Conductor Philippe Herreweghe returns to the helm of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic for another set of Beethoven symphonies on the PentaTone label, this time the First and Third. Again presented as a multi-channel SACD hybrid disc, PentaTone's sound is clean and detailed without too much digital sterility. Unlike the album that included the Fifth Symphony and was fraught with many rhythmic peculiarities, Herreweghe's reading of the First and Third symphonies seems diligently respectful to every nuance of the score.
Mozart's Requeim is another masterpiece where he unleashes his overwhelming genius, which even his jealous contemporaries could not not find words for other than "divine". At the same time, it is also a subject of great controversy as to how the unfinished portions should have been completed (serious listeners should try to learn more about how Sussmayr completed the work and how his work is criticized). Whatever the case, this is unquestionably one of the greatest works of art ever created by man….
The Collegium Vocale Gent, the Royal Flemish Philharmonic and Philippe Herreweghe join forces once again for a monument of the sacred choral repertoire: Antonín Dvorák’s Requiem, Op. 89. This work, dating from 1890, is one of those that marked a new phase
The odes that Purcell wrote for annual concerts in honor of St. Cecilia (the patron saint of music) are among his most celebrated works. Chief among them is Hail! Bright Cæcilia, which calls for the "Warb'ling Lute … airy Violin … Am'rous Flute," and all the Harmony of War," along with chorus and a bevy of soloists, to demonstrate their prowess… –Matthew Westphal
Philippe Herreweghe is widely considered to be one of the foremost Bach interpreters of our time. This four deluxe CD-Book collection is part of the Philippe herreweghe Bach Edition, and features key works from the Bach canon. Each set in the series is available at a very special low price and features packaging and liner-notes on a par with the best that harmonia mundi offers. These sets are a rare bargain and a must-have for collectors…
Hans Leo Hassler was roughly contemporary with Palestrina and wrote in a similarly transparent style. Though he was Lutheran, he set numerous Latin texts, including the Mass. The Missa super Dixit Maria is a "parody" based on Hassler's famous motet Dixit Maria ad angelum. That motet isn't included here, unfortunately, but you can clearly hear its themes recurring in the various Mass movements. The motets on this disc include several penitential items with a striking chromaticism Palestrina wouldn't have touched. Vater unser, a setting of Luther's versification of the Lord's Prayer, seems dull in this company. That hardly matters–Philippe Herreweghe's rendition of the Mass is jaw-droppingly beautiful, more than worth the price of the CD. –Matthew Westphal
The first thing to note is that this is the 1725 revision of Bach's St. John Passion, not the original 1724 version that is usually performed. This will become immediately apparent to those familiar with the score, as the opening chorus is entirely different in the later revision. Bach substitutes a few of the arias, too, and commentators seem in agreement that this later edition is in fact more incisively dramatic. Philippe Herreweghe has already made a superb recording of the original version, but here the conductor assembles an even finer group of singers for this newer account. Mark Padmore is a marvelously expressive, sweet-toned Evangelist. Sibylla Rubens's agile soprano voice is a joy to the ear. Sebastian Noack's bass seems light at first, but his bright, lyrical sound contrasts effectively with the deeper, more sonorous tone of Michael Volle's Jesus. Countertenor Andreas Scholl, a favorite collaborator of Herreweghe's, is simply stunning. (Andrew Farach-Colton)
Philippe Herreweghe's Bach performances are like no others: spiritual and deeply felt, but also scholarly, and thoroughly thought-through. They sound collaborative, with the vocal soloists given plenty of liberty, but they also give the impression that there is a singular will shaping the performance into a unified and wholly individualistic reading. Even the tone of the period instruments is subtly different: warm yet pungent, colorful yet blended, sometimes sweet, but more often tart. Listeners familiar with the Bach of Gardiner or Harnoncourt may at first be challenged by Herreweghe's approach, but the power of his performances may win them over. In this 1998 Harmonia Mundi recording of the "Matthäus-Passion," tenor Ian Bostridge's account of the central role of the Evangelist is slightly to the left of center, more emotionally expressive, and more rhythmically pliable than most, but Herreweghe's interpretation can easily accommodate him. (James Leonard)