Press Releases: August 2017

George Frederic Handel
Parnasso in festa

Andrea Marcon, David Hansen, Robin Johannsen, Kangmin Justin Kim, Jenny Högstrom, Silke Gäng, Francesca Ascioti, Luca Tittoto, La Cetra Barockorchester Basel, La Cetra Vokalensemble Basel.


Andrea Marcon and La Cetra sparkle in this new release from PENTATONE of Handel’s forgotten masterpiece Parnasso in festa, recorded shortly before their critically acclaimed Netherlands premiere of the opera in November 2016.

Handel wrote this sumptuous work in 1734 to celebrate the marriage in London of Princess Anne and Prince William of Orange. Cast in the form of a serenata, Parnasso in festa recounts the joyful wedding feast of Thetis and Peleus at which the Muses are present. It’s packed with breathtaking arias, duets and choruses, all written with the verve, drama and sense of occasion to be expected from Handel. The care he lavished on the richly instrumented score is striking, from the masterly reworking of material from his oratorio Athalia to the ravishing original material, making this work unique among Handel’s output.

Parnasso in festa proved popular in its day it was revived several times but it was largely forgotten after 1741. Now after years of neglect, this superbly crafted work has been recognised for the glorious entertainment that it is.

The renowned Baroque specialist Andrea Marcon is noted for his striking and vivid interpretations. Here he gives Parnasso in festa the attention it deserves with an outstanding vocal cast around his period-instrument group La Cetra.

Opera News described Robin Johansen’s performance in the Netherlands premiere as “[a] revelation … superbly agile and fresh-sounding—but also expressive—in Clio’s taxing music.”

The demanding role of Apollo is undertaken by the countertenor David Hansen, a rising star described by The New Yorker as “…a pure-voiced young Australian who is typical of a new breed of matinée-idol countertenors”.

And a performance at the Handel Festival in 2014 drew rave reviews “Altogether, with the virtuosic playing of the inspired Cetra orchestra under Maestro Marcon, so finely balanced with the stunning chorus and soloists, this concert performance of an infrequently performed serenata became … one of the high points of the festival.” (Opera con Brio)

It’s a sumptuous banquet for Handel lovers and opera enthusiasts and especially ‘fit for royalty’.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Flute Quartets

Ulf-Dieter Schaaff, Philipp Beckert, Andreas Willwohl, Georg Boge


Graceful, refined and irresistibly charming, the Flute Quartets occupy an exquisite place in Mozart’s incomparable chamber music. This light, airy music with its vivid contrasts, delicious textures and irrepressible wit is brought to life by the soloists of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin in this new release from PENTATONE.

Mozart may have disparaged the flute as an instrument but he shows no signs of weariness in these exemplary works which positively overflow with youthful optimism.  The young unemployed Mozart wrote three of the flute quartets following a commission from the Dutch amateur flautist Ferdinand Dejean in Mannheim. Around the same time he also started work on his famous Concerto for Flute and Harp.

The Flute Quartet in D K285 is a breezy affair written in concertante style which brims with attractive melodies. Its sublimely affecting slow movement was described by the biographer Alfred Einstein as “perhaps the most beautiful accompanied flute solo that has even been written”. The simple, unhurried Flute Quartet in G K285A contains a delightful interplay of instruments, while the Flute Quartet in C K285B has a charming theme and variations with a spirited finale. The playful Flute Quartet in A K298 is a later work perhaps written for a group of friends; it contains borrowings from other composers artfully woven into the engaging and witty score. The result is, of course, utterly winning.

Ulf-Dieter Schaaff is the principal flautist with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, a position he combines with a career as a soloist and as an internationally sought-after teacher. He is joined by his colleagues Philipp Beckert (violin), Andreas Willwohl (viola) and Georg Boge (violoncello). This is their first recording for PENTATONE.

Maurice Ravel
Daphnis et Chloé

Gustavo Gimeno, Orchestre Philharmonique Luxembourg


Sensuous, lushly evocative and intricately constructed, Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé is widely regarded as his greatest orchestral masterpiece and one of the 20th century’s finest ballet scores. This vast musical fresco with its shimmering harmonies, magical diaphanous textures and spectacular conclusion is compellingly realised by Gustavo Gimeno and the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg in this eagerly awaited release from PENTATONE. The album also contains the haunting and exquisite Pavane pour une infante défunte and the vividly scored Une barque sur l’océan.

Stravinsky regarded Daphnis et Chloé as “not only Ravel’s best work, but also one of the most beautiful products of French music” and it’s easy to see why. Written with consummate finesse for Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes, this “choreographic symphony” is an intoxicating blend of warm, seductive harmonies and passionate intensity, realised on a large orchestral canvas. Three movements have become perennially popular: the luxuriant Lever du jour, the enchanting Pantomine and the raucous Danse générale (Bacchanale) which Ravel incorporated in the later Daphnis and Chloé Suite No. 2. Elsewhere, Ravel displays the same deftness of touch with the much-loved Pavane pour une infante défunte and Une barque sur l’océan, both masterly orchestrations of his charming piano miniatures.

“Gimeno cultivates … a bright, transparent orchestral sound free of dull pathos and also rediscovers colours in this score,” wrote the Trierischer Volksfreund in 2014. “[…] Wonderful! This conductor is a discovery!”

This is Gustavo Gimeno’s third recording with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg (OPL) for PENTATONE following two releases in May 2017 of orchestral works by Bruckner and Shostakovich. A further six projects are planned in the coming years.

“We’re very excited to make this multi-album collaboration with PENTATONE part of the artistic journey of the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg and Gustavo Gimeno,” writes Matthew Studdert-Kennedy, Head of Artistic Planning at the OPL. “Having the opportunity to commit to a series of recordings of music by a broad range of composers is hugely rewarding for all involved … We believe that the albums ahead of us have a great deal to offer.”


See also PENTATONE News.