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The May 2014 issue of New On Naxos presents our monthly spotlight release: the highly anticipated recording of Eugène Ysaÿe's Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op. 27 performed by Tianwa Yang.

Other highlights include: Weinberg's Symphony No. 18 'War - there is no word more cruel' performed by Andrew Balio, the St. Petersburg Chamber Choir and the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Lande; the box set of Grieg's complete orchestral works, performed by the Malmö Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, conducted by Bjarte Engeset; Overtures and entr'actes from Meyerbeer's French operas, with Darrell Ang directing the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra; and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ chamber opera The Lighthouse.

Watch our monthly New on Naxos video to sample some of the highlight releases of the month.

This Month's Highlights

Naxos 8.572995
Eugène YSAŸE (1858–1931)
Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op. 27

Tianwa Yang, Violin

Eugène Ysaÿe was a towering figure in the history of the violin. He also composed a number of important works, most inspirationally the cycle of Six Sonatas for Solo Violin, which rank among the greatest and most demanding of the twentieth century. Each is dedicated to a fellow violinist and friend [indicated below], whose style of performance and musical preoccupations they reflect. Echoes of Bach are present, as are dance motifs, and virtuoso figuration, reflecting the eminence of the dedicatees.

Naxos 8.573190
Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996)
Symphony No. 18
‘War – there is no word more cruel’
Trumpet Concerto

Andrew Balio, Trumpet • St Petersburg Chamber Choir
St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra • Vladimir Lande

Mieczysław Weinberg’s Eighteenth Symphony is the centerpiece of his symphonic trilogy On the Threshold of War, which focusses on the traumas of the Soviet Union in World War II and stands as one of the most significant creations of his later years. Using texts by important Soviet poets, the work reflects on war with eloquent expressive power. The Trumpet Concerto is amongst Weinberg’s most substantial and diverse works from the 1960s. Ranging in effects from pointillist modernism to the grotesque and sardonic, it was described by Shostakovich as a ‘symphony for trumpet and orchestra’.

Naxos 8.508015 [8 CDs]
Edvard GRIEG (1843–1907)
GRIEG Complete Orchestral Works

Malmö Symphony Orchestra • Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Bjarte Engeset

This boxed set of Grieg’s complete orchestral works is a celebration of the composer’s rich and multi-faceted aesthetic. Grieg was an idealistic humanist whose music and writings underlined a harmony between humans and nature. The sense of nostalgia and ‘postcard lyricism’ often associated with him belies the wild energy also present in his music – its primeval force, pessimistic emotions and tempestuous Romanticism. Thanks to Bjarte Engeset’s carefully researched and widely admired performances, Grieg’s complex musical universe can here be appreciated in full.

Naxos 8.573195
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864)
Overtures and Entr’actes from the
French Operas

Robert le Diable • L’Etoile du Nord • Les Huguenots
L’Africaine • Dinorah • Le Prophète

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra • Darrell Ang

Giacomo Meyerbeer’s eminence as an operatic composer was such that the works he wrote for the Paris Opéra between 1831 and 1865 – Robert le Diable, Les Huguenots, L’Africaine and Le Prophète – were among the most spectacular and popular, well into the twentieth century. These overtures and orchestral pieces illustrate the power of Meyerbeer’s writing, his sense of drama, his orchestral colouring, and his melodic beauty. L’Etoile du Nord and Dinorah, written for the Opéra Comique, are lighter in tone, but notable for their programmatic inventiveness.

Naxos 8.660354
Sir Peter MAXWELL DAVIES (b. 1934)
The Lighthouse
A chamber opera in a prologue and one act
Music and Libretto by the composer

Part 1: Prologue
The Court of Enquiry
Part 2: Act
The Cry of the Beast • Blaze’s Song • Sandy’s Song • Arthur’s Song

Members of the BBC Philharmonic
(Neil Mackie, Tenor • Christopher Keyte, Baritone • Ian Comboy, Bass)
Maxwell Davies

On a routine tour of duty in December 1900 the supply ship Hesperus discovered the Flannan Isles lighthouse in the Outer Hebrides to be empty, the three keepers apparently having disappeared into thin air. Peter Maxwell Davies’ haunting and thrilling chamber opera The Lighthouse is heard here in its classic première recording. It shows what might have become of the three men, marooned in their storm-bound tower and overwhelmed by ghostly visions and crazed desperation, creating a dramatic imagining of a story which remains a mystery to this day.

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12:18:14 AM, 2 December 2015
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