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Classical - Released October 4, 2019 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc Classica de l'année
Like other new virtuosi before him, Lucas Debargue has recorded his own version of a selection of 52 sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti. His affinity with the Italian composer’s particular universe was already revealed in his very first album which showcased four of his sonatas alongside Ravel (a splendid version of Gaspard de la nuit), Liszt and Chopin. The vast corpus of Scarlatti’s 555 sonatas offers an almost infinite amount of inspiration to pianists, with regard to rhythm, as well as to the colour and stylistic approach. Just as we would have expected, the original personality of the French pianist brings a breath of fresh air, sometimes radical, to this delicate music, often bordering on the peculiar. For this new recording from Sony Classical, Lucas Debargue has chosen sonatas which are not often played, and a brand-new instrument, the already legendary 280 VC from the latest generation of the famous Vienna piano-makers Bösendorfer, now entirely owned by the Japanese brand Yamaha. Debargue almost never uses the pedals and has no organological or musicological troubles, claiming to be heavily influenced by Scott Ross’ recordings which he grew up with. Thus Scarlatti’s subtle writing is highlighted with no gimmicks, benefiting from the fine acoustics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Dahlem in Berlin as well as a natural and airy sound recording. The result is a timeless and fascinating vision of this music which walks us through time. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Solo Piano - Released September 13, 2019 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Pianist Igor Levit came on the scene with an album devoted to Beethoven's late piano sonatas, works normally not undertaken until a player has had some experience. As if that were not enough, he released a three-CD set featuring Bach's Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, Op. 120, and Frederic Rzewski's The People United Will Never Be Defeated: three giant and challenging variation sets. Seemingly determined to outdo himself, he returned in 2019 with a complete set of Beethoven's sonatas. The four late ones, which made a critical splash, are included here (as played in 2013, not in new versions), and the rest follow somewhat in the pattern you might expect from the earlier album. Levit has said that he admires Artur Schnabel's Beethoven recordings from the 1930s, and indeed he has some of the same go-like-the-wind quality. His combination of fast tempi and graceful phrase shaping works well in many of the early sonatas, although in the Op. 10 set his tempos leave him little room for the marked Presto in the first movement of Op. 10, No. 3. His slow movements are a mixed bag, with the Adagio of the Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2 ("Moonlight"), lacking the evocative moods of some of the others. The first movement of the Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 ("Appassionata"), takes the forward sweep too far as the important short-short-short-long motif is reduced to decoration. Levit is never less than carefully considered in his phrasing, though, and many movements have a wonderful liveliness. Sample the joyous finale of the Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101, the first adumbration of the almost mystical quality of the late Beethoven. The late sonatas are worth revisiting, especially the masterfully clear Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major, Op. 106 ("Hammerklavier"), and the Piano Sonata No. 31 in A major, Op. 110. The collection may be brash in many ways, but it lives up to its ambitions and demands attention.
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Solo Piano - Released November 1, 2019 | Sony Classical

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Seventeen years after his first Schubert recording, Arcadi Volodos takes us on another dive into the world of Schubert with the very great and very turbulent Sonata in A Major, D.959. Less than two months before his death, Schubert wrote this penultimate sonata, the most fully-developed in terms of the scope of its final movement. In its crepuscular light, it enfolds the darkness of human solitude in Andantino in F Sharp Minor, which protests against a cheap happiness, first with resignation and then with indignation. Then, a cheering, somersaulting call to life, a most Viennese Scherzo, full of insousiance and serenity, which comes before the final and utterly simple movement, which suffers from no "longueur", however "divine"... Preferring intimacy to ostentation, Arcadi Volodos provides a style of expression which is no less captivating for its sobriety. Going from the most gently-whispered pianissimi to extreme fortissimi, his playing style adapts from moment to moment, a velvet touch that paints unique colours. His interior style of performance, its poetic depth, mixed with the classicism of his approach to the work, all add up to an utterly simple and natural Schubertian language. Returning to the very young Schubert, this inspired recital is rounded off with three rare Minuets (including the stunning D.600, which starts out sounding like an aria by Bach), sculpted with peerless grace and purity: a fitting end to a programme of such high musical quality. © GG/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 8, 2019 | Sony Classical

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Solo Piano - Released September 11, 2015 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
While Glenn Gould's 1955 debut recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations has attained legendary status, there are many devoted fans who rank the 1981 recording just as highly, even though it offers a dramatically different interpretation. This album was made shortly before the pianist's premature death at age 50, so it is significant for being his last recording; indeed, the opening measures of the Aria are carved on Gould's headstone, in final recognition of the work's importance to him, so these two recordings may be regarded as bookends to the pianist's extraordinary career. Gould's tempos are slower and more measured in the 1981 performance, and the observance of some repeats here also differs from the earlier version. On the whole, the 1981 performance is reflective and carefully considered, in contrast with the technical brilliance and impulsive energy of the first. Gould's background humming is common to both Goldbergs, and even though the technology existed at the time of this recording to remove it, Gould kept it in, for fear of losing the piano's full sound. This eccentricity may be off-putting to some listeners, but there are so many fine points in Gould's playing that it must be overlooked to appreciate the true value of his playing and his understanding of Bach, which is original by any standard. Columbia's reproduction is crisp and clear, in keeping with Gould's wishes.
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Solo Piano - Released November 29, 2019 | Sony Classical

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International stardom has made Lang Lang into an ambassador for the classical repertoire. Sony has chosen Beethoven's 250th birthday to release a compilation that was born of a live concert recorded in Vienna, a city which has seen the birth of so many of the composer's works. The collection takes in Sonata No.3 and No.23, also known as Appassionata. These scores are an imaginary battlefield pitting the writer's contending passions against one another. Beethoven, subject to a compulsive inspiration, uses his writing to guide, even contain, this irresistible force: the greatest liberty dammed up by reason, an apparent paradox which his art summarises well. But here Lang Lang gives us an almost fantastical Beethoven. The pianist has fun with a repertoire which exacerbates contrasts thanks to an immense palette of nuances and several liberties taken with the tempos. Although his level of technique permits him such extravagances, it must be said that he is much more conventional with Beethoven than he is with Rachmaninov. You don't fool around with the Master of Bonn. The record closes on a studio version of the first movement of Sonata No.17 (the famous Tempest), recorded for the video game Gran Turismo 5. The rather grandiloquent switch between its Largo and Allegro sections makes its mark on the text. Lang Lang serves up a very literally visual interpretation of this score, built around the most epic settings that these Beethovian storms permit. © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 8, 2019 | Sony Classical

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Chamber Music - Released August 17, 2018 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
What do you mean, “Six evolutions”? It’s an intriguing title, almost esoteric… The cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who needs no introduction after a worldwide career of some fifty years, pens here his third (and ultimate, according to him) recording of Bach’s Solo Cello Suites. The first, while he was in his twenties, gave rise to enthusiasm, the second—in his forties—gave rise to emotion, so what will this final vision give rise to, now that he is in his late sixties? Serenity and joy, probably, and the completion of a triple discographic evolution. That being said, we still cannot explain the “Six evolutions”, and you will have to dive into a small corner of the accompanying booklet to find an indication, giving little more information, it is true, since it comes with no clarification: 1) Nature is at play, 2) Journey toward the light, 3) Celebration, 4) Construction/Development, 5) The struggle for hope, and 6) Epiphany. Well… Whatever it be, and despite what he said—and the amazing quality of this interpretation—let’s meet in 2038 to find out if he doesn’t decide to give a new interpretation in his eighties! © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released March 15, 2019 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released November 22, 2019 | Sony Classical

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This Berio album is like a little museum dedicated to the Italian composer. Famous for his experiments with musical form which involved working quotations into his pieces, this album, Transformation, sees Berio in the role of arranger. The programme is a series of works arranged for orchestra: a motley collection that runs from Bach to the Beatles, via Falla, Boccherini, Mahler, and Brahms. In it, we hear Berio's affinity for the unfinished, and we also see his love for song, whether the singing is being done by the clarinette (wonderful autumnal colours from Daniel Ottensamer), a baritone (Benjamin Appl) or a soprano (Sophia Burgos). The juxtaposition of the works forms a connecting thread. Is it an echo of the composer's clever patchwork style of writing? In the end it's one of Bach's more fascinating scores that dominates the record. We are taken from one sonic world to the other, each re-invented in turn, expanded but not denatured. We trek across the Spain of Falla and Boccherini: we dive into Brahms and Mahler, two composers that Berio would admire for their science and orchestral sounds, and more specifically the former's clarinet sonata – which became a chamber sinfonia concertante – and the latter's youthful Lieder. Finally, we travel through time thanks to a whip-smart, virtuoso exercise in style: the arrangement of three Beatles songs in the baroque style (although the second version of Michelle tends towards a sometimes-atonal romanticism), all a marvellous fit for the outrageous Cathy Berberian, whose Beatles performances were always free and fantastical. In the pit, the Basel symphonic orchestra with Ivor Bolton conducting. What could be a more natural choice for an artist whose archives are held by the Sacher Foundation? © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Solo Piano - Released August 22, 2014 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Record of the Month - 4 étoiles Classica
Russian pianist Igor Levit, trained in Austria and Germany, gained good festival notices and a New Generation Artist nod from the BBC. For his initial recordings he has confidently chosen repertoire that is usually thought to take some life experience to master: first the late Beethoven sonatas, and here Bach's six Partitas for keyboard, BWV 825-830. The partitas receive subjective, frankly pianistic readings less often than they used to, and for Levit the recording is a gutsy move. He relies less on pedal (like the big piano names of the old days) or extreme tempos (like Gould, although a few of his scherzos and finales are unusually quick) than on articulation combined with small variation in speed to define each partita and each movement with a free and distinctive spirit. The slow movements, with feathery trills and plenty of expressive space, are exceptionally beautiful, and the entire concept is thought out in detail; when Levit takes a fixed tempo, that actually stands out and becomes the point of the movement where it occurs. This kind of Bach is clearly not for everybody, but it's both original and executed with steely perfection. Mention must also be made of Sony's tremendous sound from a Berlin radio studio, capturing Levit's work in granular detail and imparting just the right measure of intimate intensity.
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Opera - Released February 14, 2014 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 4 étoiles Classica - Hi-Res Audio
There are many splendid recordings of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro that appeal to every taste, but there are relatively few that can be categorized as historically authentic, in the truest sense of the term. Of these, the 2014 Sony release by Teodor Currentzis and Musicaeterna may be the most thoroughly researched and carefully restored version available. Taking pains to consult original sources, and to use period instruments or modern replicas (including a fortepiano, a lute, and even a hurdy-gurdy), Currentzis creates a Classical sound that works brilliantly with the score as written and as Mozart intended, and makes the music as vivid and exciting as possible. Currentzis also has called for a historical approach to singing, and embellishments that were typical of Mozart's day are employed, as well as a more intimate delivery and purer vocal style with less vibrato. The cast may not feature international stars, but the artists are well-suited to Currentzis' goals of presenting Figaro in true period practice. Prominent in this production are Andrei Bondarenko as Count Almaviva, Simone Kermes as the Countess, Fanie Antonelou as Susanna, Mary-Ellen Nesi as Cherubino, and Christian van Horn as Figaro, who give their roles distinctive characterizations along with their impeccable vocal production. Sony's recording is rich in details and close enough to the musicians to give a front-row feeling. Le nozze di Figaro is presented on three CDs in a deluxe hardcover book that includes an interview with the conductor and the complete libretto in English, Italian, German, and French.
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Classical - Released November 8, 2019 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released October 19, 2012 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - Hi-Res Audio
The Chopin Album is Lang Lang's first recording for Sony devoted entirely to the solo piano music of the Romantic master, focused on the Études, Op. 25, with three of the most popular Nocturnes and a handful of other pieces included for good measure. While Lang Lang's phenomenal popularity guarantees this CD's success, and his ability to play the technically demanding Études will impress his fans, devotees of Chopin's music may be skeptical of the pianist's interpretations, which at their best are flashy and extroverted. While it's not necessary to play Chopin close to the vest, with the expressive reticence of a wallflower, Lang Lang is no introvert, and it shows in the pieces where sensitivity and poetic refinement are desirable. He plays with his customary bravado in the loudest Études, the Grande Valse Brillante, the Grande Polonaise, and even in the inaccurately nicknamed "Minute" Waltz, but his expression at softer levels seems affectless, uninvolved, and rather uninteresting. While connoisseurs may balk at this fairly showy album, it is sure to appeal to a wide audience, perhaps most especially because of the inclusion of Lang Lang's duet with Danish singer Oh Land, "Tristesse," which is based on Chopin's Étude in E major, Op. 10/3, and taken from the soundtrack for the film The Flying Machine. Sony's sound is generally good, though Lang Lang's dynamic range is wide enough to make setting the volume a little tricky.
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Classical - Released November 15, 2019 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released May 17, 2013 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Record of the Month - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released February 1, 2013 | Sony Classical

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Solo Piano - Released April 7, 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Award - Gramophone Record of the Month - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Concertos - Released October 8, 2010 | Sony Classical

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released November 4, 2016 | Sony Classical

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