Toronto-based Tafelmusik is one of the world’s leading period performance ensembles, renowned internationally for its distinct, exhilarating, and soulful performances. Founded in 1979 by Kenneth [...]
Analekta: 20 Years of Excellence (6 CDbox-set)
They spoke about it
ANALEKTA is Greek for “a collection of the finest works.” Since the inception of the company in 1988, founder and President François Mario Labbé and his team of dedicated people have worked diligently to represent its corporate name.
In 1988, he produced his first recording on the Analekta label. Twenty years later, François Mario Labbé still leads the company he founded. Analekta has added more than 350 titles to its catalogue, which he has dedicated to the promotion of Canadian talent by recording more than 200 Canadian musicians, a large number of whom are from Quebec.
For many, this was the first step to an international career, and all have honoured the company’s high standards. André Laplante, Aline Kutan, Daniel Taylor, Karina Gauvin, Lyne Fortin, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, James Ehnes, the Gryphon Trio, Alain Lefèvre and Jean-Philippe Tremblay are some of the Analekta artists who have become major players at the international level. François Mario Labbé indeed understood that recording wasn’t enough, that a national and international distribution network had to be assured. Thanks to unrelenting effort backed by patience and know-how, Analekta has assured many of its artists distribution in over ten countries.
A true visionary, François Mario Labbé has been, is, and will continue to be an important player in the promotion of Quebec’s musical culture and the recognition of its talents.
Analekta has become the largest independent classical record company in Canada. Being the recipient of many distinguished prizes, notably for the quality of its recordings and the rigorous musicianship of its artists, Analekta has earned a reputation of excellence on the international music scene. The company is now considered a benchmark within the Canadian music industry and a true gem of Canadian culture.
The driving force behind the label has always been its musicians, exceptional artists who would become Analekta’s guarantee of excellence. Over the years, the label has therefore developed an association with the country’s finest musicians and musical organizations who have always provided fine performances, originality and excellence.
Analekta’s selection of the finest works featuring the finest Canadian musicians continues to flourish. More than ever, Analekta is synonymous with excellence.
Harpsichordist and organist Luc Beauséjour is renowned for the elegance, virtuosity, and expressiveness of his playing, which have won him an enthusiastic audience and the continuing praise of critics and music specialists. Mr. Beauséjour leads a very active performing schedule in Canada and abroad. In the last few years, he has won numerous awards, including “2003 Performer of the Year” by the Conseil québécois de la musique and two Félix at the Gala de l’ADISQ (2002 and 2006). Luc Beauséjour has recorded some 25 CDs, many of which have won awards and praise from music magazines.
“Beauséjour’s distinctive playing clearly deserves to rank with the best, and if he’s planning a lengthy series (this is Volume 2) Scarlatti fans are in for a wild ride.” (Classics Today)
“The natural breathing of his harpsichord and the remarkable attention he devotes to proportions and to singing make him a rare artist.”
Luc Beauséjour has chosen here to present two sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti, recognized as the true pioneer of modern keyboard technique. His music is highly idiomatic, innovative, and written with a profound knowledge of the virtuosic demands and tonal resources of the harpsichord, exploiting to the utmost the instrument’s different registers.
The Red Army Chorus
The Red Army Chorus was founded in 1928, to support the morale of the troops and exalt the revolutionary ideal. They were to become a milestone in 20th-century musical history. A true visionary, Mario Labbé was the first to present the chorus to Canadians and to bring them on tour to the United States. The Chorus made history as the first Russians to set foot on American soil for a non-political occasion. They here perform two of their most popular numbers.
Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà
One of Canada’s most prominent artists, virtuoso violinist Angèle Dubeau has for the past 30 years led an exceptional career that has seen her perform on the world’s most prestigious stages. If, through the years, her talent, her virtuosity and her musicianship have garnered her numerous awards, it is first and foremost the audiences that have fallen for her enthralling playing, her generosity, her spirit, her remarkable communication skills and her exceptional ability to connect with them. She has sold 400 000 recordings throughout her career.
“Dubeau plays everything with alluring sweetness and sophistication and her colleagues match her tender, inflected playing note for note.” (Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone)
In 1997, she created La Pietà, a string ensemble of variable dimensions, bringing together eight to twelve of the finest women musicians in Canada. Renowned for their breathtaking virtuosity and above all, their contagious joy of playing, Angèle Dubeau and La Pietà have toured extensively in America as well as Asia for the past ten years.
As a soloist, Ms. Dubeau performs two works. The first, Locatelli’s Caprice No. 9, is an excerpt from her Solo album, which has been hailed by BBC Magazine as “… rich and vibrant, and performed with a passion…” Her Sibelius Concerto, a masterwork of the violin concerto repertoire, has been saluted as one of the most beautiful versions by international critics.
A dedicated chamber musician, she also recorded a memorable version of Schubert’s Sonatas with Anton Kuerti, which has been compared to the legendary version by Pinchas Zukerman and Daniel Barenboim. “The analytic probity of these readings… never impedes the song-like flow of material that Schubert valued so highly,” stated The Globe and Mail. Both musicians performed the work on stage at the concert celebrating her 30 years of career. Ms. Dubeau has also included a few Mozart arias, recorded with the late Alain Marion.
With La Pietà, she performs Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 as well as Joe Hisaishi’s Princess Mononoke, from their A Fairy Tale release. The Los Angeles Times wrote: “… Dubeau is an exciting, dynamic fiddler… The performances were consistently robust and inquiring, taking nothing for granted… Dubeau’s well-drilled band played with agility, power, a nicely weighted sound and a fierce joy in the doing…”
James Ehnes has established an international career of rare distinction. He has performed in over 20 countries on four continents with many renowned conductors. Recitals have taken Mr. Ehnes to major cities around the world and he has also performed at major international festivals. He possesses an impressive discography, saluted by several prizes including three Junos, one Félix and a nomination for a 2008 Grammy.
“Ehnes produces the most outrageously seductive sound throughout the range and possesses the kind of effortless technique that has the listener forgetting that any potential difficulties even exist.” (International Record Review)
“Ehnes makes a simply glorious sound […] his effortless command, dead-centre intonation and selfless artistry consistently hold the attention.” (The Strad)
The Sonata in F minor included here is taken from the second recording dedicated to Bach’s Sonatas with Luc Beauséjour. It “completes a cycle that now takes its rightful place as a version of reference.” (Classics Today)
Karina Gauvin’s unique voice, remarkable technique, and accomplished musicianship have charmed audiences worldwide from the Royal Opera House in London to the prestigious 92nd Street Y and the Lincoln Center in New York. In 1996 Karina Gauvin was chosen “Soloist of the Year” by the International French Public Radio Community and in 2000 she was given an Opus Award as “performer of the year.”
“The soprano has a luminous, supple, voice, expressively refined. Her diction is clear and her articulation limpid. She knows how to subtly calibrate colours and vibrato with flair. This is a remarkable voice.” (Répertoire)
She sings two excerpts from Beethoven’s incidental music to Egmont with the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal, and an aria by Stötzel, Bist du bei mir.
The Gryphon Trio has used the inspiration of its namesake well to its advantage, creating an award-winning career playing contemporary and classic works. Since 1993, the group has built an audience across the globe, sharing its passion for chamber music. The Gryphon Trio has achieved this balance through an extensive array of projects. One of the group’s most acclaimed collaborations is the multimedia music-as-theatre work Constantinople, conceived by Canadian composer Christos Hatzis.
“The key to success in the trios is lyricism, which the Gryphon musicians acknowledge to flowingly poetic effect… As played by [the Gryphon Trio], the radiance, serenity and vitality in these [Schubert] works come across with a keen blend of sweep and nuance.” (Gramophone)
“One of the best ensembles of its kind in the world, consistently making music of rare excellence.” (The Globe and Mail)
“Old Photographs,” an excerpt from Constantinople, was featured of their Canadian Premieres Juno winning album in 2003. They also perform Mozart’s charming Divertimento K. 254, Haydn’s brilliant Trio in C major and Schubert’s haunting Adagio from his Notturno.
I Musici de Montréal, Yuli Turovsky
Founded in 1983 by cellist and conductor Yuli Turovsky, I Musici de Montréal is a chamber orchestra of 15 musicians that presents a vast repertoire extending from the Baroque to the contemporary. The orchestra presents a busy schedule of over 100 concerts per season throughout the world including three prestigious series in Montreal. This extraordinary amount of activity places I Musici amongst the most important touring orchestras in Canada. The numerous recordings of the ensemble have garnered several prestigious awards.
“Just what makes this 15-piece string ensemble so enormously successful?
Turovsky’s restless imagination, limitless energy and consuming passion for music…” (The Strad)
“Vigour, momentum and sensibility in ensemble playing, presence and precision of the solo cello, warm and detailed sound…” (La Presse, about the Violonchelo español recording)
Yuli Turovsky is soloist and conductor in these two pieces by Alexander Glazunov, excerpts from the Violonchelo español recording.
Anton Kuerti has toured thirty-one countries, including Japan, Russia, and most European countries, and has performed with most major North American orchestras and conductors. Kuerti is one of today’s most recorded artists: compact discs of his performances include all the Beethoven concertos and sonatas, the Schubert sonatas, the Brahms concertos, and works by many other composers. His recording of the complete Beethoven sonatas, though recorded more than 30 years, remains a reference.
“Inspiring… he reaches sublime heights…” (American Record Guide)
“Kuerti’s insights are forever fresh. This is a pianist for whom clear voicing of counterpoint is a natural corollary of lucid thought… an artist for whom details of rhythm and stress illuminate the music rather than draw attention to it.” (The Gazette)
The work chosen here is Beethoven’s penultimate sonata, his Opus 110.
Since the 1950’s, Bernard Lagacé has been a leader in the revival of the classical organ in North America. He was granted the Prix Calixa-Lavallée in 1989, from the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal, recognizing not only the “musical genius of Bernard Lagacé, but also the sensitivity, the profundity and the eloquence of the artist…” He is best known for his interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach, and his recording of Bach’s complete keyboard works is a colossal sum. He chose two excerpts from Clavierübung III, “Organ Mass.”
“Each new recording in this series becomes a magnificent stone to be added to a monument Lagacé builds with art. We are witnessing the erection of an incontrovertible pillar of any discography that holds an interest to Bach, thus to the organ.” (Le Devoir)
Through the years, Canadian pianist André Laplante has established himself as one of the great romantic virtuosos. André Laplante has performed in major concert centres in Europe, North America and the Far East, to the highest critical acclaim, and has been ranked with Ashkenazy, Horowitz, and Rudolph Serkin. In recent years he has appeared as orchestral soloist with major orchestras and at leading music festivals.
“[Ravel’s] shorter works, too, are perfectly conceived and characterized, whether the mood be sombre, charming, witty, or playful. The program is varied, and the sound quality is vivid at all levels without ever being brittle. Laplante is an artist I would like to hear much more from. A highly recommended disc.” (American Record Guide)
“His mastery of the instrument stands out even in an age of high technical standards. In my experience, he brings to everything he plays an impressive mixture of virtuosity, rich tone, lyrical phrasing, and sincere feeling.” (American Record Guide)
He here performs Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavane for a Dead Princess), a highly poetic work that shows Ravel’s interest in old dances.
Winner of a Classical Internet Award 2004 (Classicstoday.com) and also recipient of a Félix Award (ADISQ) for Best Classical Album of the Year 2004, both prizes for his recording on the Analekta label featuring André Mathieu’s Concerto de Québec, pianist Alain Lefèvre was up again for a 2nd Juno and an Indie Awards nomination with Rhapsodies, recorded with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. BBC Music Magazine hailed Lefèvre’s “greatest passion and excitement,” awarding 5 stars, and recommending the CD as “an essential purchase.”
“The musical thrust could take the breath away, yet pianistic control reigned in every bar. Excitement informed all the climactic points, yet caressive passages received detailed scrutiny: an extraordinary achievement…” (Herald Tribune)
“Alain Lefèvre proved himself to be talented and energetic in everything he played… very much in the manner of the great keyboard virtuosos, he phrased with much verve and spirit.” (Westdeutsche Zeitung)
Two of his most widely acclaimed recording performances are included here: André Mathieu’s profoundly lyrical Concerto de Québec (with the OSQ) and Gershwin’s electrifying Rhapsody in Blue (with the OSM).
Quebec contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux started her career in a spectacular way. In 2000, at the age of 24, she won the Queen Fabiola Prize (1st Prize) as well as the Special Lied Prize at the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition of Belgium. Winning this prestigious prize opened the door to an immediate international career, allowing her to perform in recital and in concert with many of the great orchestras, to be invited by numerous international festivals and opera houses. She received the Opus Award of the year for the best Early Music concert of 2003.
“Marie-Nicole Lemieux is a major talent, an artist of the first rank, a commanding presence and a thrilling interpreter.” (Classics Today)
“At once tenderness and reserve, emotion and restraint, vocal splendour and an appetite for textual clarity, this is a style that stands out… A great career is in the making for Marie-Nicole Lemieux.” (Le Soir)
Marie-Nicole Lemieux here sings two luscious lieder by Brahms and Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater, a remarkably sombre and profoundly sorrowful work, with not a single hint of the exuberant concertist.
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Jeanne Lamon
Tafelmusik, Canada’s orchestra on period instruments, was founded in 1979. Since the arrival of its Music Director and concertmaster Jeanne Lamon in 1981, Tafelmusik has achieved international recognition for its concerts and recordings. Tafelmusik has released over 70 CDs and has been awarded numerous international recording prizes, including nine Junos.
“Tafelmusik under Bruno Weil bring characteristic touch to this recording [of Beethoven symphonies]. The strings are sparse and largely straight-toned, revealing surprising hues of colour in the wind parts. After years of big romantic orchestral performances this sound is wonderfully new, especially in the second and third movements of the sixth symphony. The fourth movement “storm” is delightfully bad weather, reminiscent of The Four Seasons and the finale offers a slightly slower tempo than usually heard but works well nevertheless.” (Whole Note)
“Scintillating, dynamic, articulate and vibrant… nothing short of phenomenal.” (Classics Today)
They here perform “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” from Handel’s oratorio Solomon as well as Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony, a recording rewarded by a Juno that received rave reviews.
Geneviève Soly, Artistic Director of Les Idées heureuses is one of the few Graupner specialists. She was the one to unearth his substantial corpus of works for the harpsichord. Since January 2001, she has been studying the composer’s music and disseminating information about it with her usual passion and spirit. The international press is unanimous in praising the quality and the importance of Geneviève Soly’s performances and musicological endeavours.
“Graupner has found an extremely sympathetic interpreter in Soly, whose sense of colour and pacing at the harpsichord, coupled with her confident technique, puts Graupner’s music in its best light.” (Scott Paterson, Opus Canada)
“[Graupner’s partitas] are delightful works in Ms. Soly’s deft treatment.” (New York Times)
She here leads Les Idées heureuses in Graupner’s Ach Gott und Herr Cantata.
Matthew White ‘s singing career has already taken him all over North America, to Europe, South America, Asia, and New Zealand, both as soloist and recitalist. Operatic engagements have included work with the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Glyndebourne Touring Opera, the Houston Grand Opera, Cleveland Opera, Opera Atelier, and Pacific Opera Victoria. He is the programming director for Montreal’s Ensemble Les Voix Baroques.
“Matthew White’s gorgeous, pure countertenor resounded like a clarion call during his solo arias… The Agnus Dei brought a return to high drama, most notably featuring White’s soaring countertenor in a plaintive cry for mercy.” (San Francisco Classical Voice)
“The first aria from Alessandro Scarlatti’s cantata for a bruised heart prunes the vocal line to a devastated near-monotone, while the skeletal string band touches the beat as cautiously as if it were an open wound. This is what the Blues sounded like in 18th-century Italy.” (The Globe and Mail)
Bach’s aria “Ich habe genug” is taken from a recording that won a 2004 Cannes Classical Award.
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Founded in 1934, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal is one of the major cultural organizations in the city whose name it bears with pride. From Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, located in the heart of the city, the OSM shines throughout Quebec and Canada. Through its national and international tours and its recordings, it has also become a cultural ambassador, making an important contribution to the spread of culture and artistic exchanges. The OSM has made close to 90 recordings for which it has received 47 awards.
Orchestre symphonique de Québec
On October 3, 2002, the Orchestre symphonique de Québec celebrated its 100th anniversary. Since its foundation, the OSQ has been associated with countless Quebec City events—events of great significance such as the inauguration of the Théâtre Capitole in 1903, of the Palais Montcalm in 1932, and of the Grand Théâtre de Québec in 1971. A cultural symbol par excellence, the OSQ performs a wide symphonic repertoire and is one of the select few to lead and inspire the musical industry in the Quebec City region. The OSQ also has an impressive set of recordings since 1977, including on the Analekta record label.
Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal
The Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal was founded in 1981 by a group of musicians, graduates of Quebec’s most respected institutions. Since then, the orchestra has answered with much enthusiasm to the mandate it had first set for itself, which is promoting the talent of Quebec musicians and composers and developing a new public for music. With this in mind, the orchestra has developed a touring series called “Tournée dans l’Île,” seeing it perform in the greater Montreal area, allowing residents to participate in Montreal’s cultural life.