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Giaches de Wert: Divine Theatre

Giaches de Wert: Divine Theatre

Sacred Motets


Wert:

Gaudete in Domino

Hoc enim sentite in vobis

Saule, Saule

Vox in Rama

Amen, amen dico vobis

Egressus Jesus

Peccavi super numerum

O crux ave

Ascendente Jesu

Virgo Maria hodie ad coelum

Quiescat vox tua

Deus iustus, et salvans

O altitudo divitiarum


Franco-Flemish composer Giaches de Wert wrote a considerable amount of sacred music during the late Renaissance, but little of it was published during his lifetime. Only three books of motets were released in 1566 and 1581. Stile Antico's new album introduces us to another side of this composer who, though Flemish-born, spent most of his life in Italy, primarily in Mantua, where he was to remain for the rest of his life, though not without maintaining connections (both musical and, during the mid-late 1580s, romantic) with the court at Ferrara, where the lively musical life must have been a welcome distraction from his not-always-happy existence at the Mantuan court. The unique and dramatic style of these remarkable motets cannot fail to ravish explorers of this 'divine theatre'.

“This selection of motets, mostly for five or six voices, is unexpectedly rich in imagination, variety, and often sheer joyful energy, and the performances boast a high-quality technical brilliance.” Financial Times, 20th January 2017 ****

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Harmonia Mundi - HMM807620

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Johnson, C H: Considering Matthew Shepard

Johnson, C H: Considering Matthew Shepard


Conspirare, Craig Hella Johnson

Read David's exclusive interview with Craig Hella Johnson here.

Craig Hella Johnson leads Conspirare in this world premiere recording of his Passion 'Considering Matthew Shepard', his musical response to the tragic death of a young gay man who was beaten and subsequently died, and who has become an American icon and a symbol for hope and empowerment. This major new work for chorus, soloists and chamber ensemble sets a rich variety of texts by Lesléa Newman, Michael Dennis Browne, the composer himself and many others, leading us from anguish to understanding. Many Conspirare singers are featured as soloists, and the vocal group is joined by a small ensemble of strings, piano (Craig Hella Johnson), guitar, clarinet, and percussion.

“The sincerity of the composer’s response to Shepard’s life and the performers’ commitment is never in doubt. The choral singing (soloists are drawn from their rank) is excellent, committed and as engaging as one might expect.” Choir & Organ, January 2017 ****

“I’ve long admired Johnson’s work with Conspirare, both in established repertoire and relatively new work, and they give their all to this piece … their diction is impeccable throughout … Harmonia Mundi have also done themselves proud by deciding that the work was worthy of a recording. I agree with them … I found it musically, artistically and spiritually very successful, and I recommend it” MusicWeb International, October 2016

“Conspirare are absolutely wonderful in this, the quality of the voices, the solos … it’s a superb choir and they have a chameleon quality vocally, they have to inhabit so many different styles from contemporary choral through gospel, through jazz, through funk, and they’re singing as very credible soloists as well as this beautifully blended ensemble” Record Review, 11th December 2016

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Harmonia Mundi - HMU807638/39

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François Couperin: Leçons de Ténèbres

François Couperin: Leçons de Ténèbres


Brossard:

Stabat Mater

Couperin, F:

Trois Leçons de Ténèbres


Lucy Crowe (soprano) & Elizabeth Watts (sopranos)

La Nuova Musica, David Bates

François Couperin's 'Leçons de Ténèbres' (c. 1713-17), a setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, fused devotional expression with a dramatic performing style embodied here by sopranos Lucy Crowe and Elizabeth Watts. Two Trio Sonatas and a 'Stabat Mater' by Sébastien de Brossard round out this luminous programme.

La Nuova Musica was founded by its artistic director David Bates in 2007 whilst in residency at Snape Maltings and was hailed by BBC Radio 3 as “one of the most exciting consorts in the early music field”. They are regular contributors at Aldeburgh Music, St John’s Smith Square, London Handel Festival, Wigmore Hall and Spitalfields Music. Highlights of 2015 were a performance of 'Acis and Galatea' at SJSS which received a 5* review in The Times, describing it as “a reading that sparkled from the giddy overture to the consoling final chorus” followed by a concert performance of Cesti’s 'Orontea', where “Bates’ conducting had superb poise, and the cast was impeccable, with not a weak link anywhere” (The Guardian).

In 2016 LNM will also record Pergolesi's 'Stabat Mater' and Bach Cantatas with Lucy Crowe and Tim Mead. Concert performance highlights for 2016 include Handel’s 'Berenice' at the Göttingen Internationale Händel Festspiele; their debut at the Salzburg Festival with Bejun Mehta; and an exciting collaboration with American choreographer Zack Winokur on Purcell’s 'Dido and Aeneas' at the Brighton International Festival, with Dame Ann Murray singing the title role.

“Crowe here offers an intense and dramatic reading of the first Leçon … Elizabeth Watts takes centre stage in the second setting – her voice plummy and voluptuous … The two join in an impassioned and operatically-inspired performance of the final Leçon … the performing forces are expanded for Brossard’s highly-charged setting of the Stabat Mater, its grief-filled text delivered with raw and plangent expressivity.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2016 ****

“a dramatic, well-paced performance that shows Brossard’s slender if learned talent to best effect. Unlike Schneebeli, who employed boy sopranos and Old French pronunciation of the Latin texts, Bates produces a more modern, full-bodied sound, and it is the grands choeurs rather than the petits choeurs that most impress.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

“Having two soloists of the calibre of Lucy Crowe and Elizabeth Watts ensures that the vocal line positively gleams, and there is a beautifully limpid quality throughout. They are flexible yet also a little fragile, well suited to the pleading nature of the text…Brossard’s Trio Sonatas provide some earnest instrumental variety. They're beautifully played, and the thin string tone adds a plangent air to what you find in the more explicitly penitential vocal music” MusicWeb International, January 2017

“such an intelligent choice of voices…both with a lovely purity and clarity, both ornamenting effectively, with Crowe’s more tightly focussed sound contrasting very well with Watt’s more voluptuous tone and vibrato.” Record Review, 24th September 2016

“Bates directs some very fine performances here. Both instrumentalists and voices of La Nuova Musica are terrific as are the two soloists in the Trois Leçons de Tenebres, Lucy Crowe and Elizabeth Watts. The excellent SACD recording is set in a lovely acoustic with a real sense of presence and detail.” The Classical Reviewer, 26th September 2016

“Two of the UK’s finest early music voices divvy up Les Leçons de Ténèbres…Crowe is ecstatic and golden, ravishing in her upper flourishes…Watts is grainier, softer-edged, earthier. When they sing together in the third lesson, the combination is breathtaking” The Guardian, 8th September 2016

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Harmonia Mundi - HMU807659

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Lutosławski: Concerto for Orchestra

Lutosławski: Concerto for Orchestra


Brahms:

Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25

arr. Schoenberg

Lutosławski:

Concerto for Orchestra


With its use of folk melodies to generate tremendous momentum and dramatic impact, the Concerto for Orchestra (1954) established Witold Lutos?awski (1913-1994) as Poland’s leading composer and an international force in concert music.

Here it is coupled with another showpiece: Brahms’s Piano Quartet in G minor arranged for full orchestra by Arnold Schöenberg (1937).

“Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra was composed using a Bartokian model and incorporating folk music…when a doctrine of socialist realism was still in place. But Lutoslawski preserves his integrity in a piece that also points to his later stylistic traits, and in this newest version of an often-recorded work Miguel Harth-Bedoya steers a skilful line in reconciling these various elements.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2016

“Miguel Harth-Bedoya has moulded the Forth Worth SO into an impressively proficient band…the Peruvian puts his eager Texan charges through their paces in what is an eminently enjoyable, unexaggerated account with no want of commitment.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2016

“Harth-Bedoya and his players shape and phrase this music [Brahms] beautifully, bringing dynamic contrasts that re-inforce the emotional side of the music. They help this music to retain much of its original character with some very fine passages of instrumental detail laid open, often finding a brooding undercurrent … This is a wonderfully taut, beautifully shaped performance revealing Schoenberg’s wonderfully sympathetic orchestration.” The Classical Reviewer, 14th May 2016

“This new entry to the catalogue shines out with its precision, vigour and clarity of sound...Schoenberg’s orchestrations of Brahms always merit revisiting, not least because the odd alliance of these two contrasting composers is always so unexpected...A seriously interesting and worthwhile disc.” The Guardian, 27th March 2016 ****

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Harmonia Mundi - HMU807668

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Prokofiev: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 5

Prokofiev: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 5


Prokofiev:

Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16

Piano Concerto No. 5 in G major, Op. 55


2013 Cliburn Gold Medalist Vadym Kholodenko became the first-ever 'Artist in Partnership' with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra beginning in 2014-15. Under the baton of Miguel Harth-Bedoya he opens his complete cycle of Prokofiev piano concertos with the 'dark-hued but dazzling' No. 2 in G minor, coupled with the less familiar No.5 in G major.

“[Kholodenko] surmounts the Second Concerto's formidable challenges impressively, with only a hint of a rallentando at the cadenza's steepest hurdles. The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra matches his qualities with faultless and clearly articulated playing” BBC Music Magazine, May 2016 ***

“a very fine pianist; there is doubt about his virtuosity and his affinity with Prokofiev … there’s a lot of potential in this young pianist … Kholodenko is great in showing the drive of this music, the power of it, and also the different colours … he has fingers of steel.” CD Review, 20th February 2016

“This 2013 Cliburn alumnus, on adopted home ground, finds more light and shade than most in the second concerto, and the epic first movement cadenza impresses hugely … Orchestral playing is first, rate, and Harth-Bedoya accompanies with zest and power.” Classical Music, April 2016

“The luxurious and exquisitely dimensional sound reproduction, combined with hand-in-glove ensemble and scrupulous attention to detail, makes this a remarkable release, one whose disclosures multiply with repeated listening” Gramophone Magazine, March 2016

“Kholodenko seems more at home with [concerto] No 5, in a straightforward, brilliant interpretation with plenty of drive … The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra accompanies nicely throughout in a spacious acoustic” International Piano, March 2016

“Kholodenko’s technique and phrasing bring a great clarity. He is not afraid to slow down and find a mystery and poetry often ridden roughshod over by others. His approach reveals much that is often lost in more overtly virtuosic performances. He ensures that the bolder, more dynamic passages receive due weight bringing a restrained virtuosity of his own” The Classical Reviewer, 28/02/2016

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Harmonia Mundi - HMU807631

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A Wondrous Mystery

A Wondrous Mystery

Renaissance Choral Music for Christmas


Clemens:

Pastores quidnam vidistis

Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis

Eccard:

Ubers Gebirg Maria geht

Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her

Handl:

Canite tuba in Sion

Mirabile mysterium

Hassler, H L:

Hodie Christus natus est

Praetorius, H:

Magnificat quinti toni

Praetorius, M:

Puer natus in Bethlehem (Ein Kind geborn)

Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen

Michael Praetorius/Melchior Vulpius


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Stile Antico’s new Christmas programme of Renaissance polyphony features a glorious mass by the Flemish master Clemens non Papa, alongside traditional old-German carols and motets, many of them still sung to this day. An irresistibly festive collection to further celebrate Stile's 10th anniversary year!

“The sinuous yearning of Clemens's Agnus Dei is…a triumph of fluid phrasing and dynamic shaping, and a reminder of the formidable credentials of this group” BBC Music Magazine, December 2015 ****

“remarkably with “A Wondrous Mystery” Stile Antico have created a festive album that you’ll be more than happy to play any week of the year … Stile Antico delightfully evoke the spirit of the season without any of the associated clichés.” Classical Ear, 29th January 2016

“The Lutheran works are sung with sprightly and attractive energy...Stile Antico have a considered, homogeneous sound that is extremely sonically beautiful … However one prefers polyphony to be sung, there is no denying that this is sure to be a justly popular Christmas choice. It is a smooth and assured album and both the ensemble sound and the individual voices are extremely attractive.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2015

“every bit as excellent as we have come to expect from Stile Antico.” MusicWeb International, 10th December 2015

“Hieronymus Praetorius’ extensive, polychoral Magnificat with its antiphonal opportunities is enlivened by some perceptive word-painting and is memorably performed, as is everything in this desirable seasonal offering … With a well-judged, sympathetic SACD church recording and a fine booklet this can be added to the long list of recommendable offerings from Stile Antico” MusicWeb International, 30th November 2015

“as usual, Stile sing with exemplary blend, clarity and precision, all of which appear more impressive than ever in the intricacies of the Clemens Mass but also make Michael Praetorius’s little gem ‘Es ist ein Ros ensprungen’ really sparkle.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 4th December 2015

“I cannot speak too highly of this fine choir or this new release. They are beautifully recorded at All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London, UK and there are excellent notes in the nicely illustrated booklet, together with full texts and translations. A Wondrous Mystery from this Wondrous Choir. Buy, sit back and enjoy!” The Classical Reviewer, December 2015

“Clemens's gentle ‘Missa Pastores’ threads through carols and motets that include Praetorius’s setting of ‘Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen’, but there is a richness too, in Jacob Handel’s ‘Mirabile Mysterium’, which depicts the mystery of God born as man, the chromatic crunches that slip and slide in and out of reach are intoxicating.” The Independent on Sunday, 13th December 2015

“Stile Antico has produced another pure-voiced, imaginatively programmed disc.” The Observer, 13th December 2015

Presto Disc of the Week

4th December 2015

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Harmonia Mundi - HMU807575

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Alessandro Scarlatti: Con eco d'amore

Alessandro Scarlatti: Con eco d'amore


Scarlatti, A:

Figlio! Tiranno! (from La Griselda)

Se geloso è il mio core (from Endimione e Cintia)

Nacque, col Gran Messia (from Non so qual piu)

A questo nuovo affanno (from L'Eraclea)

Mentre io godo in dolce oblio (from La Santissima Vergine)

Ombre opache

Qui dove … Torbido irato e nero

Con voce festiva

O vane speme! ... Cara tomba del mio diletto (from Il Mitridate Eupatore)

Sussurrando il venticello (from Tigrane)

Ergiti, Amor, su i vanni (from Scipione nelle Spagne)

Esci ommai (from Il Mitridate Eupatore)

Dolce stimolo al tuo bel cor (from Il Mitridate Eupatore)

D’amor l’accesa face (from Venere, Amore e Ragione)

Io non son di quei campioni (from La Statira)

A battaglia, pensieri


Elizabeth Watts (soprano), Mark Bennett (trumpet), Huw Daniel (violin) & Laurence Cummings (continuo, director)

The English Concert

With a voice described as "one of the most beautiful Britain has seen in a generation" (IRR), Elizabeth Watts has established herself among the brightest talents performing today. After training as a chorister at Norwich Cathedral, Elizabeth went on to study archaeology at Sheffield University before attending the Royal College of Music in London.

Her many prizes include the 2006 Kathleen Ferrier Prize (UK), the 2007 Outstanding Young Artist Award at the Cannes MIDEM Classique Awards and the Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize at the 2007 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. A former ‘BBC New Generation Artist’, she received a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award in 2011 and this recording is supported by the Trust. Her critically praised debut recording of Schubert Lieder was followed by an equally acclaimed disc of Bach Cantatas (harmonia mundi), a programme of Richard Strauss Lieder with Roger Vignoles, and a recording of Bach’s St Matthew Passion with the Academy of Ancient Music led by Richard Egarr.

In this selection of rarely heard Alessandro [rather than Domenico] Scarlatti arias from his cantatas, oratorios and operas, she is joined by the acclaimed period instrument ensemble The English Concert led by Laurence Cummings. Elizabeth is currently recording Couperin's 'Lecons de Tenebres' with Lucy Crowe and La Nuova Musica for harmonia mundi.

“As her career has progressed, Watts hasn't lost the ability to get to the heart of an aria and peel back the layers…there's scintillating playing from The English Concert, including a dashing obbilgato solo by violinist Huw Daniel in 'Esci omai'.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2015

“it’s amazing, tightrope walking stuff there; the fact that she can control her vibrato and actually distinguish between a trill and that vibrato and some of those high notes; the sheer tone quality is astonishing, and the way she’s managing to blend with the trumpet; this is a contest without an obvious winner, and that’s very much in the recording’s favour.” CD Review, 12th December 2015

“Trumpeter Mark Bennett joins the singer occasionally, most effectively in the martial A battaglia, where soprano and brass battle it out for the virtuoso honours, while violinist Huw Daniel also vies for attention in an extended sequence from the serious opera Mitridate. But the album, of course, belongs to Watts, who receives nothing but the most sympathetic support from Laurence Cummings and The English Concert.” Classical Ear, 22nd February 2016

“The music is fascinating, often revelatory, the playing of The English Concert first-rate (Laurence Cummings always has a precise ear for texture and colour), while the mingled grace, brilliance and expressive intensity of Watt’s singing could hardly be bettered.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2015

“this is exciting music, revealing an enormous range of colour and emotions through both scoring and vocal line. Watts grabs every opportunity with a voice of perfect weight, pliancy and line, offering a solid middle balanced with an exciting top.” Opera Now, October 2015

“Watts and director Laurence Cummings give us a dazzling sequence of numbers. Her voice is thrilling at full pelt: brassy enough to make your windows rattle, but sensitive and seductive in the quieter moments. There’s some glorious, athletic trumpet playing from Mark Bennett, and the whole anthology fizzes with theatrical energy.” The Arts Desk, 26th December 2015

“Here given new life with the invigorating English Concert, skittering firework displays alternate with soulful contemplation in a programme full of surprises.” The Independent, 11th October 2015

“Golden-voiced soprano Elizabeth Watts has spent the past few years unearthing neglected arias by Alessandro Scarlatti...Watts just about gets away with the spectacular pyrotechnics but is most affecting when Scarlatti takes his foot off the accelerator.” The Observer, 8th October 2015 ***

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2015

Super Audio CD

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Harmonia Mundi - HMU807574

(SACD)

$12.75

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Pablo Neruda: The Poet Sings

Pablo Neruda: The Poet Sings


Grantham:

La canción desesperada

Kirchner, S:

Tu sangre en la mía Soneto 53

Ratcliff:

Ode to Common Things


Conspirare and Conspirare Chamber Players, Craig Hella Johnson

Craig Hella Johnson leads Conspirare in this vibrant tribute to revered Chilean poet and statesman Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), whose life-affirming poetry is the inspiration for these captivating choral settings by Donald Grantham,

Shawn Kirchner and Cary Ratcliff, all recorded here for the first time.

"In this recording, Conspirare focuses its attention and exploration on the greatly revered Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), whose poems have stirred souls around the world. I have heard more than one passionate reader exclaim “Neruda IS music!” Neruda’s personal universe and the many realms of feeling, color and texture he envisaged with his words have inspired many artists to respond with new creations. It is our hope that the extraordinary musical settings by Cary Ratcliff, Shawn Kirchner, and Donald Grantham can serve as a conduit for an ever deepening experience with this sublime and powerful poetry. For the uninitiated, may it serve as a portal to his art." Craig Hella Johnson

“The teeming variousness of Neruda's litany is fluidly communicated in Conspirares's alert performance. Elsewhere in the cycle the vibrant contributions of soprano Lauren Snouffer are particularly impressive, as is the sense of pregnant reverie distilled by conductor Craig Hella Johnson in the central 'Ode to the guitar'.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2015

Super Audio CD

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Harmonia Mundi - HMU807637

(SACD)

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Sing with the Voice of Melody

Sing with the Voice of Melody

Stile Antico 10th anniversary


Byrd:

Ecce virgo concipiet

Vigilate (from Cantiones sacrae 1589)

Ceballos:

Hortus conclusus

Clemens:

Ego flos campi

Gibbons, O:

O clap your hands

Gombert:

Magnificat I

McCabe, J:

Woefully arrayed

Sheppard, J:

The Lord's Prayer

Tallis:

In pace in idipsum

Gloria from Missa 'Puer natus es nobis'

Tomkins:

O Praise the Lord, All Ye Heathen

Victoria:

O vos omnes


Presto's Katherine Cooper talks to two Stile singers about the past ten years and their plans for the future here.

To celebrate their 10th anniversary, the twelve members of Stile Antico present twelve tracks of their personal favourites, drawn from five centuries of glorious repertoire. Each member has written a paragraph explaining their choice and why they love to sing it.

“The singing is beautifully tidy and expressive, and the CD is a useful way to decid which of their CDs you would like to explore further.” Early Music Review, June 2015

“This compilation disc is an ideal introduction to their work: both to their refreshing approach to programming and to the refined but vigorous quality of their sound...While treasures still remain to be discovered from the Renaissance era, they sing the McCabe so brilliantly one hopes that in their next decade they embrace more of the new too.” The Observer, 21st June 2015 ****

Super Audio CD

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Harmonia Mundi - HMU807650

(SACD)

$9.50

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Talbot, J: The Path of Miracles

Talbot, J: The Path of Miracles


Conspirare, Craig Hella Johnson

Craig Hella Johnson leads Conspirare on a musical journey along Spain’s famous Camino de Compostela in this inspiring performance of 'Path of Miracles' by British composer Joby Talbot. Talbot studied with Simon Bainbridge at the Guildhall and in 2004 was named Classic FM's first Composer in Residence. The Royal Ballet's recent revival of Talbot's 'Alice in Wonderland', played to packed houses and rave reviews.

“This is musical mysticism at its richest and most greedy - grasping from all traditions and courses, and treasuring each element in this musical collage.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2015

“a very beautiful and impressively produced recording of a fine contemporary vocal masterpiece, and for that alone it is to be highly commended.” MusicWeb International, 24th July 2015

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Harmonia Mundi - HMU807603

(SACD)

$12.75

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days.

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