Based on true events. During 1910, a group of French anarchists are moved to violence when their leader Raymond take up with the notorious gangster Bonnot. Then, the non-violent anarchists soon turn to murder before escaping to Belgium with the authorities hot on their trail…
This really was quite a fine recording of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, one of the best in years and easily the best of the early music recordings. The Choeur de la Chapelle Royale et du Collegium Vocale sing with strength and stamina, but also with grace and beauty of tone. The Champs Elysees Orchestra plays with power and precision, but also with unity of ensemble and beauty of tone, a very rare quality in an early music orchestra. And Herreweghe himself is actually an apt interpreter of the work. Not only does he have a knack for bringing out better than the best in his performers, but he actually seems to believe in the spiritual and sublime essence of the work, a very, very rare quality in any conductor these days. The result is a performance which, while it doesn't rival the 1940 Toscanini, the 1965 Klemperer, or the 1974 Böhm, does express the overwhelming sense that the numinous is imminent. Harmonia Mundi's sound is rich and vibrant.- James Leonard
Cinque Profeti is a little known Christmas cantata by Alessandro Scarlatti. It has a power and subtlety redolent of Handel coupled with touches of early Monteverdi. Sung here to great effect by the five soloists with sensitive instrumentalists, they play together to bring the gentle and subtle melodies - surely written to confer a sense of the special nature of the Christmas season - to life. It’s a recording which is sure to please. Opera was not performed in Rome for much of Alessandro Scarlatti's lifetime; that's why his vocal church music mostly comprised oratorios and cantatas, of which he wrote three for the Palazzo Apostolico. Only one survives: to a libretto by Silvio Stampiglia. Cinque Profeti takes the inventive form of a conversation between the five old testament prophets, Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Abraham (the cinque profeti) about the birth of Christ – which was about to be celebrated on the occasion of the cantata’s first performance, in 1705 at the Papal Palace in Rome.
JJohann Gottlieb Naumann, a contemporary of Joseph Haydn, was associated with Dresden, worked in Sweden and travelled in Italy. In his Passione di Gesù Cristo he concentrates on smaller scale emotions and conflicts – albeit in the context of the (conventional) Passion story. It was written, probably, in 1767. That’s quite an undertaking for a twenty-six year old, although Naumann already had several other vocal and choral successes to his name.
La Venexiana's Secondo Libro del Madrigali is the second volume in an edition devoted to the recording of all eight of Claudio Monteverdi's madrigal collections undertaken by the Spanish label Glossa. In promotional materials for the series, Glossa admits that this is a "time when 'complete' recordings seem to be coming less meaningful and attractive for the music lover" but have decided that there is need for such a series, especially as La Venexiana is so well-versed in the madrigals of Monteverdi.
From the Middle Ages Hamburg was an economically important city, especially since it joined the Hanseatic League. Its economic position resulted in many political conflicts, in particular with Denmark with which it was in almost constant rivalry. It also had led to Hamburg being declared an imperial city in 1510. Because of this the city couldn't count on the protection provided by the imperial army and had to organise its own defence. The city founded a civic guard for defence from attacks from outside as well as for deployment in the fighting of natural catastrophes. From 1619 it was a permanent institution.
The eighteenth century is probably the most extraordinary period of transformation Europe has known since antiquity. Political upheavals kept pace with the innumerable inventions and discoveries of the age; every sector of the arts and of intellectual and material life was turned upside down. Between the end of the reign of Louis XIV and the revolution of 1789, music in its turn underwent a radical mutation that struck at the very heart of a well-established musical language. In this domain too, we are all children of the Age of Enlightenment: our conception of music and the way we ‘consume’ it still follows in many respects the agenda set by the eighteenth century. And it is not entirely by chance that harmonia mundi has chosen to offer you in 2011 a survey of this musical revolution which, without claiming to be exhaustive, will enable you to grasp the principal outlines of musical creation between the twilight of the Baroque and the dawn of Romanticism.
"The Scholl/Herreweghe CD is distinguished by its marriage of beautiful sound and expressive intensity. The richly nuanced orchestral playing remains forceful throughout and Scholl imbues his beguiling voice with a fervent conviction…"– BBC Music Magazine
"Kooy must by now have appeared in more Bach cantata recordings than any other solo singer in history, and even in 1991 when these recordings were made he was an experienced Bach singer of immense authority. His performances of these soul-searching, inward-looking works are stamped with a level of technical command and sensitivity that renders more obvious gesture superfluous. This is masterly and utterly compelling singing."– Brian Robins