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Classical - Released October 1, 1999 | Pan Classics

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Chamber Music - Released November 19, 2001 | Pan Classics

Distinctions Recommandé par Répertoire
In a time when national affiliation was necessarily written in stone, Henricus Albicastro was a genuine multi-national. Born in Bavaria to Swiss parents, Albicastro was what was then called a dilettante, not an unfocused dabbler but a musician whose day job was in another field, and in Albicastro's case that living was made astride a horse; he was a captain of the cavalry in the Dutch Republican Army in the War of the Spanish Succession. He also served as an orchestra leader at the University of Leiden in the 1680s, and as such, he is identified as "Viennensis Musicus adcademiae" in contemporary documents, suggesting his musical education occurred in Vienna. A tendency toward the use of oddball harmonic devices and especially florid violin writing indicates possible contact with the school of Biber and Muffat, but that element is miniscule compared to the influence of Arcangelo Corelli and the Italian model. Nevertheless, there are ways in which these concerti do not behave typically; there is an emphasis on tutti writing, and solo passages are sparingly used. Pan Classics' Henrico Albicastro: 12 concerti a Quattro Op. 7 is the first opus of Albicastro recorded complete and the first substantive program of Albicastro to appear on disc since 1990. It features two combined groups, Collegium Marianum and Collegium 1704, led by harpsichordist Václav Luks and featuring violin soloist Riccardo Masahide Minasi; both ensembles hail from Prague. This recording, in fact, was made in the Rudolfinum in Prague, but in 2000; it did not come out on Pan until 2007. Seven years is a heck of a long time for anything to sit in the can, so long that since then Minasi has left Collegium 1704 and joined Il Giardino Armonico. Admittedly, it is a good, though not great recording; the combined ensembles lack cohesion. Allegros tend to be a little wilted and underpowered; slow movements fare better. However, quite a bit of Albicastro's music is highly extraordinary; witness the fall sequences in the finale of the Concerto I in F, the proto-minimalistic texture of the movement marked Tremolo, Spiccato, Adagio in the Concerto III in C, and the sweet, pop-like harmonies in the oboe-driven Adagio of Concerto IV in C minor. Therefore, there is reason to want to seek out Pan Classics' Henrico Albicastro: 12 concerti a Quattro, Op. 7, especially if Baroque instrumental music is one's bag; hopefully this won't be the last we hear from the musical Cavalier of Leiden. © TiVo
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Cantatas (secular) - Released November 19, 2001 | Pan Classics

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Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | Pan Classics

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Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | Pan Classics

The Stabat Mater of Giovanni Gualberto Brunetti is a curious animal indeed -- an adaptation of the Stabat Mater of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. The work dates from the 1760s, and what is curiouser still is that Brunetti's probable nephew, Antonio Brunetti, created a work based on but still more distant from Pergolesi's in 1825. The booklet uses the words "imitation, plagiarism, and modernization" to describe these works; the plagiarism involved is not the elder Brunetti's but that of the younger, who used his uncle's work without attribution but described his own piece as "in imitation of the estimated Mr. Pergolesi." The 1825 work, which is said to add a good deal of original music, might seem potentially more interesting to the general listener than the Giovanni Gualberto Brunetti work featured here. This "imitation" is strange in itself. It sticks very close to Pergolesi's work in the first six movements; often the music is identical. Then, from the "Vidit suum" soprano aria onward, he goes farther afield although he still uses a good deal of Pergolesi's music, quoting his melodies but breaking them up into lighter Classical-style shapes. The effect is a work that seems to fall into two parts; there is nothing in the original Pergolesi movements that would seem to suggest this kind of treatment. The performers, especially countertenor Luiz Alves da Silva, are superb, with a sweet, lyrical sound intensified by the fine sound environment of a Zurich church. The entire enterprise constitutes an interesting chapter in the reception of Pergolesi and of the Stabat Mater specifically (which influenced composers as late as Boccherini), and it seems to suggest the transplantation into Italy of one of the non-Western traditions in which music slowly evolves in the hands of subsequent interpreters rather than being remade by individual hands. It's of interest for those whose minds have a speculative cast. © TiVo
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Violin Concertos - Released March 26, 2007 | Pan Classics

Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 9 de Répertoire
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Classical - Released March 26, 2007 | Pan Classics

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Classical - Released March 26, 2007 | Pan Classics

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Classical - Released March 26, 2007 | Pan Classics

Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Catholic faith was infused with an Ignatian spirituality that inspired his conviction that liturgical music is not only an offering of worship to God, but a means of intensifying believers' religious experience, opening them to the deep significance of the texts being set. With this motivation, he employed all the resources at his disposal to draw listeners close to the experience of the biblical story being told, or to the feeling the liturgical text was intended to inspire. The result is music of intensely explicit emotional communicativeness, using extremes of expressiveness to move the listener. There is no clearer example of this than his oratorio, Le reniement de St. Pierre (The denial of St. Peter). Charpentier's music so vividly depicts the actions of the characters that a cursory knowledge of the story makes it possible to follow the unfolding events without needing to refer to the text. The concluding chorus is one of the most wrenching moments in Baroque music; even to modern sensibilities, its harmonic contortions depicting Peter's plummet into despair as he "went out and wept bitterly" remain astonishing. The other works collected here are similarly demonstrative expressions of Charpentier's skills in depicting emotional extremes. Ensemble William Byrd, conducted by Graham O'Reilly, performs with dazzling intensity. The performers clearly understand Charpentier's theological and musical intent, and while they sing and play with great tonal purity, they bring to the music an emotional rawness that's breathtaking. Pan's sound is exemplary -- clean, warm, and present. © TiVo
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Classical - Released March 26, 2007 | Pan Classics

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Classical - Released March 26, 2007 | Pan Classics

Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 10 de Répertoire
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Concertos - Released March 26, 2007 | Pan Classics

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Classical - Released March 26, 2007 | Pan Classics

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Classical - Released March 26, 2007 | Pan Classics

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Chamber Music - Released March 26, 2007 | Pan Classics

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Classical - Released March 26, 2007 | Pan Classics

Francesco Gasparini was active in Italy during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries; he served for a time at the Venetian orphanage called the Ospedale della Pietà, where he hired the young violinist Antonio Vivaldi. His music has been mostly unheard for several centuries, and this high-quality revival will be welcomed by Baroque vocal fans and those interested in Vivaldi and his world. Included are a quartet of cantatas, two for soprano and alto, and two solo cantatas, mostly with a pair of violins and continuo. Despite the plural "sonate" promised by the disc title, there is only one sonata, placed in the middle of the program as a kind of intermission. The cantatas, each consisting of a few arias separated by recitatives, all have lightly pastoral or romantic themes that aren't going to be gripping for the casual listener, but the music rests easily on the vocal cords; it is ornamented (perhaps by the performers themselves) in a flowery way without being brutally difficult. The most effective works are perhaps the two "cantate a due," for the contrast between the energetic vibrato of soprano Monique Zanetti and the more restrained tone of countertenor Pascal Bertin is attractive; Bertin in his solo cantata, Chi non sa che sia morire (Those who do not know what it means to die), lacks power. The Baroque violinists of the Italian group Fons Musicæ are exceptionally smooth, and the sprightly continuo playing of leader Yasunori Imamura lends the entire program an upbeat quality that should appeal to listeners beyond the specialists who would normally buy this disc. All texts are translated into German, French, and English. The Swiss studio sound is superb, and the packaging, curiously based on a Polish landscape painting, is handsome. © TiVo
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Chamber Music - Released May 21, 2007 | Pan Classics

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Full Operas - Released June 28, 2007 | Pan Classics

Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 10 de Classica-Répertoire - 4 étoiles Classica
Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676) was a worthy successor to Monteverdi on the Venetian musical scene, and while his operas may not sustain the level of exalted musical inspiration and psychological depth of Monteverdi's, they come close enough to fully deserve the recognition they are beginning to receive. Like Monteverdi, Cavalli was a master dramatist, and his operas bristle with theatrical energy and vivid musical characterizations. L'Ormindo (1644), the first of his operas to be rediscovered (by Raymond Leppard, who conducted it at Glyndebourne in 1967), was written just two years after L'incoronazione di Poppea, and shares some of its attributes, most notably a remarkably expressive use of recitative, intriguing characters, and a dramatically arresting intermingling of comic and serious elements. The plot, unlike Monteverdi's clear and compact narrative, involves the complexity of mistaken identities, convoluted relationships, and improbable resolutions that would come to characterize later Baroque opera. The characters, however, are emotionally believable, for the most part, and are dramatically engaging, making it easier to overlook the absurdity of the plot. L'Ormindo receives a splendid performance by the French ensemble Les Paladins, conducted by Jérôme Correas. Correas' flexibility allows the singers to deliver the recitatives with convincing naturalism, but he never lets the musical momentum sag. There's not a weak link among the large cast, all of whom negotiate the early Baroque idiom as if it were second nature, and with persuasive dramatic vigor. The singers sound like a tight comedic troupe, and their interactions have a wonderful spontaneity. Pan's acoustic is clean and resonant, with excellent, natural-sounding balance. The performance would make an excellent introduction to the neglected world of early Baroque opera, and to Cavalli's genius as a dramatic composer. © TiVo
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Classical - Released August 19, 2007 | Pan Classics