and generosity in phrasing and thought”, has established herself in a wide variety of operatic roles. Among these are Rossini’s Tancredi and Isabella (L’italiana in Algeri), Handel’s Giulio Cesare and Polinesso (Ariodante), Gluck’s Orphée, Verdi’s Mistress Quickly (Falstaff) and Azucena (Il trovatore) and Saint-Saëns’ Dalila (Samson et Dalila). She is also renowned as a recitalist and concert singer. This Rossini album, recorded in December 2015 in the southern French city of Montpellier, is the first fruit of her exclusive recording agreement with Erato, announced in Spring 2016. She is joined by Italian soprano Patrizia Ciofi, the orchestra and chorus of the Opéra National Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon and conductor Enrique Mazzola in a fascinating programme comprising excerpts from Tancredi (which Lemieux, Ciofi and Mazzola performed at the Opéra Berlioz - Le Corum in Paris in Montpellier in 2015), L’italiana in Algeri, Semiramide, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Matilda di Shabran, La gazza ladra and La pietra del paragone. In addition, Lemieux and Ciofi sharpen their claws in the famous Duetto dei gatti, which is attributed to Rossini (probably spuriously) because it draws on his opera Otello. “Rossini has been a revelation for me,” says Lemieux. “It was such a joy when I first sang L’italiana in Algeri, [at the Opéra National de Lorraine in 2012]. As in Baroque music, you have to display virtuosity, but Rossini allows you to breathe … Strangely, with Rossini, you sing twice as much, but you’re half as tired at the end of the performance! Rossini is organic and well crafted, and he understood the voice perfectly.” (It is worth remembering that Rossini had a long-term relationship with the celebrated Spanish singer Isabella Colbran, for whom he wrote a number of operas.) When Lemieux’s Erato contract was announced, she asked: “Who better than Rossini to celebrate with in all his musical splendour and generosity?” Rossini is clearly very much the right choice. When the contralto sang Tancredi in Paris, La Croix praised “a generous artist with a voice that is both ample and easily produced across its entire tessitura … from the depths to top notes that flash like a cavalier’s sabre,” while Les Echos described her vocal line as “noble, fluid and displaying myriad colours” and Le Monde, citing her “rich, substantial timbre”, lauded a performance that ended in “a death scene of great beauty.” As for her collaboration with Patrizia Ciofi, La Croix spoke of “two magnificent singers who, as a team, raise their art to the peak of opera’s Olympus.” Marie-Nicole Lemieux’s performance in Montpellier was greeted enthusiastically by Opéra Online, which cited “incredible breath control, vertiginous leaps between registers and above all a voice equipped with a sonorous lower register that can caress a line or blaze virtuosically,” before observing that “her generosity … her exuberant, communicative vitality and the relationship that she builds with the listeners, the conductor and the instrumentalists – all this completely won over the audience in Montpellier.”

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Erato - Warner Classics in the magazine