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I was asked to compile a list of my favourite recordings of 2012.  It’s like asking a father which of his children he likes best.  But here is the list selected from my Chairman’s Priorities of the year.  Most of these selections have also found favour with critics around the world.  They’re not in order of preference but in order of their release month.

January


8.572243
ROUSSEL Le festin de l’araignée, Padmâvatî – Suites
Royal Scottish National Orchestra • Stéphane Denève

This is the final volume of our project to record the symphonies and most important orchestral works of Roussel. The first four volumes received unanimous critical acclaim. The first disc in the series won a Diapason d’Or de l’annee in 2007 from Diapason magazine, the equivalent, in France, of the Gramophone Record of the Year award. Our recording offers the complete version of The Spider’s Banquet – many other recordings only include the ‘symphonic fragments’ version and the coupling with the less well known Padmâvatî is particularly attractive. An hour’s worth of great music in outstanding performances and great sound.

Also Available:
ROUSSEL Bacchus et Ariane, Symphony No 3 8.570245
ROUSSEL Symphony No 2, Pour une fête de printemps 8.570529
ROUSSEL Symphony No 1, Résurrection 8.570323
ROUSSEL Symphony No 4, Rapsodie flamende 8.572135

8.572694
BRAHMS Choral Music
Ewa Wolak, contralto • Warsaw Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra • Antoni Wit

This is the first volume of our project to record the complete choral/orchestral works of Brahms with Antoni Wit and his Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra. Classics Today said in its review of the Janáček Glagolitic Mass, ‘Truth be told, there are few organizations better equipped to deliver satisfying performances of large choral works than Antoni Wit and his Warsaw forces.’ This is also true of this new recording and I am sure it will rank among the best versions of this repertoire. All of this is serious music and the works are among the best of the composer’s compositions. There is no competition for our compilation – there are several other compilation discs in the market but many also include works without orchestra.

Also Available:
JANÁČEK Glagolitic Mass, Sinfonietta 8.572639


February


8.559705 [CD]
NBD0025 [Blu-ray Audio]
GERSHWIN Concerto in F, Rhapsody No 2,
I’ve Got Rhythm Variations

Orion Weiss, piano • Buffalo Philharmonic • JoAnn Falletta

The existing Naxos recording of the Concerto and the Rhapsody in Blue, featuring Australian pianist Kathy Selby and veteran arranger/conductor Richard Hayman, has been in our catalogue for more than 20 years. It has been one of our best-selling albums of all time, with more than 300,000 copies sold since its release in 1989. Still, I thought it was time to come up with a genuinely American version and I asked JoAnn Falletta to record the complete works for piano and orchestra with her Grammy-winning Buffalo orchestra and award-winning young American pianist, Orion Weiss. This first volume of the two-CD project is a tremendous success – idiomatic performances by both soloist and orchestra and terrific sound. The second volume will include Rhapsody in Blue and the remaining works for piano and orchestra of Gershwin.

8.509002 • 9 CDs
DEBUSSY Complete Orchestral Works [9CD boxed set]
Orchestre National de Lyon • Jun Märkl

Recording the complete original orchestral works and all existing orchestrations has been a labor of love for conductor Jun Märkl, his orchestra and myself. This is the most complete collection ever recorded and also features all the works for solo instrument and orchestra. Most orchestrations are by contemporaries of Debussy but the set also includes the recent orchestrations of the complete Preludes by Colin Matthews. The recordings received widespread critical acclaim and here they are all together on nine CDs.

Collectors should not hesitate – there is no comparable collection in the market today.

Also Available:
DEBUSSY Orchestral Works, Vol 1 8.570759
DEBUSSY Orchestral Works, Vol 2 8.570993
DEBUSSY Orchestral Works, Vol 3 8.572296
DEBUSSY Orchestral Works, Vol 4 8.572297
DEBUSSY Orchestral Works, Vol 5 8.572568
DEBUSSY Orchestral Works, Vol 6 8.572583


March


8.570893
SARASATE Music for Violin and Piano, Vol 3
Tianwa Yang, violin • Markus Hadulla, piano

The complete works for violin and piano and violin and orchestra by Sarasate are one of our most successful projects. There will be another volume each for violin and piano and violin and orchestra. Vol 3 of the complete works for violin and orchestra is among our 20 best-selling recordings in 2011. The whole series is unprecedented and each volume has received equally unprecedented critical acclaim. Great melodies, dazzling virtuosity – there’s nothing like it in the market.

Also Available:
SARASATE Music for Violin and Piano, Vol 1 8.557767
SARASATE Music for Violin and Piano, Vol 2 8.570192
SARASATE Music for Violin and Orchestra, Vol 1 8.572191
SARASATE Music for Violin and Orchestra, Vol 2 8.572216
SARASATE Music for Violin and Orchestra, Vol 3 8.572275

8.572818-19 [2 CDs]
NBD0027 [Blu-ray Audio]

VERDI Complete Ballet Music from the Operas
Bournemouth Symphony • José Serebrier

Everybody knows the ballet music from Aida but very few people have ever heard the ballet music from Il Trovatore, Don Carlos and Jerusalem. Here are 2 hours of tuneful, highly enjoyable music. First-class performances conducted by José Serebrier captured in brilliant sound by producer/engineer Phil Rowlands. Enjoy!


April


8.572695
JANÁČEK Taras Bulba, Lachian Dances, Moravian Dances
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra • Antoni Wit

I have been a great Janáček fan all my life and am delighted that we now have all his most important works in first-class performances and sound on Naxos.

Taras Bulba is one of the great symphonic poems of the 20th century and should be in everybody's collection. The two sets of Dances are as tuneful as those of Dvořák and Brahms. Don't miss this release and also consider the orchestral suites from the composer's six most important operas, arranged and conducted by Peter Breiner.

Also Available :
JANÁČEK Orchestral Suites from the Operas, Vol 1 8.570555
JANÁČEK Orchestral Suites from the Operas, Vol 2 8.570556
JANÁČEK Orchestral Suites from the Operas, Vol 3 8.570706

8.572779
WEINBERG Symphony No 6, Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes
Glinka Choral College Boys' Choir
St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra • Vladimir Lande

We agreed with Chandos to split the project of recording the complete symphonies of Weinberg between us and this is the first installment of the Naxos part of the project. Naxos will record Symphonies Nos. 2, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19 and 22 and Chandos has recorded or will record the remaining 11.

All 11 symphonies will be recorded by the St Petersburg State Symphony, conducted by Vladimir Lande except Symphonies Nos. 8 and 9 which will be recorded by the Warsaw Philharmonic, conducted by Antoni Wit. Symphony No. 6 is scored for very large orchestra and children's choir and has a heart-rending slow movement. The Moldavian Rhapsody is a medley of Moldavian folk tunes, culminating in a joyous and noisy dance. Not to be missed!


May


8.572486
Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945)
Concerto for Orchestra
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra • Marin Alsop

These works are among the most frequently heard compositions of Bartók. They are orchestral showpieces and are performed here by Marin Alsop and her Baltimore Symphony, in top form. First-rate performances and terrific sound!

Companion Titles – BARTÓK
The Miraculous Mandarin (Complete Ballet)  8.557433
Bluebeard’s Castle (Opera in One Act)  8.660928

8.572708
Dmitry SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Symphonies, Vol 7 – No 2 ‘To October’ • No 15

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra • Vasily Petrenko

Here is another installment of our acclaimed new Shostakovich symphony cycle. It couples the early Second Symphony with the composer’s last.
Another winner from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and its Musical Director, Vasily Petrenko.

Companion Titles – SHOSTAKOVICH
Symphonies, Vol 1 – No 11 ‘The Year 1905’  8.572082
Symphonies, Vol 2 – Nos 5 and 9  8.572167
Symphonies, Vol 3 – No 8  8.572392
Symphonies, Vol 4 – No 10  8.572461
Symphonies, Vol 5 – Nos 1 and 3 ‘The First of May’  8.572396
Symphonies, Vol 6 – Nos 6 and 12 ‘The Year 1917’  8.572658

8.572827
NORDIC VIOLIN FAVOURITES
– Works by Atterberg, Stenhammar, Sibelius, Bull, Halvorsen and Sinding

Henning Kraggerud, violin • Dalasinfoniettan • Bjarte Engeset

The soloist Henning Kraggerud came up with this program combining Romantic miniatures by Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish composers. He plays these pieces beautifully, as is to be expected from an artist who received the Norwegian Grieg and Ole Bull prizes and the Sibelius Prize. I cannot imagine a better program for a romantic evening at home.

Companion Titles
NORWEGIAN VIOLIN FAVOURITES  8.554497
SIBELIUS / SINDING Violin Concertos  8.557266
SINDING Music for Violin and Piano, Vol 1  8.572254
SINDING Music for Violin and Piano, Vol 2  8.572255


June


8.573029
Sergey PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Symphony No 5 • The Year 1941

São Paulo Symphony Orchestra • Marin Alsop

This is the first volume of a five-CD project devoted to the Prokofiev symphonies performed by the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop. Marin is the new Principal Conductor of the orchestra. Our previous cycle with the National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine was actually pretty good but its sonics are now outdated. These performances are in every respect superior to the Ukraine performances and the sound is spectacular. This recording will also be released on Blu-ray Audio. An auspicious start for an important new project.

8.572861-62
Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)
A Mass of Life • Prelude and Idyll

Watson • Wyn-Rogers • Kennedy • Opie • The Bach Choir
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra • David Hill

8.572861-62

This recording fills a big gap in our catalogue of English music. Delius composed A Mass of Life at the height of his powers. It is the first new recording of the work in the 21st century and there are very few recordings of the Prelude and Idyll. The conductor, David Hill is renowned as a choral and orchestral conductor and is only the ninth Musical Director of the Bach Choir featured in this recording. The four soloists are outstanding and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is in top form.

First-class sound, also to be released on Blu-ray Audio.

8.572914
Gustav HOLST (1874-1934)
Cotswolds Symphony • Walt Whitman Overture
Indra • Japanese Suite • A Winter Idyll

Ulster Orchestra • JoAnn Falletta

This is the first recording featuring the Ulster Orchestra conducted by JoAnn Falletta, the orchestra’s new Principal Conductor. This disc offers youthful and mid-period Holst and there are very few recordings of these works, and no other recording with the same couplings. Terrific performances and great sound. A must for anybody interested in the byways of English music.


July


8.660312-13 • 2 CDs
Saverio MERCADANTE (1795-1870)
Don Chisciotte alle nozze di Gamaccio

soloists • San Pietro a Majella Chorus, Naples
Czech Chamber Soloists, Brno • Antonino Fogliani

This is another product of our co-operation with the Rossini Festival in Wildbad. Mercadante was a contemporary of Rossini and Donizetti and one of the most productive 19th century operatic composers. Don Chisciotte was written during the composer’s stay in Spain and combines the fashionable Neapolitan style of the day with Spanish folk music elements. The opera is highly entertaining and dramatic and this is the world première recording of the work. Conductor Antonino Fogliani received great critical acclaim for his conducting of Vaccaj’s La sposa di Messina, another rarity from Wildbad and he also conducted a number of Rossini operas for Naxos, part of Naxos’s ongoing project to record and release all of the composer’s operas. Lots of great melodies and enjoyable singing.


August


8.572840
Music from THE ETON CHOIRBOOK
TONUS PEREGRINUS

This has been one of my pet projects for early music for many years. It finally has come to fruition with this wonderful recording by TONUS PEREGRINUS and Antony Pitts. The Eton Choirbook is one of the greatest surviving collection of pre-reformation English music. Our recording includes the earliest polyphonic Passion by a named composer; two heartrending motets; and two thrilling settings of the Magnificat. TONUS PEREGRINUS has been widely acclaimed for its recordings of Dunstable, Gibbons and Arvo Pärt. A must for collectors of Renaissance English choral music!


September


8.573043
Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959)
Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7

São Paulo Symphony Orchestra • Isaac Karabtchevsky

This is the first volume of a new cycle devoted to the complete symphonies of Brazil’s great 20th century composer.

The symphonies are performed by Brazil’s world-class São Paulo Symphony Orchestra under veteran Brazilian conductor, Isaac Karabtchevsky. There’s hardly any competition in this repertoire and none from a Brazilian orchestra. Blockbuster performances in blockbuster sound.

8.572886
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-69)
Symphonie fantastique • Le corsaire – Overture

Orchestre National de Lyon • Leonard Slatkin

Here is the first volume of a project to record the complete works of Berlioz with the Lyon National Orchestra and its new Musical Director Leonard Slatkin.

This is one of the finest performances of the symphony I’ve ever heard. Audiophile-quality sound produced by our Tim Handley. The recording is also available on Blu-ray Audio. We offer collectors a unique bonus – the disc includes an alternative version of the second-movement Un bal with a cornet solo. Give this one a big push so that we will do well with subsequent volumes.

8.572584
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
24 Préludes (orch. Peter Breiner)

Royal Scottish National Orchestra • Jun Märkl

Originally, this was meant to be included in the complete orchestral works. However, Lyon recorded the orchestration by Colin Matthews by mistake. We therefore decided to include that version in the complete set and release our Peter Breiner version separately. We had commissioned the orchestration from Peter.

Critics compared the two versions and thought that Peters orchestrations were closer to the originals than the Colin Matthews versions.

Also Available
DEBUSSY Complete Orchestral Works [9 CDs]
8.509002


October


8.570933
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Complete Overtures, Vol. 1

Prague Philharmonic Choir • Prague Sinfonia Orchestra
Christian Benda

This is the beginning of a project in the making for more than 10 years. There is no complete recording of the overtures in the market at present which means our project will be another first for Naxos. We are using the most up-to-date editions – many other recordings of some of the overtures currently in the market have used substandard editions.

There will be altogether four or five volumes – we are not sure about the playing times yet. Each volume will offer a mixture of well-known and rarely heard overtures.

The overtures are performed by the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra and their conductor Christian Benda, the team that has received tremendous critical acclaim for their recordings of the complete Schubert overtures. This is a winner.

8.570608
TAN Dun (b. 1957)
Symphonic Poem on Three Notes
Orchestral Theatre • Concerto for Orchestra

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra • Tan Dun

This is the first recording of a series devoted to the most important Chinese contemporary composers. Tan Dun is by far the best known of these. Mr. Tan has a high profile in a variety of media. His music has been played throughout the world by leading orchestras and opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera [The First Emperor].  He composed the soundtrack for the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Concerto for Orchestra describes the geographical, musical and spiritual journeys of Marco Polo. Orchestral Theatre centers on memories of rituals from the composer’s childhood. The composer himself conducted the recording which features the Hong Kong Philharmonic in stunning sound produced by Tim Handley. Give this one a big push.


November


8.572887
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Orchestral Works, Vol. 1

Orchestre National de Lyon . Leonard Slatkin

This is the start of a new cycle with Leonard Slatkin conducting the Orchestre National de Lyon. The first disc includes the famous Boléro. Brilliant performances in outstanding sound. Also available on Blu-ray Audio in 24-bit/96 kHz sound.

8.572742
Ferdinand RIES (1784-1838)
Piano Concertos, Volume. 5

Christopher Hinterhuber, piano
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra . Uwe Grodd

This is the final volume of our project to record the complete Ries concertos. This disc offers the first and last of the composer's published concertos. Our series has met with tremendous critical acclaim. The attractive concertos can be placed somewhere between Beethoven and Hummel and are full of brilliant passages and attractive tunes. We have no competition in this repertoire. An absolute must for collectors of piano concertos.

8.572730
Wolfgang RIHM (b. 1952)
Complete Works for Violin and Piano

Tianwa Yang, violin . Nicholas Rimmer, piano

Our star violinist Tianwa Yang has gained worldwide acclaim for her Sarasate recordings. This disc shows that she is not only a virtuoso of the highest rank but also a highly intelligent interpreter of contemporary music. Rihm is probably Germany's foremost living composer and these works employ contemporary techniques while carrying a rich emotional charge. There is no other recording combining the five works on this disc. It is a tour de force by Tianwa.


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