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British Classical Selections

Johannes Moser

Classical - To be released April 22, 2022 | PentaTone

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Primavera II: The Rabbits

Matt Haimovitz

Classical - To be released February 4, 2022 | PentaTone

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Handel: Apollo e Dafne, HWV 122 & Armida abbandonata, HWV 105

Il Pomo D'oro

Classical - To be released February 4, 2022 | PentaTone

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How Do I Find You

Sasha Cooke

Classical - To be released January 28, 2022 | PentaTone

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Mozart: Violin Concertos

Arabella Steinbacher

Classical - To be released January 21, 2022 | PentaTone

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Bellido: Violin Concerto "Aurora" & Symphony No. 2 "Ad Astra" (Live)

Houston Symphony Orchestra

Classical - Released January 14, 2022 | PentaTone

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Through hardship to the stars. Violinist Leticia Moreno, the Houston Symphony and its Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada present two world premiere recordings of works by composer Jimmy López Bellido. Aurora, for Solo Violin and Orchestra, and Symphony No. 2, "Ad Astra" share a fascination for the stars. While Aurora is inspired by López Bellido’s years in Finland, and particularly the privilege to witness northern lights, Ad Astra is an homage to humanity’s spirit of exploration, and dedicated to the people of NASA, whose bravery and vision continue to inspire humanity’s most ambitious dreams. López Bellido’s symphony adds a new dimension to the notion of per aspera ad astra (“through hardship to the stars”), which has been one of the central narratives of symphonic composition since Beethoven’s days. © Pentatone
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Glass: String Quartet No. 3 "Mishima" (Arr. P. Kuusisto for Chamber Orchestra)

Pekka Kuusisto

Classical - Released January 7, 2022 | PentaTone

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Gershwin: Famous Pieces

Vesko Eschkenazy

Classical - Released December 3, 2021 | PentaTone

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Brahms: Famous Pieces

Arabella Steinbacher

Classical - Released December 3, 2021 | PentaTone

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Maria & Maddalena

Francesca Aspromonte

Classical - Released November 19, 2021 | PentaTone

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What a line-up. Baroque and classical repertoire specialist, soprano Francesca Aspromonte, on her second album as an exclusive Pentatone artist, supported by Diego Fasolis with his vivacious early music ensemble I Barocchisti, plus a guest turn from violinist Boris Begelman, fresh from his own zinging “Le nuove vie” Vivaldi concerto programme for naïve classique. In short, “Maria & Maddalena” should be great, and indeed it is. An exploration of the Two Marys – the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene – Aspromonte’s carefully compiled programme explores all emotional facets of these two strong women who traditionally have been cast as feminine opposites, drawing on oratorios written in the years around 1700 by Lilier, Bononcini, Leopoldo I d’Asburgo, Caldara, Perti, Handel and Scarlatti. So it’s by no means all well-trodden recorded territory here, and all the more so when it’s heard partly via new editions. Lulier’s ”Di quei lampi che vanta l'aurora” makes for an impactful start, too. First, for the crisply articulated, lively urgency from I Barocchisti. Then, for the polished, dramatic potency from Aspromonte herself. And her voice, if we needed reminding, is both distinctive and to die for: achingly clear-toned, darkly fruity in the lower registers, retaining a gorgeous depth and strength along with its sweetness up high, and everything dispatched with supple fluidity. Begelman’s own top moments meanwhile include the sweet-voiced sensuousness with which he opens Lulier’s lilting ”Tu dormi o Figlio” and then entwines with Aspromonte’s lines. Begelman’s aren’t the only ear-pricking instrumental solos, either. One of “Maria & Maddalena”’s most colouristically ear-pricking numbers is Caldara’s ”Omai spezza quel nodo”, in which Aspromonte duets with a wonderfully woodily tactile-sounding viol, organ adding further complimentary colour. Indeed this album’s instrumental performances are as much of a draw as its vocal ones, meaning that it’s good news indeed that Fasolis and his band also have their moments to shine entirely alone. Which they do superbly, both in the sighing harmonic suspensions of Bononcini’s Sinfonia from La conversione di Maddalena, and through the combination of regal, brass-rich punch and twinkle-toed strings and woodwind delicacy with which they later sock out the overture to Handel’s La resurrezione; and Aspromonte’s ensuing La resurrezione aria, ”Se Maria dunque spera”, is one of her own knockout moments for the fluid agility and ringing perfection of tone with which she dispatches her exposed – only a single violin for company – leaping vocal lines. Then just when you think it couldn’t get any better, along comes the programme’s climax of the ravishing, dramatically charged, ”Stesa à piè del tronco amaro” from Alessandro Scarlatti’s La Santissima Annunziata, where the range of expression, articulation, timbre and shading across its almost-nine minutes of contrasting sections remains enthralling from first note to last. Thoughtfully programmed, characterfully and compellingly performed, this is a gem of a recital. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Puccini: Madama Butterfly, SC 74

Melody Moore

Opera - Released November 19, 2021 | PentaTone

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Japanese tragedy with symphonic qualities. After having recorded La Fanciulla del West, conductor Lawrence Foster now expands his Puccini discography on Pentatone with Madama Butterfly, together with the Coro & Orquestra Gulbenkian, as well as Elisabeth Kulman (Suzuki), Stefano Secco (Pinkerton), Lester Lynch (Sharpless) and Melody Moore (Cio-Cio-San) in the title role. Despite its disastrous premiere, Madama Butterfly has become one of Puccini’s most successful and popular operas. While the Japanese ambience usually captures the attention, the original dramatic conception and exceptional symphonic qualities of the work are often overlooked. Lawrence Foster’s interpretation brings out the symphonic character of the opera, while Melody Moore’s charismatic interpretation of the title role fully realizes the work’s tragic and dramatic potential. © Pentatone
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Harmattan

Klein

Classical - Released November 19, 2021 | PentaTone

Soundtrack of epic revolt. Avant-garde British composer and multi-disciplinary artist Klein presents her first Pentatone album "Harmattan", described by Fred Moten as “a soundtrack of epic revolt against beginnings and ends”, which expands our notions of what classical music means today. "Harmattan" is a personal journey from childhood to now, titled after the West African season. Starting with jazz-inspired piano improvisations, the album gradually gains in ambient breadth, transforming classical musical inspirations into Klein’s unique sound universe. © Pentatone
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Debussy & Schoenberg: Pelléas & Mélisande

Orchestre De La Suisse Romande

Classical - Released November 12, 2021 | PentaTone

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Pelléas et Mélisande in a new light. This new OSR recording presents the two most ambitious musical responses to Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1893 epoch-making play Pelléas et Mélisande. Conductor Jonathan Nott has created a new suite of Debussy’s opera, which is much more extensive, and focuses more on the actual drama and symphonic development than existing suites that rely heavily on Debussy’s interludes. Schoenberg’s Pelleas und Melisande is often perceived as relatively “amorphous”, its narrative structure obscure, leaving concealed all but the most explicit references to the drama on which Schoenberg based it. In this recording, Jonathan Nott introduces a novel track division and analytical track titles that make the music’s relation to the story much more tangible to the listener. Programming it next to the music of Debussy’s opera allows us to compare both works, and to see how the most important innovators of turn-of-the-century music responded to this haunting, Symbolist story. The arrangement of Debussy’s music on this recording is the work of Jonathan Nott. © Pentatone
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Liszt: Harmonies poétiques et religieuses III, S. 173

Saskia Giorgini

Classical - Released November 12, 2021 | PentaTone

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Introspective music of ravishing beauty. After two song albums together with Ian Bostridge, pianist Saskia Giorgini presents Franz Liszt’s Harmonies poétiques et religieuses. Liszt is often seen as a showman, but much of his music reveals his introspective, searching nature. This is demonstrated above all in Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, one of his most ambitious, contemplative and enigmatic compositions, inspired by Lamartine’s eponymous poetry, Liszt’s Roman Catholic faith as well as the 1848-1849 revolutions. To Giorgini, “this music is deeply humane and sincere, tender, but also full of the most sorrowful, violent, painful moments that Liszt ever put into music”. Its ten movements constitute a quest for the deeper meaning of human existence, clothed in music of ravishing beauty. Saskia Giorgini is one of the most promising pianists of her generation, who has won several competitions and is hailed for her technical command and the beauty and poetry of her sound. © Pentatone
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Time Traveler's Suite

Inon Barnatan

Classical - Released November 5, 2021 | PentaTone

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Have you never had the opportunity to hear Inon Barnatan play? Then throw yourself into this stunning recital by the Israeli-American pianist released on Pentatone, which should really be viewed as more of a musical journey, with surprises, thrills, and heart-stopping moments of emotion. At the end of the programme we are treated to a complete performance of the Variations on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24 by Johannes Brahms. Inon Barnatan attempts to explore the influence of the masters of the first half of the eighteenth century on later musical creation, first of all looking at Brahms, who was a great admirer of his Baroque predecessors, to the point of actively contributing to Friedrich Chrysander's edition of Couperin's Pièces de clavecin. Maurice Ravel (with the Rigaudon from the Tombeau de Couperin) and Samuel Barber (with the Fuga from the Piano Sonata) as well as Ligeti (with two excerpts from the Musica Ricercata) are also addressed here, broadening out the perspective. Eras blend into one another; modernity is no longer defined as a single time period; aesthetics, whether contemporary or distant, are brought inexorably together. A striking and unexpected link is found, for example, between Ligeti's Capriccioso and Barber's Fugue, the first crowning achievement of an absolutely spellbinding recording. Similarly, the trinity of Rameau (Courante from the Suite in A minor) – Couperin (L'Atalante, from Order XII) – Ravel (Rigaudon) forms a great and clear arc!In short, this truly is a journey, and certainly a great concert programme. The performer is clearly the most exciting element here, with his irresistible elegance and astonishing panache. Inon Barnatan's playing enjoys a rare plenitude; both hands sound balanced, allowing him to translate the polyphonic games of the Baroque masters such as Barber or Ligeti. His way with the keyboard is striking; his sense of attack transfigures the beautiful Blanca Variations by Thomas Adès and allows him to create an authentic expression of the nostalgic phrase of the central part of Ravel's Rigaudon. Here is a musician who can really master those subtle harmonic balances imagined by the composer! Barber's Fuga also boasts its share of surprises, with 'polyrhythmic' motifs and mischievous harmonic tricks on the left hand such as perhaps no interpreter has ever been able to pull off, giving Barber a hint of the Ginastera here.After nine tracks, all of which are exciting for different reasons, there comes the major work: Variations on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24 by Johannes Brahms. Barnatan proves fantastic here: in the diversity of his characters; in the fluidity of his interpretation; in the meticulous care he takes of all the voices of the polyphony; in the suppleness of his wrist, which is as powerful as it is vivacious and tender. The beauty of this performance (Var. 9) is astounding. This record confirms that Inon Barnatan is one of the most important pianists of his generation. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Satie: Works (Arr. for Guitar)

Sean Shibe

Classical - Released October 22, 2021 | PentaTone

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Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 38 & 39

NDR Radiophilharmonie

Classical - Released October 22, 2021 | PentaTone

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Expansive symphonies played with energy and urgency : the NDR Philharmonie and Andrew Manze continue their exploration of Mozart’s late orchestral works with a recording of the composer's Symphony No. 38 and Symphony No. 39. Nicknamed after Prague, where it was first performed in 1787, the No. 38 shares with its successor a solemn, “Romantic” slow introduction to the first movement, followed by lighter music that shares a kinship with the playful arias and ensembles of Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni, composed in the same period. With all repeats, Manze underlines the ambitious, expansive character of these works, but the NDR Radiophilharmonie never drags, offering the same energy and sense of urgency as in their interpretation of Mozart’s No. 40 and Symphony No. 41 (2019). © Pentatone
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Handel's Unsung Heroes

La Nuova Musica

Classical - Released October 15, 2021 | PentaTone

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Instrumentalists put centre stage : after their acclaimed recording of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, La Nuova Musica and David Bates propose this project, "Handel’s Unsung Heroes", in which the instrumentalists of Handel’s operas are put centre stage. Traditionally restricted to an “invisible” existence in the orchestra pit, La Nuova Musica’s obbligato instrumentalists – violinist Thomas Gould, oboist Leo Duarte and bassoonist Joe Qiu – are now in the limelight. They will stand as equal partners alongside a world-class line up of soloists – soprano Lucy Crowe, mezzo-soprano Christine Rice and countertenor Iestyn Davies – showing how Handel wrote music as virtuosic and lyrical for his unsung heroes as for their singing counterparts. The album includes arias from Handel's masterpieces such as Rinaldo, Giulio Cesare, Agrippina and Ariodante. © Pentatone
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Remembering Russia

Jesus Rodolfo

Chamber Music - Released October 8, 2021 | PentaTone

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Viola songs on love in the face of death and uncertainty. Violist Jesus Rodolfo makes his PENTATONE debut, accompanied by pianist Min Young Kang, with an album showcasing three iconic 20th-century Russian composers who all left their homeland: Prokofiev, Rachmaninov and Stravinsky. Rodolfo presents selections of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and Rachmaninov’s Cello Sonata in G Minor in arrangements by Vadim Borisovsky, while Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne can be heard in his own transcription for viola and piano. The pieces performed revolve around love, decency, hope and optimism prevailing against mortality, mistrust, injustice and uncertainty. Within the context of a world slowly respiring from a severe pandemic, this has become a recording about the importance of the perseverance of hope, determination and love in the face of death and uncertainty. © Pentatone
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Mozart: Works for Violin & Orchestra

Arabella Steinbacher

Classical - Released October 1, 2021 | PentaTone

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Arabella Steinbacher completes her Mozart cycle. After having recorded Mozart’s last three violin concertos in 2014, Arabella Steinbacher, the Festival Strings Lucerne and its leader Daniel Dodds now complete the cycle by presenting Mozart’s less well-known, but equally enchanting Violin Concertos No. 1 & No. 2, together with his Adagio in E Major and Rondos in C Major and in B-flat Major. Steinbacher plays the cadenzas by Wolfgang Schneiderhan, who co-founded the Festival Strings Lucerne in 1956. Another exciting aspect of this album is that she plays for the first time on the „Ex Benno Walter“ Strad from 1718. © Pentatone

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PentaTone in the magazine
  • Pentatone
    Pentatone 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of classical label Pentatone. From humble beginnings to being awarded ‘Label of the Year,’ let’s take a deep dive into the history of this now staple label.