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Cinema Music - To be released February 25, 2022 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - To be released January 7, 2022 | harmonia mundi

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Chamber Music - To be released January 7, 2022 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released November 19, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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In a follow-up to her acclaimed album of Mahler songs, Christiane Karg takes us on a Christmas tour, in the select company of fellow music-makers. Revisiting holiday memories through the eyes of a child, but with the benefit of her superb artistry as a lieder specialist, the German soprano shines a light on some enchanting rarities of German and French repertoire, along with examples of Spanish, Basque, and Scandinavian traditions... A treasure trove of hidden gems! © harmonia mundi
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Classical - Released November 19, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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With the two books of The Well-Tempered Clavier, Johann Sebastian Bach left posterity one of the most dazzling masterpieces in the history of music. Formal rigour and musical emotion meet in perfect communion. Following several outstanding recordings of other works by Bach, Andreas Staier invites us to climb this Everest once again, but starting, as it were, with the north face, the second book, and revealing its poetry, its sensibility and its daunting architecture with the utmost naturalness. © harmonia mundi
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Classical - Released November 19, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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Les Siècles is one of France's finest early music ensembles, and its work in repertoire from the Baroque era to the Romantic period is fascinating for its precision, attention to historical details, and most of all, commitment to original instrumentation. This live album of Camille Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3 in C minor, "Organ," and the Piano Concerto No. 4 in C minor offers a close-up presentation of Les Siècles' methods and sounds, and the interpretations by conductor François-Xavier Roth, pianist Jean-François Heisser, and organist Daniel Roth give a clear idea of what they and the ensemble deliver as authentic Romantic sound. In these performances, the orchestra is chamber size, the strings play with minimal vibrato, the woodwinds have a slightly pungent quality, and the brass have a distinct cutting edge, unlike modern instruments. Yet there is a striking imbalance when the organ and percussion are heard in the last half of the symphony, due to the extremely reverberant space of Sainte-Sulpice, Paris. The orchestra seems tiny in comparison with the tremendous volume of the full Cavaillé-Coll organ, while the timpani and bass drum create an enormous roar that might be thrilling for anyone seeking a big noise, but unnecessarily explosive for admirers of this work. The balance of forces is much better in the concerto, which was recorded in the drier acoustics of the Opéra Comique, Paris, and the finer points of the playing and the instruments can be heard more clearly. While this disc is unlikely to supplant recordings of cherished modern performances of these works, it's worth hearing to get an idea of the colors Saint-Saëns had to work with. Harmonia Mundi's sound is clean and focused, except where the acoustics blur the sound. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 12, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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The scale and detail of Benjamin Alard’s project to record all of Bach’s keyboard music only becomes more apparent as the series progresses. For a quick reminder, he’s grouping works not by genre but by chronology, meaning that any given volume represents a huge breadth of style. Also of instrument types and timbres, because as painstaking as the actual programming has been his matching of repertoire to an array of beautiful instruments, often thinking well outside the usual box. Volume 5 sits at the end of Bach’s youthful Weimar period, just before the action moves to the Cöthen, and those for whom Alard’s choices of keyboard have proved to be an especial source of fascination will want to know that this is the first volume for which Alard has introduced a clavichord to the mix – the only forerunner of the piano that was capable of producing dynamic variation by weight of touch alone. His chosen instrument is the Philharmonie de Paris’s silvery Émile Jobin clavichord (1998) after Christian Gottfried Friederici Gera (1773), and the soft, expressive intimacy it brings to Bach’s concerto transcriptions, such as the Concerto in G minor BWV 985 after a Telemann violin concerto, is very beguiling. As is the singing, dainty lilt he and it have brought to the Toccata in G major BWV 916. Which brings me to the volume’s other defining feature, which is its celebration of the art of the “toccata” (Italian for “touch”) style - one of improvisatory, unmeasured passages alternating with fugal sections. And Alard has in fact begun the whole programme with a nimbly elegant, fleet-footedly momentum-filled reading of the most famous toccata of all, the mighty Toccata and fugue in D minor BWV 565, which he performs on the bright-toned Quentin Blumenroeder organ in Paris’s Temple du Foyer de l’Âme. As for the final instrument on the billing, it’s the welcome return of the big-toned beauty we heard on Volume 4 – the Philippe Humeau copy of a 1720 Hamburg pedal harpsichord, which here Alard uses to bring ringing drama (magnificent trills….) to works such as the Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 538. In short, I’m already joyfully anticipating the Cöthen years. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Concertos - Released November 5, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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Unexpected Beethoven. With Beethoven’s Piano Concertos No. 4 and Op. 61a, the latter being the composer’s own transcription of his Violin Concerto, Gianluca Cascioli, Riccardo Minasi and Ensemble Resonanz present two milestones of the piano literature. Basing their interpretation on intensive source research in the archives of the Vienna Musikverein and on handwritten notes by Beethoven, the performers suggest an alternative, more varied and virtuosic version of the piano part in Concerto No. 4. © harmonia mundi
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Opera - Released October 29, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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A marsh nymph thinks she is so irresistible that Jupiter himself will take an interest in her... Brimming with exceptional dramatic and musical verve, this strangely under-recorded "ballet bouffon" offers us Rameau’s art in a nutshell: glittering orchestration, harmonies and rhythms of unprecedented modernity. William Christie and his comrades plunge with delight into what is one of its composer’s most fascinating works. © harmonia mundi
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Classical - Released October 29, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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The famous ensemble specialising in the recreation of medieval music, the Boston Camerata, had already recorded an album devoted to the medieval Christmas in 1974, under the direction of its founder Joel Cohen, now their Music Director Emeritus. Conducted by his Franco-American wife Anne Azéma since 2008, the Boston Camerata now returns to this theme in a style so blindingly different from that of their pioneering days, almost fifty years ago.Whilst the spirit remains, the result takes into account all the expertise and the knowledge acquired since the first records by this New England, Massachusetts ensemble. Three singers and two instrumentalists bring to it their knowledge resulting from a great many years spent exploring the medieval repertoires. The present recording, made in July 2021 at St. Ignatius Church in Loyola in the Boston area, is from the last in a series of concerts performed on the East and West coasts of the United States and Canada.The programme for this new album is drawn from a wide variety of geographical and stylistic sources. Latin, Provençal, vernacular, the languages are set free on the anniversary of the Christmas Miracle in an eclectic repertoire. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released October 22, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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Recorded in the inspiring settings of the Château de Chambord in 2020, this album does justice to Louis de Caix d'Hervelois, whose career, like Watteau's paintings and Marivaux's plays, began in the eighteenth century. His elegance, lightness and delicate eroticism can still impart a certain frisson in an age when seriousness and constraints of all kinds have rather displaced a certain joie de vivre.Likely a pupil of Marin Marais, Caix d'Hervelois wrote and published extensively for the viola da gamba, an instrument that was in the final stages of its development and would shortly be supplanted by the cello, which was more sonorous and easier to play. He left a considerable legacy in stone as well as in music, which he taught to a great many pupils. A totally independent musician, which was very rare at the time, he made his living from tutoring the bourgeoisie of Paris, from his publications and, above all, it seems, from his real estate investments: for this excellent musician was also a formidable businessman.At first, his style was inspired by that of his master Marin Marais. But it evolved in a new direction, oriented towards lightness and virtuosity. In hushed salons, listeners came to be intoxicated by the original and playful harmonies of this Picard who had come to Paris seeking fame and fortune. The delicacy of his music and the modesty of his art still touch listeners today, especially since the musicians of the ensemble La Rêveuse, led by Florence Bolton on viol and Benjamin Perrot on continuo, bring consummate artistry to bear on this characterful example of fine French art. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released October 1, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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After his recent Schubert album, Adam Laloum pays a visit to Brahms: the young prodigy of the early 1850s immediately established himself as the worthy heir of Beethoven and Schumann with his dazzling Sonata No. 3. Almost forty years later, we find him just as wild and in no way mellowed – quite the contrary: he continues to explore new horizons in his Fantasias Op. 116, where recollections of the old masters of the Classical keyboard mingle with incredibly modern intuitions. © harmonia mundi
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Classical - Released October 1, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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For Romain Leleu, what we call "classical" music could never have gained all its richness and variety without absorbing manifold influences from “popular” music that continues to be its fuel since the dawn of time! Parallel to the release of his album of film music prominently featuring the trumpet, the French virtuoso, backed by his friends and partners in the Romain Leleu Sextet, has brought into a face to face dialogue a selection of hit tunes from far-flung sources that transcend genres and national borders. © harmonia mundi
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Concertos - Released September 17, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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Buoyancy, elegance, crisp rhythmics, precise articulation, bristling timbres… All modes of description that I’m likely to have at some point used to outline the strengths of a Bach Brandenburgs release, when not only do new recordings of this famous Köthen-composed set appear with a steady regularity, but when there’s also a consistency to both the performance standards, and the performance style and decisions that you’ll hear across especially the more recent offerings. Not because Historically Informed Performance ensembles have no imagination, but because Bach was in fact incredibly precise about what he wanted, meaning very little has been left to the imagination. Also because Baroque performances these days are all able to draw on the received wisdom of what is now decades of HIP scholarship and practice. All that said, this new offering from the Akademie fűr Alte Musik Berlin under its concertmasters Georg Kallweit and Bernhard Forck, feels different. For starters it’s different to the ensemble’s earlier Brandenburgs recording, which now is almost twenty-five years old. Partly this is down to tools, when a quarter of a century ago the instrument-making world hadn’t quite caught up with period performance no longer being a niche enterprise, meaning fewer high-class period copies to be found, and thus more mediocre instruments sitting in the world’s baroque bands. Then it’s also partly due to a change in the continuo department, because this time there’s no double bass – a reflection of the belief that, at time of composition, the “violone grosso” was yet to arrive in Köthen. Yet it’s not just a matter of lighter continuo textures or an orchestra of top-drawer instruments. Or even of the range of light and shade the orchestra are bringing to their colouring. More, it’s the sense of joyous intimacy and excitement radiating from absolutely everyone, combined with the sheer effortless of the virtuosity you’re hearing at every fresh turn. No doubt this is due in no small part to the presence of the ensemble’s longtime collaborator, violinist Isabelle Faust, and its recent new collaborator violist Antoine Tamestit; because while theirs are hardly “prima donna” star turns (after all, these are democratic, multi-instrument concertos, and Faust and Tamestit have correspondingly submerged themselves into the ensemble), it’s also true that Faust’s solo pyrotechnics in No. 4, and her lovely interplay with the recorders, had me wanting to rewind; and that No. 6 for two violas, two gambas and obligato cello is especially ringing with tonal beauty and sprightly vim. What’s more, the aforementioned lack of double bass has yielded a concluding Allegro for No. 6 that stands as one of the set’s absolute highlights: notably warmly climactic and uplifting, but equally notably light of tread and transparent of texture in a way that’s strikingly, surprisingly successful. Worth emphasising also is that the sense of occasion is by no means limited to where Faust and Tamestit have their solo turns. For instance, I can’t remember having ever been so captivated by the tonal beauty and shaping of the harpsichord’s virtuosities in No. 5’s opening Allegro as I am here by Raphael Alpermann’s glittering figures. In short, don’t hesitate. This is superb from start to finish. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Classical - Released September 10, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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In 2018, Paul Lewis embarked on an exploration of one of the richest bodies of work of the Classical era: the keyboard sonatas of Haydn. For this second volume, the British pianist tackles some of the most remarkable pieces in this vast oeuvre: the exceptionally concise Sonata in D major, Hob. XVI:51, for example, which is surprisingly pre-Romantic (Schubert is not far off!), or the celebrated Sonata in E-flat major, Hob. XVI:52, with which Haydn conferred well-nigh symphonic dimensions on the keyboard sonata for the very first time. © harmonia mundi
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Chamber Music - Released September 3, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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After the early quartets and the famous "Dissonance" Quartet, the Cuarteto Casals continues its exploration of the set of works Mozart dedicated to Joseph Haydn. Here one composer took on the mantle of the other: the younger man, who had now settled in Vienna and had just started a family, was going through an exceptional period of creativity, transfiguring everything he touched with his genius. An exhilarating experience for our Catalan musicians, following hard on the heels of their acclaimed Beethoven cycle. © harmonia mundi
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Symphonies - Released September 3, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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After two recordings devoted to Mahler’s Third and Fifth symphonies, François-Xavier Roth continues his exploration of the major works premiered by the Gürzenich Orchestra. In the spotlight this time are two of the young Richard Strauss’s most brilliant achievements: Till Eulenspiegel and Don Quixote. In the latter, a symphonic poem in the guise of a double concerto, Jean-Guihen Queyras and Tabea Zimmermann form a picaresque duo playing the Knight of the Doleful Countenance and his squire Sancho Panza. © harmonia mundi
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Art Songs, Mélodies & Lieder - Released August 27, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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Roman accounts of the nobleman Kapsperger reveal a highly eccentric musician: a virtuoso theorbist, a singer, a successful composer, he was said to be arrogant, even irascible... A character straight out of a novel, as the musicians of L’Escadron Volant de la Reine present him in their first album on harmonia mundi, aided and abetted by a distinguished partner: on this colourful disc, the madrigals, villanellas and arias of "Il Tedeschino" (The German) meet the literary fantasy of the writer Carl Norac. © harmonia mundi
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Classical - Released August 27, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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It's appropriate to have a performance of Igor Stravinsky's L'histoire du soldat performed by an ensemble featuring violinist Isabelle Faust, for this little melodrama is a bit Faustian with its story of a traveling soldier who sells his fiddle to the Devil in return for economic gain. Faust leads a jazz-like septet of violin, double bass, clarinet, cornet, bassoon, and percussion. If it does not really succeed as jazz (Stravinsky apparently gave himself a crash course in the subject, and the Ragtime section in the second part is especially distant from its American models), the music is a lively and edgy potpourri of styles that, more than anything else Stravinsky wrote, looks forward to postmodern juxtapositions. The narration of Dominique Horwitz, playing the parts of the Narrator, the Soldier, and the Devil, lies a bit uncomfortably between French and English, and there are other points on which one might quibble. Overall though, this is a performance that captures exactly what Stravinsky was trying to accomplish, and it has the energy the work must have had in 1918. The use of the English language is a bonus, and the Teldex Studio sound is excellent. © TiVo
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Classical - Released August 27, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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