Discover our new releases: April 13th!
After a number of appearances in Alpha productions (notably as a sublime Alcina in the DVD conducted by Christophe Rousset and staged by Pierre Audi at La Monnaie), Sandrine Piau now joins the label for several recordings. With Chimère, she invites us on a voyage into the intimate and infinite territory of dreams. ‘Chimera: an illusory, unsatisfied quest, the graveyard of our illusions...’ She and her longstanding partner, the pianist Susan Manoff, have thought up a programme combining the German lied (Hugo Wolf, one of Schumann’s Mignon songs, a scene from Goethe’s Faust by Carl Loewe), Mélodies by Debussy and Poulenc (his Banalités), and Art Songs by Barber along with discoveries of more rarely heard composers like Ivor Gurney and the Dickinson Songs of André Previn – the celebrated American conductor is less well-known for his compositions, which include this magnificent cycle written for Renée Fleming. Equally at home in French, German and English, Sandrine Piau is at the peak of her artistry. Fantoches, Clair de Lune, Solitary Hotel, Will there really be a morning?: set out for the world of dreams following this unique poetic itinerary. ‘The land of chimeras is the only one in this world worth living in’ (Jean-Jacques Rousseau).
Quartet No.3 & Quintet
Formed in 1994 at the Royal College of Music in London, the Belcea Quartet has recorded the complete string quartets of Beethoven, Brahms, Bartók and Britten. For this new Alpha release it has chosen two works by one of the leading composers of twentieth-century chamber music, Dmitri Shostakovich. The Quartet no.3, of historic importance, was initially censured by the Soviet regime, then revised by Shostakovich for its first performance in 1946; the refined playing of the Belcea Quartet brings out all its contours. The Piano Quintet is among its composer’s most famous works and significantly contributed to his success on the international scene and with the Soviet authorities. The Belcea Quartet performs it in the company of the Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski: the result is a musical encounter at the highest level of excellence.
Michel-Richard de Lalande
Le Poème Harmonique
In 1683, Michel-Richard de Lalande entered the Chapelle Royale as a sous-maître after receiving the support of Louis XIV in a formidable recruitment competition. Still only twenty-five years old, the young composer was swiftly to become established as the King’s favourite and accede to the most coveted posts at court in a career spanning almost forty years. Above all, Louis included him in the consultations for the construction of the new Chapelle Royale, adjacent to Versailles Palace. As the arches gradually rose skywards, Lalande composed and revised his motets, which give expression to the then-peerless grandeur of the realm, while at the same time testifying to the chapel’s incomparable acoustics. His works – settings of psalms, hymns, the Te Deum – record the atmosphere at court in the liturgy, in times of both trouble and rejoicing. Following their earlier recording of Te Deum settings by Lully and Charpentier at the Chapelle Royale, Vincent Dumestre and Le Poème Harmonique have now returned to Versailles to tackle the music Lalande composed for that extraordinary place. Alongside the grands motets Deitatis majestatem and Ecce nunc benedicite, with their synthesis of royal pomp and the language of opera, they offer the deeply moving Miserere and the most grandiose Te Deum performed in the reign of Louis XIV, the Te Deum of the King himself.
For his first recording Saténik Khourdoïan, concertmaster of the Orchestre symphonique de la Monnaie and an enthusiastic and passionate violinist, joins forces with the gifted pianist Alexander Gurning, who has received numerous awards for his qualities as a chamber music performer. Fauré and Saint-Saëns found in Ysaÿe a virtuoso performer and an exceptional ally in getting their music known, who was on friendly terms with both men and was also a composer himself. They often played together in Paris, notably at the concerts of the Société nationale, and in the Brussels salons of the XX and the Libre Esthétique.
(Willisau) 1991 Studio
Anthony Braxton Quartet
Braxton’s quartet compositions were ‘conceived as a response to the challenge of tomorrow’... That is, the challenge is to extend the tradition, not merely repeat it. And if, as Ornette said, tomorrow is the question, then I’m certain these CDs will provide some of the answers. – Graham LockBraxton’s quartet compositions were ‘conceived as a response to the challenge of tomorrow’... That is, the challenge is to extend the tradition, not merely repeat it. And if, as Ornette said, tomorrow is the question, then I’m certain these CDs will provide some of the answers.
Symbol Systems occupies a special place in Matthew Shipp’s discography. Originally issued in 1995 on the No More Records label, it was at the time his sixth release as a leader or co-leader, but significantly his first solo album, and as such provided us with the purest view to date of his multifaceted, indivisible improvisational/compositional concepts.
Silvan Schmid Quintet
As a trumpet player with many years of experience I am still interested in the music of younger colleagues. In the summer 2016, by pure coincidence I met and heard Silvan Schmid play and I was both impressed and touched by his very special playing. I was pleased to hear a trumpet player who plays “different”. Silvan does not sound “out of a school”. In his early years he already has his musical dialect… His beautiful tone, his very sensitive articulation and phrasing are an earcatcher. Brilliant technique, but no “flasher”. He integrates, without giving any of his personal assets away, into a given situation. Great fulfilment he obviously finds in an ideal way in his GAMUT projects. A fascinating group of astonishing young musicians that creates an ambient where improvisation and composition mutually dissolve into a resolution.
Hans Kennel, trumpet player, 2017