Nikolai Borisovich Obukhov (Nicolas Obouhow) (1892–1954) was a modernist and mystic Russian composer, active mainly in France. An avant-garde figure who took as his point of departure the late music of Scriabin, he fled Russia along with his family after the Bolshevik Revolution, settling in Paris. His music is notable for its religious mysticism, its unusual notation, its use of an idiosyncratic 12-tone chromatic language, and its pioneering use of electronic musical instruments in the era of their earliest development.
The second Gombert project with seventeen of his masterpieces, the motets, some of them being first recorded here. The best description of Gombert’s motets was written by Hermann Finck more than four centuries ago, in 1556: For he avoids pauses, and his work is rich with full harmonies and imitative counterpoint. Beauty farm founded 2014 by Markus Muntean and Bernhard Trebuch is a vocal group focused to the Franco-Flemish polyphony of the renaissance. The international ensemble is based in the carthusian monastery at Mauerbach (Austria). The singers are members of well known ensembles like «Capilla flamenca», «Huelgas Ensemble», «Vox Luminis», «Collegium Vocale Gent» and «Graindelavoix». Beauty Farm exclusively records for frabernardo.
The works in this programme demonstrate Philip Glass’s perpetual goal of connecting with his audience. Taking shape as something like a hidden sonata form, Mad Rush contrasts peaceful atmosphere with tempestuousness and mesmerizing beauty. The last of its kind in Glass’s oeuvre, 600 Lines, here receiving its première recording on solo piano, is an obsessive and hypnotically restless toccata that represents the zenith of his experiences while working with Ravi Shankar. These two monumental works are joined by première recordings of the subtly transformed Metamorphosis 2, and Glass’s only transcription in the form of Paul Simon’s The Sound of Silence.
Gombert’s compositions are all vocal, some of which are for ensembles of up to twelve parts. His contrapuntal language is based on that of Josquin, but taken to the next level of complexity. Gombert’s vocal textures are often densely packed and the individual lines are characterised by an avoidance of rests. A substantial number of Gombert’s compositions survive, including ten masses, over 160 motets, 60 secular chansons, and a set of eight Magnificats (one in each mode). The motets on this recording, for 4–6 voices, are all fine representations of Gombert’s musical style.
Arthaus presents “Giselle”, a classical ballet, which, with all its splendour and grace, is generally regarded as the apotheosis of the Romantic ballet. The work premiered in the Salle de la rue Le Peletier at the Paris Opéra in 1841 and is considered the first major plot-based ballet to have survived to the modern day with its original choreography almost intact. In the course of the past century and a half “Giselle” has undergone only a few changes, e.g. by Marius Petipa, who revised the work for his 1887 production at the Maryinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. The performance recorded on this DVD is based on the St Petersburg version and was choreographed by Patrice Bart and Eugène Polyakov, two out-and-out Petipa specialists. The scenery is the work of Alexandre Benois from 1924; originally designed for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, it heralded the re-emergence on Western programmes of the long absent “Giselle” and to this day it remains the benchmark for traditionalist stagings of this ballet. The production was marked by an all-stars cast: Laëtitia Pujol dances the title role, combining her flawless technical skill with a fully developed sense of grace. Nicolas Le Riche, one of international ballet’s most respected stars, created her male counterpart, Albrecht, whose faithlessness drives her insane. Le Riche is famous all over the world for his elegant strength, the beauty of his expression and the musicality of his movements.