Carolyn Sampson

Soprano

Carolyn Sampson

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Poulenc: Stabat mater

Poulenc: Stabat mater


Poulenc:

Stabat mater

Sept Répons des Tenèbres


Poulenc’s 'Stabat Mater', which he described as a ‘requiem without despair’, was written in 1950 following the death of Christian Bérard who designed the sets for Cocteau’s films and plays and was a leading figure of 1940s Paris. This masterly work, dedicated to the Virgin of Rocamadour, gives pride of place to the chorus and clearly shows its line of descent from the French grands motets. On completing it, Poulenc wrote to Pierre Bernac: "It’s good, because it’s completely authentic".

From the time of his pilgrimage to Rocamadour in 1936, Poulenc's religious output was filtered through his Catholic interpretation of the world and his personal trajectory. The 'Stabat Mater' is no exception to this rule, in that it associates the events and circumstances of his own life with the drama of the Gospels. It identifies the three figures of Christ, the Virgin and the Faithful Disciple with biographical figures: Bérard, Poulenc, and the latter’s lover Lucien Roubert, whom he was to refer to as ‘the secret’ of the 'Stabat Mater' and 'Dialogues des Carmélites'.

In December 1959 Leonard Bernstein commissioned a new work from Poulenc for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He chose to write the 'Sept Répons des Ténèbres' (Seven Tenebrae Responses) for treble soloist, a chorus of boys’ and men’s voices and symphony orchestra. The posthumous first performance took place on 11 April 1963 at Philharmonic Hall (now Avery Fisher Hall) under the direction of Thomas Schippers. Poulenc had insisted on these all-male vocal forces, but, 50 years after his death, it is important to allow for more widespread performance of this fascinating score which has too long languished in the shadows.

“The word 'powerful' is not one we naturally associate with Poulenc...Still, these are vivid and, yes, powerful performances.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2014 ****

“Carolyn Sampson is a wonderful soloist and the combined choirs, which number just short of fifty singers, perform Poulenc’s varied and demanding music expertly...The splendid performances on this disc make the best possible case for Poulenc’s sacred music.” MusicWeb International, 9th April 2014

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Harmonia Mundi - HMC902149

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Your Tuneful Voice: Handel Oratorio Arias

Your Tuneful Voice: Handel Oratorio Arias


Handel:

Belshazzar: Oh sacred oracles of truth

The Triumph of Time and Truth: Mortals think that Time is sleeping

Esther: Tune your harps to cheerful strains

Alexander Balus: Mighty love now calls to arms

Jephtha: Overture

Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne HWV74 'Eternal source of light divine'

Solomon: Welcome as the dawn of day

Carolyn Sampson (soprano)

Your tuneful voice (from Semele)

The Choice of Hercules: Yet can I hear that dulcet lay

Jephtha: Up the dreadful steep ascending

Samson - Overture

Israel in Egypt: Thou shalt bring them in

Esther: Who calls my parting soul

Carolyn Sampson (soprano)

The Triumph of Time and Truth: On the valleys, dark and cheerless

Esther: How can I stay, when love invites?


Acclaimed countertenor Iestyn Davies and The King’s Consort perform an outstanding programme of Handel arias from some of the composer’s finest oratorios.

Eleven varied solo arias include ‘O sacred oracles of truth’, the delicate ‘Tune your harps’, ‘Eternal source of light’ (with supreme trumpet playing from Crispian Steele-Perkins), the melodious ‘Your tuneful voice’ and the virtuoso ‘Mighty love now calls to arm’, as well as rarities including ‘On the valleys, dark and cheerless’ and an especial jewel, ‘Mortals think that Time is sleeping’.

Iestyn is joined in two glorious duets by soprano Carolyn Sampson, including the ecstatic ‘Welcome as the dawn of day’ and the ghostly ‘Who calls my parting soul from death’.

Recorded in the well-nigh perfect acoustic of Menuhin Hall with a large and colourful orchestra, who also contribute two splendid overtures.

36 page booklet with authoritative liner note (in three languages) by renowned Handel scholar Prof. Donald Burrows, together with full texts, and 16 photos from the recordings.

“Davies's quick coloratura is dazzling in the final aria, 'How can I stay when love invites?'” Gramophone Magazine, March 2014

“Davies's phrasing is to be admired, spanning as it does long lines of breath control.” International Record Review, March 2014

“a first class anthology of Handel arias. The singing of Iestyn Davies is a delight from start to finish and he receives ideal support from Robert King and his players.” MusicWeb International, 12th February 2014

“[the slow arias] allow us to appreciate Davies's extraordinary evenness of tone, his immaculate breath control and the rapt subtlety of his phrasing...the handful of virtuoso arias are delivered with terrific panache and a bravura technique that is second to none. The King's Consort under Robert King are dark-toned and admirably sensual throughout.” The Guardian, 13th February 2014 ****

“Iestyn Davies brings a grace and calm entirely appropriate to these Handel arias...Throughout, Davies’ control is remarkable.” The Independent, 8th February 2014 ****

“he cherishes the words while negotiating the technical hurdles with amazing fluency and consistency of timbre...Davies’s definition of the varying moods in these arias is of an absorbing order, matched as it also is by the King’s Consort’s judicious range of colour in the orchestral accompaniments on a disc that highlights a countertenor voice in its prime.” The Telegraph, 6th February 2014 ****

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Hommage à Trois

Hommage à Trois


Cimarosa:

Il maestro di cappella: excerpts

Haydn:

Chi nel cammin d'onore (L'Isola disabitata)

Il pensier sta negli aggotti (L'Anima del Filosofo - Orfeo ed Euridice)

Teco lo guida al campo (Armida)

Gia la morte in mante nero (from La vera costanza)

Non sparate... mi disdico... (La Vera Costanza)

Mozart:

Crudel! perché finora farmi languir così? (from Le nozze di Figaro)

Hai gia vinta la causa! (from Le nozze di Figaro)

Fin ch'han dal vino (from Don Giovanni)

Deh! vieni alla finestra (from Don Giovanni)

Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo (from Così fan tutte)

Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen (from Die Zauberflöte)

Pa-pa-pa-pa-Papagena (from Die Zauberflöte)


William Berger (baritone), Carolyn Sampson (soprano)

Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Nicholas McGegan

Described by Gramophone Magazine as ‘one of the best of our younger baritones’ William Berger makes his Linn debut with a programme of arias from some of the finest operatic composers.

Soprano Carolyn Sampson guest stars on several duets whilst the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, which has won several awards for its performances of Mozart, provides sterling support throughout.

Following a 2012 performance by Berger, the SCO and McGegan, The Herald commented that Cimarosa’s 1792 cantata Il Maestro di Capello woud be ‘a highlight of [the] upcoming Linn disc this team is making.’

The programme encompasses arias from all of Haydn and Mozart’s best-loved operas; Berger’s stage portrayal of Papageno was praised by The Arts Desk: ‘Berger is also a deft, musicianly baritone, and a communicator who has the audience eating out of his hand.’

Berger’s debut album was chosen by Guardian critics as one of the ‘Best Classical Albums of 2012’ and by David Mellor as his ‘Album of the Week’ on Classic FM.

William Berger’s warm, rich baritone and charismatic stage presence have been winning praise from audiences and critics alike. With his intelligent approach to characterisation and thrilling interpretations, he’s a rising young star on both the concert and operatic stage.

A specialist in 17th and 18th century repertoire, William has performed all of the major Mozartian baritone roles as well as a wide selection of roles by Monteverdi, Handel, Haydn, Puccini, Janáček and Weill.

In concert, William has performed at the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, Sadler’s Wells and Birmingham Symphony Hall with orchestras and ensembles including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and English Consort.

Carolyn Sampson has sung many roles for English National Opera and for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and has appeared with Opéra de Paris, Opéra de Lille and at the Boston Early Music Festival.

Described as ‘an expert in 18th-century style’ (The New Yorker) Nicholas McGegan is the Grammy nominated director of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra; he is active in opera as well as the concert hall and has given several premiere performances of collaborations with choreographer Mark Morris.

“The Scottish Chamber Orchestra's characterful accompaniments under Nicholas McGegan's expert baton prove adventurous at every turn. Berger's agile, lyrical high baritone is also impressive, with top notes almost tenorially easy.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2013 ***

“Berger immediately sets out his stall in the opening aria frm Haydn's L'isola disabitata, singing with firm, mellow tone, bright, ringing top notes and a care for evenness of line...a beautifully recorded recital that enhances the young baritone's credentials as a fine Classical stylist.” Gramophone Magazine

“ It's a discreetly sexy disc, engagingly witty and stylish, and, for the most part, cleverly put together...Haydn's wide-ranging arias show off Berger's coloratura and the beauty of his upper registers to perfection.” The Guardian, 9th January 2014 ****

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Couperin: Trois Leçons de Ténèbres

Couperin: Trois Leçons de Ténèbres


Couperin, F:

Trois Leçons de Ténèbres

Motet pour le jour de Pâques

Magnificat

Marais, M:

Tombeau pour Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe

Susanne Heinrich (viol)

Chaconne in A major

Susanne Heinrich (viol)

Sainte Colombe the younger:

Prelude in E minor

Susanne Heinrich (viol)


Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Marianne Beate Kielland (mezzo), Lynda Sayce (theorbo), Robert King (chamber organ)

King's Consort, Robert King

Ravishing second release on The King’s Consort’s new classical label, VIVAT, features world-renowned British soprano Carolyn Sampson and outstanding Norwegian mezzo Marianne Beate Kielland in entrancingly evocative French Baroque music.

Couperin’s three “Leçons” for Holy Week are vividly atmospheric, highly coloured, richly dissonant, and deeply melancholy, presenting music of an intensity that is quiet unique in Baroque sacred repertoire. The third Leçon is an especial jewel, with gloriously intertwining vocal lines.

Alongside the three extraordinary “Leçons” come two further substantial vocal duets by Couperin: a joyous Easter motet and a fine setting of the Magnificat.

Full-length 79’40” disc also includes stunning solo instrumental tracks, with Gramophone award-winning viol player Susanne Heinrich performing music by Marin Marais and Monsieur de Ste-Colombe (composers featured in the film “Tous les Matins du Monde”).

Recorded at “low” French baroque pitch, A=392, giving unparalleled richness to the vocal and instrumental sonorities.

High quality documentation, first-rate engineering.

“The King’s Consort are set to re-enter the recording catalogue” (Gramophone)

“The two singers complement each other beautifully in the final setting, Kielland's reedy voice, with its somewhat androgynous quality, throwing Sampson's crystalline soprano into high relief and adding a slight edginess that prevents the performances from becoming too saccharine.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2013 *****

“[Sampson and Kielland] deliver fresh performances that are at once serious, stylish and beautifully judged...Well worth acquiring.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2013

“the delightful purity and seeming weightlessness of Sampson's voice, at times soaring ethereally in delicate melismas, is perfectly complemented by the warmer character of the Norwegian mezzo-soprano...The instrumental support for the Lecons is discreet, a model of refined restraint...King's own notes are packed with priceless information and valuable insight.” International Record Review, May 2013

“There is something about the atmosphere of Robert King’s Ténèbres which makes it more believable than many, and this is a recording which will take you on a very long journey indeed...The King’s Consort musicians create the ideal atmosphere for Couperin’s Lamentations, and both vocal soloists are highly effective and deeply expressive.” MusicWeb International, 2nd July 2013

“Robert King has always been able to assemble the right people for the right job...he combines the contrasting timbres of Carolyn Sampson (soprano) and Marianne Beate Kielland (mezzo) in sumptuous performances of three works by Couperin. Sampson’s brightness and Kielland’s riper tones beautifully complement each other.” Sunday Times, 10th March 2013

“Another hit for the King Consort's new label Vivat. The gorgeous Trois leçons de ténèbres...are remarkable for their intertwining, sensual dissonances: here the idiomatic (though not vibrato-free) voices of soprano Carolyn Sampson and mezzo Marianne Beate Kielland are recorded quite close, so the detail tells...the eloquent centrepiece is the third lesson for them both, absolutely spine-tingling in its intensity.” The Observer, 7th April 2013

“Carolyn Sampson and Marianne Beate Kielland [find] liquid lyricism for the vocal arabesques that Couperin weaves around the introductory letters of the Hebrew alphabet...A disc that brings to life a body of music that fully merits the expressive finesse these performers bring to it.” The Telegraph, 29th March 2013 ****

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Bach, J S: St John Passion, BWV245

Bach, J S: St John Passion, BWV245


‘Layton has directed this annual St John Passion for several seasons now. His readings, which are becoming ever more dramatic and daring, have a raw intensity. It was easy to see why these concerts have become one of the highlights in London’s musical calendar’ (The Guardian)

Polyphony and Stephen Layton present their celebrated performance of Bach’s most dramatic masterpiece. Accompanied by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and a starry team of soloists, Layton directs a vivid account, the excitement of the narrative drama contrasting with heartbreaking moments of reflection.

In Ian Bostridge, we have the most iconic Evangelist of the last twenty years; an artist who is an incomparable communicator, a singer of technical brilliance, and an impassioned, experienced interpreter of Bach’s music.

“[Bostridge is] a magnificent Evangelist though one aspect of his approach may not be to all tastes. He is highly expressive at all times and there are several occasions where some may feel he overdoes the expressiveness..Polyphony show vividly just what can be achieved in Bach singing by a fairly small professional choir, especially in terms of such things as flexibility, attack and agility...This desirable new recording deserves a place in the front rank.” MusicWeb International, February 2013

“Layton has honed his preferred version, but only aficionados will notice or mind. Concentrate instead on the purity of sound, the emotionally expressive yet restrained performance by all and the impeccable attention to text of the soloists. Ian Bostridge (Evangelist) lives every word of the narration but never over dramatises. Countertenor Iestyn Davies's almost disembodied account of Es ist vollbracht! (It is finished!) is unforgettable.” The Observer, 3rd March 2013

“the choral singing is wonderfully pure, buoyant and transparent...Ian Bostridge’s Evangelist, mannered and occasionally stretched but full of “narrative” character, dominates Layton’s performance” Financial Times, 9th March 2013 ***

“when Bach’s goal is mellifluous comfort, as in the final chorus, Ruht wohl, Polyphony wins hands down.” The Times, 15th March 2013 ****

“this new recording's credentials border on the unassailable...Layton's pacing is compelling - there's no mistaking the gambling fever as the soldiers cast lots for Christ's garment...[Neal Davies] reserves a melting tenderness for the utterances from the cross. It's crowned by Iestyn Davies's sublime account of 'Es ist vollbracht'...Both Carolyn Sampson's arias are priceless.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2013 ****

“this St John Passion brings to the fore the traits of style and taste that are distinguished hallmarks of Layton and the forces he gathers around him...Bostridge is the tenor Evangelist, eloquent, pure of tone, fluent and strong in communicating the import of the German narrative...The choir sings with a well-rounded sound, firm accents and with diction that brings the text crisply to life” The Telegraph, 22nd March 2013 *****

“about as state-of-the-art a Bach Passion recording as you'll hear...Take as read the urgency, clarity, balance and delamatory unanimity of the chorus...Layton's reality is about cultivating the focus of each sentiment with supreme corporate executancy...Bostridge is the master story-teller who surveys all about him.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2013

“it’s remarkable simply because it’s practically perfect in every way...though [Bostridge has] been singing the Passions for over a decade he still sounds as if he’s telling this familiar story for the first time...The soloists, too, are all perfectly cast...But it’s Iestyn Davies who really takes the laurels.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 18th February 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2013

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Hyperion - CDA67901/2

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I was glad: Sacred Music by Stanford & Parry

I was glad: Sacred Music by Stanford & Parry


Parry:

Jerusalem

orch. Elgar

Blest Pair of Sirens

Te Deum (Coronation)

I was glad

version for 1911 Coronation

Stanford:

Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis in A, Op. 12

Evening Service (Magnificat & Nunc dimittis) in G major, Op. 81

Carolyn Sampson & David Wilson-Johnson

Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in B flat

Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis in C, Op. 115


The King’s Consort & Choir of The King’s Consort, Robert King

The King’s Consort celebrate their hundredth CD and the launch of their new classical label, VIVAT, with TKC’s largest recording in 15 years.

Huge period instrument orchestra gathered from fifteen nations, plus TKC’s award-winning choir, and world-class soloists including Carolyn Sampson and David Wilson-Johnson.

TKC records the glorious sacred ceremonial music of two of Britain’s greatest composers, Stanford and Parry.

First recordings on period instruments, including the four great Stanford canticle settings, heard in the composer’s lavish orchestrations (Stanford in G with radiant singing from Carolyn Sampson), Parry’s I was glad (restoring a long-missing section for the 1911 coronation), a magisterial performance of Blest pair of Sirens, the 1911 Coronation Te Deum and a stunning Jerusalem in Elgar’s vivid orchestration.

High quality documentation, first-rate engineering, lively promo video releasing Jan 2013 on YouTube and Vivat’s new website.

New editions of the four Stanford works parallel-published by Oxford University Press.

The first of a series of releases on TKC’s new VIVAT label.

“A brilliant new disc from the King’s Consort… It’s thrilling stuff” BBC Radio 3, 29th January 2013

“For the launch CD of its new label Vivat, The King’s Consort have delivered an undisputed spectacular...Suddenly, Stanford’s numerous Evening Canticles are heard to their full effect – radiant, Brahmsian exultations of faith, with unmistakable hints of Wagner witnessed in the thrill of the orchestral language...It’s a magnificent start for a potentially exciting new label.” The Scotsman, 3rd February 2013

“for me this is a simple “must have”. An excellent recording as well.” CD Review, 2nd February 2013

“it's splendid to have these recreations...clothed in their full orchestral colours with magnificent period brass...While the King's Consort Choir is not wholly cathedral-like, it's Elgar's version of Parry's Jerusalem, ending the disc in an unusually broad and eloquent performance from Robert King, that really hits home.” The Observer, 17th February 2013

“Using period instruments and a medium-sized professional choir pays huge dividends, and it’s as if layers of dirty brown varnish have been stripped away from these scores. Parry’s music emerges as the strongest, and I was glad is resplendent here...This is an impressive disc, well annotated and superbly recorded.” The Arts Desk, 23rd February 2013

“[I was glad] is given a performance in the atmosphere of a church rather than a cathedral but is no less dramatic in its vivid trumpet calls. Blest Pair of Sirens, Parry's other well-known motet, comes with biting attack.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2013

“vividly sung. The seraphic strains of Stanford in G are a welcome relief after the distinctly earthly thunder of Parry’s I Was Glad” Sunday Times, 3rd March 2013

“a revelation. In the opening Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in A by Stanford, the leanness of gut strings lends edge and urgency to the orchestral writing, which perfectly complements the punchy attack of the three dozen choral singers. There's not a trace here of Victorian self-satisfaction or stuffiness...This CD, full of incandescent, hugely committed music-making, will be an award-winner. You simply have to hear it.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2013 *****

“the composer’s own rarely-performed orchestrations blaze forth in all their glory, with an extra frisson provided by the use of instruments from the turn of the century...If you’re looking for definitive performances of the Parry or if you’ve always wanted to hear Stanford’s little gems in glorious technicolour then do give this a try!” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 28th January 2013

GGramophone Awards 2013

Finalist - Choral

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - April 2013

Vivat - VIVAT101

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Zelenka: Sacred Music

Zelenka: Sacred Music


Zelenka:

Litaniae de Venerabili Sacramento Z147

Regina coeli laetare Z134

Salve Regina, mater misericordiae Z135

Officium Defunctorum Z47: Lectiones & Invitatorium


Carolyn Sampson, Rebecca Outram (soprano), Robin Blaze (countertenor), James Gilchrist (tenor) & Michael George, Peter Harvey (bass)

Choir of the King's Consort & Kings Consort, Robert King

Czech-born Jan Dismas Zelenka was by all accounts one of Baroque music’s trickier customers—fervently religious but completely lacking in courtly graces. Combine this with a tendency to throw out the rulebook when it came to harmonic convention and it’s hardly surprising that he was underappreciated in his lifetime. Yet here is some of the most pungently exciting writing of the Baroque, as individual as that of his near-contemporary, Johann Sebastian Bach. The very opening of Zelenka’s Litaniae sets out his stall and Robert King and his eponymous Consort make the most of its startling qualities. But he is a composer to tug at the heartstrings too, nowhere more so than in the Salve regina, ravishingly sung by a young Carolyn Sampson.

“Constantly fascinating to listen to. Especially when performed as beautifully and with such evident care and affection as it is on Robert King’s new CD … Zelenka’s curious music could scarcely have better advocacy” Gramophone Magazine

“A really first-rate release” International Record Review

“Performances are sensitive and stylish in ways that we have come to expect from this group” BBC Music Magazine

“Robert King and his period forces give performances it would be hard to beat” Daily Telegraph

“Robert King with his King’s Consort and Choir directs performances both moving and exhilarating” The Guardian

“The performance is outstanding, capturing the startlingly original nature of the piece with singing and playing of such vitality and commitment” Fanfare

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Johann Schelle: Sacred Music

Johann Schelle: Sacred Music


Schelle, J:

Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele

Wohl dem, der den Herren fürchtet

Aus der Tiefen

Herr, lehre uns bedenken

Gott, sende dein Licht

Komm, Jesu, komm

Christus, der ist mein Leben

Christus ist des Gesetzes Ende

Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar


Carolyn Sampson, Rebecca Outram, Lisa Beckley, Julia Cooper (soprano), James Bowman, Robin Blaze (countertenor), Charles Daniels, James Gilchrist, Angus Smith, Matthew Vine (tenor) & Peter Harvey, Charles Pott (bass)

The King’s Consort, Robert King

Continuing the series ‘Bach’s Contemporaries’, this volume concentrates on the wonderful music of Johann Schelle—a cousin of Kuhnau (another composer featured in this series).

This immensely striking sacred music by Schelle (one of Bach’s predecessors in the post of Kantor in Leipzig’s famous Thomas Church) brings together a top-flight group of soloists and a large and colourful assembly of instrumentalists, and presents remarkable and splendidly varied music which not only stands up proudly in its own musical right, but also greatly enhances our understanding of Bach’s own sacred writing.

“The man who is gifting this superlative disc to his friends is doing them the greatest favor imaginable. It contains an absolute treasure trove whose only common denominator is the high quality throughout every one of these nine works … King’s fervent espousal of Schelle’s marvelous music is apparent in every bar of this flawless disc” Fanfare

“Anyone who has yet to investigate King’s indispensable ‘Bach’s Contemporaries’ should rectify the omission without a moment’s further ado. Start with this treasure of a disc, then investigate the Kuhnau, Knüpfer and Zelenka. By that time you’ll be ready to get down onto your knees and pray for further additions to the series” Goldberg

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JS Bach: Easter and Ascension Oratorios

JS Bach: Easter and Ascension Oratorios


Bach, J S:

Easter Oratorio BWV249

Ascension Oratorio 'Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen', BWV11


This, the second release of the highly anticipated Retrospect Ensemble series, features the Easter Oratorio, one of Bach’s best-known oratorios and a monumental work, as well as the Ascension Oratorio.

Retrospect Ensemble employs large-scale forces for this recording including four-part choir and orchestra (including timpani), and is joined by Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Iestyn Davies (countertenor), James Gilchrist (tenor) and Peter Harvey (bass).

This dynamic recording highlights the skill and brilliance of Bach's writing through the inspired story telling of its star soloists and the passion of the Ensemble.

Founded by Matthew Halls, Retrospect Ensemble takes its musicians and audiences on an exciting journey, exploring the repertoire of four centuries and embracing the practices, styles and aesthetics of former ages with renewed vigour and a fresh approach.

This is the Ensemble’s second disc and follows its critically acclaimed debut recording of ‘Purcell Ten Sonatas in Four Parts’, a Finalist at the 2009 Gramophone Awards.

Retrospect performs regularly at Wigmore Hall and Cadogan Hall, London, and has appeared at major UK festivals including the Edinburgh International Festival and Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

Matthew Halls has established himself as one of today’s leading young conductors. A former Artistic Director of The King’s Consort, he has conducted in prominent venues throughout the UK and Europe.

“With a choir of 18 and a period band of 26, this is relatively large-scale Bach, but the liturgical occasions for which both works were rearranged merit such lavishness, and the music-making is sumptuous, Halls and his trumpeters revelling in the celebratory clamour of Bach’s writing...Top-drawer Bach throughout, beautifully recorded and documented by Linn.” Sunday Times, 27th March 2011 ****

“The excellent declamation, impeccable shaping of contrapuntal lines and flawless tuning of the Retrospect choir comes to the fore in the festive opening and closing choruses; the notably clean transparency between all four parts is achieved partly by an entirely male alto section but also by Halls's astute ability to convey each strand of vocal and instrumental detail.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2011

“Get out your dancing shoes. Here’s Bach’s Easter Oratorio, pungent, brief and the most uplifting of all Easter’s musical memorials. It’s performed with expressive British soloists and superbly nuanced playing from Matthew Halls’s Retrospect Ensemble...Bach built both works out of the remains of previous pieces, but everything is transformed in glory by his genius. A disc to make your heart leap.” The Times, 9th April 2011 ****

“Oboist Alexandra Bellamy's phrasing and articulation illuminate the poetic content of the music, as does that of flautist Rachel Brown in her accompaniment of the extended soprano aria, tenderly sung by Carolyn Sampson. That contemplative tenderness is equally realised by James Gilchrist in his lyrical slumber song with recorders...these are enjoyably relaxed and unselfconscious performances.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2011 ****

“[The oratorio] for Ascension has always been popular, with its trumpet-dominated choruses and exquisite alto and soprano solos (Carolyn Sampson is outstanding here). The Easter Oratorio, with its strong narrative structure, has found less favour, but is so well done here as to quell all doubts about the libretto. Matthew Halls directs sprightly singers and accomplished players.” The Observer, 24th April 2011

“This is highly impressive playing, neat, well disciplined but exciting, and Matthew Halls drives it along at a brisk pace, bringing into this music all the life-affirming joy and optimism which is at the very heart of Easter...This is a disc to savour and enjoy, not just for the sublime music but for performances which possess an immaculate feeling for style and a wonderfully fresh and vital delivery of both words and music.” International Record Review, May 2011

GGramophone Awards 2011

Shortlisted - Baroque Vocal

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Monteverdi: L'Orfeo

Monteverdi: L'Orfeo


Ian Bostridge (Orfeo), Natalie Dessay (La Musica), Patrizia Ciofi (Euridice), Véronique Gens (Proserpina), Alice Coote (Messaggiera), Sonia Prina (Speranza), Carolyn Sampson (Ninfa), Paul Agnew (Eco/Pastore), Christopher Maltman (Apollo/Pastore), Lorenzo Regazzo (Plutone), Mario Luperi (Caronte), Pascal Bertin, Richard Burkhard (Pastori)

Le Concert d'Astrée, Emmanuelle Haïm

Recording Country: France

Recording Location: 15-22 January 2003. Eglise Notre Dame du Liban, Paris.

Mix Date: 22 Jan 2003

Executive Producer: Alain Lanceron

Producer & Editor: Daniel Zalay

Balance Engineer: Jean Chatauret (Musica Numeris)

Virgin - The Opera Series - 9482532

(CD - 2 discs)

$22.00

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

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