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A fascinating series of Naxos Classical Music Spotlights is scheduled for May. Eagerly followed by music lovers around the world, these episodes are also invaluable resources for music teachers and students.


7 May – Towards the Flame: Scriabin’s Mystical Piano Music


Xiayin Wang is establishing herself as one of the ‘must watch’ pianists of the young generation. With a new CD of the music of Alexander Scriabin, and a recital at Alice Tully Hall in New York, there is plenty to pay attention to. This Naxos Classical Music Spotlight podcast includes highlights from her new CD, and an interview with Ms. Wang.

SCRIABIN Piano Music—Poemes, Waltzes, Dances
Naxos 8.570412

Numbered among the musical elect of her generation, the multi-award-winning Xiayin Wang presents a recital of piano music that virtually spans Scriabin’s career. The mysterious impressionism of Vers la flamme (Towards the Flame) builds to an exhilarating intensity that is matched by the two contrasting Poems. From his early Waltzes and Polonaise, with their echoes of Chopin, via the rhapsodic abandon of the Fantaisie, to the Two Dances, composed shortly before his death, these works chart an almost mystical trajectory through the composer’s life.

Xiayin Wang Biography & Discography

Alexander Scriabin Biography & Discography


5 May – The Phoenix and the Composer: an Interview with Bright Sheng


Acclaimed composer Bright Sheng discusses the music on his recent release Red Silk Dance, Tibetan Swing, H’UN and The Phoenix. He is an internationally renowned and much awarded composer and performer whose music crosses cultural boundaries.

SHENG The Phoenix, Red Silk Dance, Tibetan Swing, H'un (Lacerations)
Shana Blake Hill, soprano • Bright Sheng, piano • Seattle Symphony Orchestra • Gerard Schwarz, conductor
Naxos American Classics 8.559610

The Phoenix, co-commissioned by the Seattle Symphony and Danish National Symphony Orchestra, was inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen tale, the mythical bird symbolizing for Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng “the muse of all peoples.” Aggressive fervor seeks meditative peace in H’un: In memoriam 1966–1976, hailed by The New YorkTimes as “a searing portrait of the Cultural Revolution in China…deeply affecting.” Sheng’s exquisite Spring Dreams, Three Fantasias and Tibetan Dance are available on Naxos 8.570601. China Dreams and Nanking Nanking can be heard on Naxos 8.555866.

Bright Sheng Biography & Discography

Seattle Symphony Orchestra Biography & Discography

Gerard Schwarz Biography & Discography


5 May – Montréal’s Mighty Organ: Vincent Boucher Plays Tournemire


An introduction to the king of instruments—the pipe organ—with Vincent Boucher at the keyboard of the Cassavant organ, at the Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste, one of the largest churches in Montréal.  In this interview, he talks about how this grand instrument works, with demonstrations of its different sound possibilities of this grand instrument.  

Vincent Boucher is one of the most promising Canadian organists of his generation. In November 2000, Vincent won the First Prize at the John-Robb Competition of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, the oldest competition of its kind in Canada. He has also won the prestigious European Prize from the Academy of Music of Quebec, which has not been awarded to an organist for 34 years. Vincent has toured Canada, France and Austria, and has been heard several times on Radio-Canada. With the European prize under his belt, he has recently been able to work with Pierre Pincemaille in Paris on improvisation and composition. He is currently the joint Casavant organist at the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church in Montréal.

Vincent Boucher plays music by Charles Tournemire (ATMA ACD2 2470)

Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste website

Naxos Organ Encyclopedia
Enjoy dozens of outstanding organ recordings in this great Naxos series.


12 May – Schütz’s Passion: an Interview with Paul Hillier



Photographer: Benjamin Ealovega
Renowned conductor Paul Hillier talks about Heinrich Schütz’s Lukas-Passion. Although German-born, Heinrich Schütz was Kapellmeister for King Christian IV of Denmark and wrote many of his great works while living in Denmark. 

SCHÜTZ Lukas-Passion (St Luke Passion)
Johan Linderoth, tenor (Evangelist) • Jakob Bloch Jespersen, bass (Jesus) • Ars Nova Copenhagen • Paul Hillier, conductor
DACAPO 8.226019

Ars Nova Copenhagen and Paul Hillier here present the first recording in a series devoted to the narrative works (Historia) of Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672). The Danish vocal ensemble thus celebrate Denmark’s proud connection with this German master who was appointed Kapellmeister to King Christian IV and worked at the Danish court for two periods over the course of eleven years. The cover illustrations show reliefs in beaten metal by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976), a member of the Die Brücke group founded in 1905 in Dresden–a city with which Schütz himself was closely associated.

Heinrich Schütz Biography & Discography

Paul Hillier Biography & Discography

Ars Nova Copenhagen Biography & Discography


12 May – Dark Side of the Moon: the Music of Klaus Ib Jørgensen



Photographer:
Philippe Gontier
Includes an interview with conductor Paul Hillier about the unique musical world of Danish composer Klaus Ib Jørgensen, who is currently composer-in-residence with the Canadian ensemble Aventa (2008-10).

JØRGENSEN: Moon-pain, Goblin Dance,
Lisbon Revisited

Iris Oja, mezzo soprano • klettWood • Remix Ensemble • Paul Hillier, conductor
DACAPO 8.226505

In his most important work to date, the song cycle Moon-pain (2003-8) for mezzo-soprano and chamber ensemble, Klaus Ib Jørgensen (b. 1967) has set the moonlit, dreaming poems of the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) to music that is both beautiful and disturbing. The six movements of the work are interwoven here with two other, related compositions: Goblin Dance (2005) for clarinet and piano, and Lisbon Revisited (2008)–a soundscape from the streets of Lisbon, a poem by Pessoa in a variety of languages, and fragments of the Moon-pain music. This is the sound of the maternity ward of this poetry.

Klaus Ib Jørgensen Biography & Discography

Paul Hillier Biography & Discography


19 May – Bohemian Rhapsodies: orchestral suites from Janáček’s operas


Peter Breiner talks about creating orchestral suites from the operas of Leoš Janáček. Peter Breiner is a Canadian-Slovak composer, conductor, pianist and arranger. He is known internationally for a multiplicity of recordings, broadcasts, telecasts and concert appearances.

JANÁČEK Operatic Orchestral Suites Vol 1 (arr. P Breiner)
– Jenůfa / The Excursions of Mr Brouček

Vesa-Matti Leppänen, violin • New Zealand Symphony Orchestra • Peter Breiner, conductor
8.570555 

The operas of Leoš Janáček have been gaining their rightful place in major opera houses the world over. First staged in 1904, Jenůfa, a powerful tragedy set in a Moravian village, launched Janáček’s operatic career. The Excursions of Mr Brouček, which had its première in 1920, is his most candidly satirical opera, rich in high jinks as the bumptious Prague publican travels to the moon and back to the 15th century. Peter Breiner, who created the compelling orchestral suites heard on this disc, conducts these world première

JANÁČEK Operatic Orchestral Suites Vol 2 (arr. P Breiner)
- Kat'a Kabanová / The Makropulos Affair

Vesa-Matti Leppänen, violin • New Zealand Symphony Orchestra • Peter Breiner, conductor
8.570556

Following the release of their stunning recording of Janáček’s Operatic Orchestral Suites, Vol. 1 (Jenůfa, The Excursions of Mr Brouček) on 8.570555, Peter Breiner conducts his insightful suites from two popular Janáček operas—Kát’a Kabanová and The Makropulos Affair—with New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Vesa-Matti Leppänen again playing a featured role. Czechoslovakian-born Breiner is ideally placed to interpret the music of his innovative compatriot.

Leoš Janáček Biography & Discography

Peter Breiner (artist) Biography & Discography

Peter Breiner (composer) Biography & Discography

Vesa-Matti Leppänen Biography & Discography

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Biography & Discography


26 May – Wild Nights!  Exciting New Music for Wind Ensemble


Interview with University of Kansas Wind Ensemble conductor Scott Weiss about their new release in the Naxos Wind Band Classics series.  The University of Kansas Wind Ensemble is the leading wind band at the University of Kansas and enjoys an outstanding reputation both nationally and internationally.

Wild Nights! – TICHELI, DZUBAY, BRYANT, ETEZADY, MACKEY
Vince Gnojek, soprano saxophone • University of Kansas Wind Ensemble • Scott Weiss, conductor
8.572129

The University of Kansas Wind Ensemble offers musically enriching and artistically outstanding performances of the finest wind band repertoire. Following Redline Tango (8.570074), the Ensemble here presents a diverse selection of 21st-century music which takes its name from multi-award-winning Ticheli’s exuberant Wild Nights! Mackey’s Soprano Saxophone Concerto pays tribute to his teacher Corigliano’s Clarinet Concerto, the instrumentation of its inner movements matching their titles: ‘Felt’, ‘Metal’ and ‘Wood’. Etezady’s Anahita was inspired by William Morris Hunt’s depiction of the beautiful and terrifying Zoroastrian night goddess, Dzubay’s Shadow Dance elaborates on Pérotin’s famous medieval organum Viderunt Omnes, while Bryant’s chorale-like Dusk is illuminated by the fiery hues of sunset.


APRIL 2009 EPISODES


During April, the following episodes were broadcast and are still available online:

7 April – An Interview with Conductor JoAnn Falletta

14 April – Daron Hagen’s Opera Shining Brow

21 April – An Interview with Composer Mark Grey

28 April –Telemann, Fantasies for Solo Violin

Visit the Naxos Blog for more exciting episodes

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