In 2000 the contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux became the first Canadian to win the First Prize as well as the Special Prize for Lieder at the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition in Belgium. She has recorded for numerous labels, and now enjoys an exclusive contract with the Naïve label, for which she has recorded the title roles in Vivaldi’s operas Griselda and Orlando furioso. Her first recital CD of French mélodies (L’Heure exquise) was much praised by the critics. In 2008 Naïve released a recording of Vivaldi sacred works in which she sings the famous Stabat Mater. This was followed by the same composer’s La fida ninfa. In 2009 Naïve released a recital of Schumann songs with the pianist Daniel Blumenthal and a programme of Vivaldi arias with the Ensemble Matheus under Jean-Christophe Spinosi.
The French label Barclay Records, with which singer/songwriter Jacques Brel was associated for most of the 1960s and '70s, released a compilation of recordings of his songs in March 2004 that differs significantly from this U.S. edition. The French version of Next Brel has 15 tracks to the American 12, but that doesn't mean simply that three tracks have been deleted. In fact, there are six tracks on the French album not found on the American one: "If We Only Have Love," by Dionne Warwick; "Amsterdam," by Anne Watts; "If You Go Away," by Emiliana Torrini; "Next," by Gavin Friday & the Man Seezer; "The Desperate Ones," by Nina Simone; and "Seasons in the Sun," by Terry Jacks (a number one hit in the U.S.). But there are also three tracks on the American album not contained on the French one: "Les Flamandes," by French chanteuse Barbara; "Ne Me Quitte Pas," by Nina Simone; and "My Death," by Scott Walker. The deletions and substitutions make for less repetition of songs on the American album.
While David Linx's name may not be writ large here in the States, the fifty-one year-old singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist is a mega-star in his native Belgium, and in 2005 was named Best Jazz Musician in Europe, which covers a whole lot of territory. On Brel, Linx sings music composed by his Belgian forerunner, the late and legendary Jacques Brel, accompanied by the world-class Brussels Jazz Orchestra (whose personnel are not listed on the bare-bones promotional copy save for saxophonist / music director Frank Vaganee).
Sonic wizard Robin Guthrie (ex-Cocteau Twins) and vocalist Siobhan de Mare (ex-Mono) made up the hazy dream pop of Violet Indiana. Shortly after de Mare was relieved of her Mono duties, she received a phone call from Guthrie, asking her if she'd like to work with him. Unfamiliar with Guthrie's cult status, she asked her sister about him and decided to take him up on the offer. In late 2000, the duo released the Choke EP on Bella Union, the label run by Guthrie and former Cocteau mate Simon Raymonde. Retaining some of Guthrie's trademark characteristics and combining them with de Mare's lazy, confident delivery, the Choke EP established them convincingly enough as something removed from Guthrie's prior band – a tricky thing indeed. 2001's full-length Roulette improved on the promising debut. A singles collection, Casino, followed in early 2002. Russian Doll was the proper follow-up to Roulette, released in June of 2004.