[ Harmonia Mundi / CD/Book ]
Release Date: Friday 23 February 2018
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Raphaël Pichon has invited Stéphane Degout to make his recording debut for harmonia mundi in a multifaceted exploration of the Underworld. The French baritone reincarnates the figure of Henri Larrivée, the famous tragedian of Rameau and Gluck. Around a reconstruction of an imaginary Mass of the Dead, sacred and secular merge, revealing some of the most extraordinary pieces from the operatic repertory of the Enlightenment. Music of death and mourning on an epic scale that inspires Pygmalion to overwhelming heights of pathos.
A graduate of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon and member of the Atelier Lyrique de l'Opéra de Lyon, Stéphane Degout quickly came to international attention in his debut as Papageno at the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence. Since then, he has appeared on the world's major operatic stages, namely the Opera de Paris, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Opéra Comique, Berlin Staatsoper, La Monnaie, Theater an der Wien, Royal Opera House, Lyric Opera Chicago, Metropolitan Opera, the Teatro alla Scala and the Bayerische Staatsoper. His numerous festival appearances include Salzburg, Glyndebourne, Aix-en-Provence, Edinburgh, Tokyo and Los Angeles.
Raphaël Pichon began his musical training at the Maîtrise des Petits Chanteurs de Versailles and went on to study singing, the violin and the piano at the Paris Conservatoires (CRR, CNSMDP). As a young countertenor he sang under the direction of Jordi Savall, Gustav Leonhardt, Ton Koopman, and Geoffroy Jourdain with whom he performed contemporary works. In 2006 he founded the ensemble Pygmalion, which combines a choir and a period instrument orchestra. The ensemble's repertoire is nurtured by the filiations that link Bach to Mendelssohn, Schütz to Brahms, and Rameau to Gluck and Berlioz. Along with this group - now an associate ensemble at the Opéra de Bordeaux - he is invited to appear at leading festivals, where he has attracted attention with his interpretations of the sacred music of Bach and the tragédies lyriques of Rameau.
"If you thought that Wagner and Verdi were the first composers whose operas sounded really powerful, this new recording should make you think again. There's plenty of thunder and fury here to equal even the Solti recording of Thor's hammer marking the entry to Valhalla in Rheingold. Whether you are new to the wonderful world of baroque opera or an old hand, this new recording is a must. Newcomers especially will find it an excellent starting point to explore the repertoire." MusicWeb Recording of the Month March 2018
"Pichon is riveting, and his musicianship is precocious…[He] possesses the rare facility to mix raw muscle with the subtlest caresses…In the infernal symphonies that pepper Enfers, the band attacks the score with an almost fiendish ferocity…Don't miss this rollercoaster ride through the underworld!" Five Stars BBC Music
"A full-blooded, idiosyncratic concept album created from infernal slivers of baroque and early classical French opera...everything here sounds deliciously spine-chilling, from the growls and twangs of Pygmalion's period instruments to Degout's throbbing anguish." The Times
"Degout rises splendidly to the climax of 'Monstre affreux' from Dardanus...The Pygmalion chorus comes into its own in sections of the Requiem...Forget the 'end of time' conceit and marvel at the music, so winningly performed by Pygmalion and Raphaël Pichon." Gramophone Editor's Choice May 2018