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Classical - Released February 8, 2019 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Unlike usual opera sequences, the ones excerpted from Zimmerman’s Die Soldaten (‘The Soldiers’) which he named Vokal-Sinfonie (Vocal Symphony) were created before the opera as proof that the music was playable. Indeed, its final score posed quite the challenge for the singers, the orchestra, the theatres and for the audience: with sixteen singing roles, around ten spoken roles, an orchestra of about one hundred musicians, crazy percussion instruments, film projectors, tape recordings and extra-musical sound effects – it’s enough to make any opera house fear for their budget! Not to mention the fact that the audience was also subject to the strict dodecaphonic system and some of the opera scenes actually overlapped. Zimmermann initially wanted the piece to be performed on twelve different stages that surrounded the audience who would be sitting on swivelling chairs and would rotate themselves accordingly. However, the idea was rejected by the theatre where the first performance was to take place and the composer finally abandoned the idea and remodelled his work to render it – almost – performable. Here, you can listen to Vokal-Sinfonie from 1963 which has some noticeable similarities with Berg’s Wozzeck, particularly in the raw and deeply moving lyricism of the vocal material. The Sinfonie is followed by the 1968 Photoptosis for full orchestra, one of the composer’s last two works before he died two years later after having suffered from severe depression. The score is both dark and light at the same time and is a work of sheer orchestral genius. The album opens with the 1950 Violin Concerto, which despite its supposedly classic form (Sonata-Fantasia-Rondo) explores the world of modernism in an intense and beautifully dark lyricism. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released May 10, 2019 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
After a cycle of Beethoven Piano Concertos, solo albums of works by Bach and Schubert in addition to a number of award-winning recordings of piano chamber music on Ondine label, pianist Lars Vogt releases an album of Sonatas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791). In this album, two baroque-influenced and virtuosic early sonatas are coupled together with a touching A minor Sonata K. 310 – written at the time of the composer’s mother’s death – and a delightful, Haydnesque Sonata K. 333. Mozart wrote Piano Sonatas K. 280 and K. 281 (Nos. 2 & 3) most likely in 1774, at the age of 18. The elements of Baroque influence are clearly evident in the K. 280 Sonata. A prominent feature in the K. 281 Sonata is, besides its virtuosity, the beautiful slow-movement, “Andante amoroso”. The K. 310 Sonata (No. 8) was written four years later, during the summer of 1778, and is written in a minor key: a rarity among Mozart’s Sonatas. The K. 333 was published in 1784, but the time of its composition might have been earlier. This joyful work with virtuosic passages can be described almost as a Piano Concerto for the solo piano. © Ondine
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released June 14, 2019 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Classical - Released September 13, 2019 | Ondine

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With their album dedicated to Psalms of Repentance by Alfred Schnittke, and two works by Arvo Pärt (BIS), this same line-up won some fine prizes (Diapason d'Or, Gramophone). Kaspars Putniņš leads the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir as they continue on their way through the works of Arvo Pärt with four very seductive scores (including the choral version of Summa): they are starting here, and this forms an ideal introduction to the programme's most major work, which is surely Via Crucis, S. 53 by Franz Liszt, an ample score for piano and choir finished in 1879 in Budapest, recordings of which are all too rare. The voices of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir are sublime here, possessed of an enrapturing depth and purity. This Via Crucis is a perfect summary of the later, most modern Liszt: the writing for piano "comes" directly from the final part of the Years of Pilgrimage. There are such striking similarities with pieces like Angelus! Prière aux anges gardiens or the Sursum corda that one might well wonder whether certain pages from Via Crucis (number 12, Jesus stirbt am Kreuze, for example) aren't in fact elaborations from these. In this work, Franz Liszt is developing astoundingly modern harmonies, which draw out a naked form of Wagner's chromatisms, rarefying them: all the more so given that pianist Kalle Randalu tends to put the accent on their dryness. This is the essence of the end of Romanticism, in an absolutely hypnotic record. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released October 5, 2018 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Classical - Released January 3, 2020 | Ondine

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Violin Concertos - Released September 13, 2019 | Ondine

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Classical - Released August 9, 2019 | Ondine

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Beethoven was really following his heart when he chose to set Goethe's dramas to music. The work is a dream of a utopia of a free humanity; a dream Beethoven had already held up in his opera Fidelio and that reached its culmination in his Ninth Symphony. Written in 1788, Goethe's piece has the Count of Egmont grappling with a despotic Duke, who represents the Spanish invader in Flanders. Arrested, imprisoned and abandoned, he is condemned to death. But his martyrdom turns out to be a victory against absolutism. For Beethoven, this was a goldmine. With great enthusiasm, he sent his score to the poet... And got no response.We are indebted to Herbert von Karajan for this full version of the stage music with soprano Gundula Janowitz, recorded for the great "Édition Beethoven" to mark the bicentenary of the composer's birth in 1970. This new edition, recorded at a concert in Helsinki, is the first "historically accurate" recording, performed on period instruments. It also includes a narrator, in fact the actor, producer and Swiss-German auteur Robert Hunger-Bühler, a member of the Zurich Schauspielhaus.Revolutionary productions of Monteverdi, Handel and the operas of Koželuch have won widespread respect for the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra. Since 2011, its monthly performances have won a vast, new and enthusiastic audience. A visionary selection of repertoires and guest artists has thrilled the public to a degree never seen before with baroque music in Finland. The guest soloists and conductors include Franco Fagioli, Isabelle Faust, Reinhard Goebel, Werner Güra, Erich Höbarth, René Jacobs, Sophie Karthäuser, Julia Lezhneva, Riccardo Minasi, Enrico Onofri, Valer Sabadus, Carolyn Sampson, Skip Sempé and Dmitry Sinkovsky. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released March 8, 2019 | Ondine

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Mélodies (Northern Europe) - Released May 10, 2019 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
This programme offers an immersion into Kaija Saariaho’s magical and poetic world, with three works that were recently recorded for the very first time. The Paris-based Finnish composer is among the most prominent names on the music scene today. Born in 1952, Saariaho has successfully crafted her own musical universe, with unique colours and whispers, drawing inspiration from the great spectacle of nature as well as her own mental landscapes, imagined from her dreams, philosophy and international literature.Although they were all composed within the same era (between 2013 and 2015), these three captivating pieces offer three different perspectives on her orchestral music. Ciel d’hiver is a rearrangement for orchestra only, True Fire is a song cycle, and Trans a harp concerto. Ciel d’hiver is a transposition for small orchestra of the central movement of Orion, a triptych composed in 2002 for a giant orchestra. Inspired by Greek mythology, it joins a series of works inspired by the infinity and mystery of sky and space.True Fire was commissioned by four orchestras (Los Angeles, Hamburg, Paris [Orchestre National de France], and London [BBC]) for baritone Gerald Finley. It is a cycle of six songs written from poems of various authors. Saariaho’s goal was to explore the singer’s unique vocal range by allowing him to deploy the full scope of his expressiveness. And with Trans, the composer first and foremost explores the “depths of the instrument’s soul” − the harp − without sacrificing virtuosity. Written in three movements, this concert uses a relatively small orchestra, with a translucent writing in which the harp converses with an instrument, or an entire section. This way, the harp becomes the driving force of the music, and its main protagonist. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released October 4, 2019 | Ondine

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This second volume in a series dedicated to the orchestral works of Heino Eller by the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra under conductor Olari Elts is a ground-breaking introduction to one of the founders of the Estonian school of music. The present volume consists of Eller’s symphonic poems and contains some of Eller’s earliest symphonic works, including one of his most well-known works, Dawn (Koit). © Ondine
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Classical - Released November 1, 2019 | Ondine

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Lars Vogt continues his series of concerto recordings with the Royal Northern Sinfonia with this new recording of Johannes Brahms’ (1833–1897) First Piano Concerto together with Four Ballades (Op. 10) for solo piano. As in previous albums, Lars Vogt conducts from the keyboard. The evolution of Brahms’ 1st Piano Concerto took several steps. Originally conceived to become a Sonata for Two Pianos through orchestration it was developed into a four-movement "Symphony" until reaching into its final form of a "Piano Concerto" in three movements. During the process, which lasted from 1854 to 1856, some movements were also discarded and replaced by new material. This music is packed with much drama. No wonder since these years were particularly tumultuous in Brahms’ personal life: it was during this period when his great mentor Robert Schumann was sent into an asylum and ultimately died. It was also time when Brahms formed a close, lifelong friendship to Clara Schumann. Some of these feelings might well be echoed in the peaceful second movement, Adagio. Brahms’ Four Ballades, Op. 10 are works written in 1854 by a young composer barely in his 20s, yet these pieces are technically mature and profound in such a manner that they could even be compared to his final piano opuses. © Ondine
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Classical - Released February 8, 2019 | Ondine

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Classical - Released January 3, 2020 | Ondine

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Symphonies - Released November 9, 2018 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Exceptional Sound Recording
What a curious and charming piece of work the First Symphony by Witold Lutosławski is! Written in 1947, it is still borrowing from Stravinski, Bartók, Prokofiev and clearly Roussel, and yet it display the composer's own personal ideas, and his flawless skill in orchestration. But he had not yet made the dodecaphonic style his own, nor the principle of randomness which would be found later in 1961's Jeux vénitiens (Venetian Games). In his case, randomness refers to musicians or groups of musicians having the freedom to play their different parts when they feel like it, or when the conductor gives them a cue. But for sure, this piece's formal framework is still constrained: every performance will shed a different light on it, but it is still the same work. The album finishes with the Fourth Symphony, the composer's last, written between 1988 and 1991, performed in 1993 with Lutosławski himself conducting before his death a few months later. In this work he makes a clear return to his harmonic and melodic ideas, which at times approach Mahler or Bartók, even though the discourse remains decidedly modern. The contrast between the First Symphony, Jeux vénitiens and the Fourth Symphony could not be more spectacular, and it gives a brilliant picture of the evolution of a musical genius who embraced a wide range of influences, constantly adapting them to his own style. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released May 11, 2018 | Ondine

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It's hard not to think of Rachmaninov's Vespers when listening to this masterpiece for a capella choir by Georgy Sviridov; which is perfectly natural, some would say inevitable: Vespers dates from 1915, the year of Sviridov's birth. Sviridov's Canticles and Prayers were written between the years 1990 and 1998, when he died, leaving the work incomplete – but this impressive quantity of musical material surely represents the majority of the planned opus. In it, we hear the same borrowings from Orthodox liturgy, a rich harmony – perhaps so rich as to be even closer to the original liturgy – as when Rachmaninov unfurled an extravagant harmonic carpet which was all his own, in spite of his relative lack of religious feeling. Sviridov saw his work as a part of the tradition of Russian religious song, and his pieces could quite easily form a part of religious services – if he finds choirs which are capable of mastering the extremely difficult score. That's where the Latvian Radio Choir steps in, and with great talent. The parts which are heavier on soloists are given over to voices which are closer to what we might hear at an Orthodox service: that is, quite a long way from the power and volume of lyrical voices which would, to be sure, be completely out of place in this repertoire. © SM/Qobuz
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Concertos for wind instruments - Released April 12, 2019 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Keyboard Concertos - Released March 2, 2018 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
This is the final volume in a Beethoven concerto cycle by German pianist Lars Vogt that has been generally acclaimed for its freshness and detail. Vogt both plays and conducts the Royal Northern Sinfonia, of which he is music director, and the result has been interpretations in which pianist and orchestra achieve an unusual kind of sync. The results are spectacular in the Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58, where Vogt eases into each movement, as it were, letting details accrete and add power. Sample the final movement, where the orchestra begins at a very low dynamic level, and Vogt weaves piano and orchestra together convincingly as the music proceeds. The first two movements open in circumspect ways but, as they develop, reveal Beethoven the virtuoso as Viennese audiences must have experienced him; note especially the curious clipped treatment of the second movement's orchestral theme, so different from the stomping giant favored by most conductors. The final diminished fifth comes out in sharp, chilling relief here. Vogt's approach is a bit less successful in the early Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19, where the syncopations ring and rock, but the basic Mozartian shapes of the themes are indistinct. Nevertheless, Vogt's Beethoven recordings are major statements, and this album is no exception.
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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released November 1, 2019 | Ondine

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Composer Juris Karlsons (b. 1948) is one of the leading names in Latvian music today. This new album by the Latvian Radio Choir under their music director Sigvards Kļava features Karlsons’ choral works. These works are marked by deeply religious feeling and profound message. Oremus is choral piece written by the composer in 2018 for the Latvian Radio Choir. It was premiered as part of the Lincoln Center White Light Festivals. When writing this work, no doubt Karlsons had specifically the sound and vocal abilities of the choir in mind. The largest work of the album is Adoratio (2010), a symphonic, single-movement work for choir and orchestra with a duration of over thirty minutes. Yet, this powerful work filled with drama can, like a symphony, be clearly divided into musical sections. Le lagrime dell’anima (2013) for piano and choir is based on a short poem written by the composer: “Here are just seven simple notes that are born on a beautiful summer evening when watching the sunset. The stars slowly light up, one, then another. You wait for the next one. The seven sounds of stars are gradually born under the pianist’s fingers, somewhere in the silence they appear in the chorus’s intonations, and finally intertwined in a melodic line” the composer describes. The final piece of the album, Ora pro nobis (2019), is a tribute to Virgin Mary based on an earlier work and written for Sigvards Kļava. © Ondine
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Classical - Released January 1, 2007 | Ondine

Pairing Camille Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3 in C minor, "Organ," and Francis Poulenc's Concerto for organ, strings, and timpani in G minor is common enough in practice, but the growing popularity of Samuel Barber's Toccata Festiva for organ and orchestra, Op. 36, may signal a change from the usual way of programming these works. The arrangement on this splendid release from Ondine seems ideal, starting with the Barber work, which provides a rousing opening, and then continuing on to Poulenc's darkly scored, brooding concerto and Saint-Saëns' brilliantly scored symphony. Christoph Eschenbach led the Philadelphia Orchestra in these exciting performances at Verizon Hall in May 2006 before a live audience, and Olivier Latry, organist of Notre Dame de Paris, played the 100-stop Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ with admirable skill and subtlety. Because this SACD offers impressive 5.0 surround sound and presents the organ and orchestra with sensational timbres and finely shaded dynamics, it's tempting to think that the greatest attention was paid to making this album a showcase for audio buffs; however, the clarity of tone and sensitivity of expression that come from Latry, Eschenbach, and the Philadelphians demonstrate a strong commitment to the music that belies a purely technical approach and it's hard to imagine how these excellent interpretations could ever be surpassed in technique or feeling. Highly recommended.