Up until around 1900 the clarinet repertoire was dominated by music from the German-speaking lands, largely due to the influence of three outstanding clarinetists. Inspired by Anton Stadler, Heinrich Bärmann and Richard Mühlfeld respectively, Mozart, Weber and Brahms composed some of the finest clarinet works ever written.
Jacques Rivest was best known as Pollen's vocalist and multi-instrumentalist prior to the release of his first, self-titled solo album in 1979. The LP features Pollen band mates Claude Lemay (keyboards) and Richard Lemoyne (guitar), joined by Daniel Mathieu (bass) and Serge Courchesne (drums/horns). Some of the material is more mainstream, but the acoustic instrumentation lends itself to a folk vibe, and there are some truly progressive moments, as on the Eastern-looking "Voyage au Tibet", as well as the double-keyboard lines and singing, reminiscent of Pollen, found on other tracks. 2006 saw the re-release of Rivest's first solo album, this time on CD, by ProgQuebec. The album is now augmented by a bonus track, taken from a single released about the same time as the original album release.
Principals Natalia Osipova and Steven McRae dance Ashton’s Rhapsody, created for The Royal Ballet in 1980 with the star parts taken by Mikhail Baryshnikov and Lesley Collier. Ashton provided spectacular choreography to suit the dancers’ virtuoso abilities. Lauren Cuthbertson and Vadim Muntagirov lead a charismatic cast in Ashton’s poignant and heart-warming reflection on love, The Two Pigeons, based on an old French folktale and first performed on Valentine’s Day 1961. These two ballets by the Company’s Founder Choreographer capture The Royal Ballet’s famous skill and distinctive style. Barry Wordsworth conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in the rapturous Rachmaninoff and Messager scores.
Verdi, child of the people, king of popular opera, began life as the son of an innkeeper. He was brought up in modest circumstances. He first received lessons from the village priest, who was amazed by the young musician’s talents. Verdi’s musical education was rounded and complete: at the age of sixteen, the composer wrote fugues, masses and symphonies, which he would later destroy. As he met with reticence in Milan, he settled in Busseto where he fell victim to the pettiness of the town. However, his strong willpower enabled him to pursue his musical path without paying heed to what people said.
The French tenor Julien Behr is one of today’s rising vocal stars. Voted ‘Révélation artiste lyrique de l’Adami’ in 2009, the year he made his international debut at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, he has become famous for his Mozart roles (including Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, recorded live at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in 2016 under the direction of Jérémie Rhorer, Alpha379).
Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952) is among the most prominent names in contemporary music scene today. This new album by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hannu Lintu includes world première recordings of three works by Saariaho featuring bass-baritone Gerald Finley and harpist Xavier de Maistre as soloists. True Fire is a six-movement song cycle that was written to a commission from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the NDR Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre National de France, for baritone Gerald Finley with an original idea to explore the scope of the baritone voice. The texts conclusively determined what the vocal expression would be like and how the details in the musical material would shape up.