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Classical Music Home > Featured Releases - June 2015


Featured Releases - June 2015


Jean SIBELIUS (1865–1957)
Kuolema • King Christian II
Overture in A minor
Two Songs from Twelfth Night

Pia Pajala, Soprano • Waltteri Torikka, Baritone
Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
Leif Segerstam

Naxos 8.573299

Jean Sibelius was the most significant figure in the formation of Finland’s musical identity. Beyond the famous symphonies and tone poems he was prolific in other genres, including music for the theatre. King Christian II and Kuolema ensured Sibelius’s fame throughout Europe, the latter including the haunting melody (track 2) which would later become the Valse triste. The Two Songs from Twelfth Night contrast the spectre of death with more comical moods, an effect also to be heard in one of Sibelius’s least performed orchestral works, the Overture in A minor.

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Paul HINDEMITH (1895–1963)
String Quartets, Vol. 3
String Quartets Nos. 1 & 4

Amar Quartet
Naxos 8.572165

Hindemith’s seven string quartets were produced in different phases of his compositional development, all reflecting the experience of being a distinguished and experienced string player. Influenced both by Brahmsian late-Romanticism and by the catastrophic events of the First World War, the imaginative String Quartet No. 1 reflects his concern to extend but honour traditional forms. Cast in the form of a suite, the by turns tempestuous and beautiful String Quartet No. 4 remains Hindemith’s most popular and performed quartet. This is the third and final volume of a highly acclaimed cycle. ‘As with the previous release in this series, the performances are all outstanding.’ (ClassicsToday.com / 8.572164, Volume 2)


Sofia GUBAIDULINA (b. 1931)
Complete Guitar Works
Repentance1 • Serenade2
Toccata3 • Sotto Voce4

David Tanenbaum, Guitar1-4 • Thomas Viloteau, Guitar II1
Paul Psarras, Guitar III1 • Peter Wyrick, Cello1
Mark Wright, Bass1 • Marc Teicholz, Guitar II4
Jodi Levitz, Viola4 • Scott Pingel, Bass4

Naxos 8.573379

WORLD PREMIÈRE RECORDING

Sofia Gubaidulina has found a soulfulness and freedom in the guitar which speaks to her musical language of expressive mood and often mysterious but precise sonorities. In both Repentance and Sotto Voce she combines guitars with lower stringed instruments, creating a virtuosic, multi-dimensional and deeply poetic role for each voice. Fascinating new sounds from the guitar are produced, from the most eloquent chorales to remarkable effects using a drinking glass. The earlier Serenade is ‘music for pleasure’, while this première recording of the Toccata reveals a work with a driving momentum that hardly stops.

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Boris PIGOVAT (b. 1953)
Holocaust Requiem
Poem of Dawn†

Anna Serova, Viola
Croatian Radio & Television Symphony Orchestra
Nicola Guerini

Naxos 8.572729

WORLD PREMIÈRE RECORDING

Of Ukrainian origin, Boris Pigovat is now based in Israel where he has won several distinguished national awards. His Holocaust Requiem received the ACUM prize in 1995, and was premièred at a concert dedicated to the massacre of Jews at Babi Yar. Each movement is named after the Latin Mass text, the emotional symbols of sorrow, suffering and hope expressed purely instrumentally but led by the ‘human’ voice of the viola. The deliberately Russian Romantic style of Poem of Dawn was especially chosen by the composer for the work’s dedicatee, acclaimed violist Anna Serova.

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Shuya XU (b. 1961)
Nirvana
Insolation • Cristal au Soleil Couchant
Echos du Vieux Champ • Yun*

Shu-ying Li, Soprano* • Qilian Chen, Soprano*
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Gottfried Rabl

Naxos 8.570617

With worldwide acclaim and numerous awards, Shuya Xu is one of the leading composers to emerge from the Chinese ‘New Wave’. His fascination with his Chinese heritage is eloquently expressed in pieces such as Insolation, inspired by the heroic myth of Kaufu Chasing the Sun, and Yun, which unites the famous ‘Purple Bamboo Melody’ with symphonic textures and gestures. Cristal au Soleil Couchant expresses the intensity of light and colours at sundown, while Echos du Vieux Champ conjures nostalgic memories of the composer’s homeland. Shaped by spiritual concepts and the Tibetan landscape, Nirvana evokes the ‘bittersweet pleasure’ of ‘faint distant melodies, like tunes from heaven’.


Quincy PORTER (1897–1966)
String Quartets Nos. 5-8

Ives Quartet
Naxos 8.559781

The generation of composers which proved so influential in mid-twentieth century America included Roger Sessions, Howard Hanson, Roy Harris and Quincy Porter. Porter’s much-admired orchestral music is marked by originality in its absorption of neo-classicism, but his series of nine string quartets also represents an important contribution to the genre. Quartets Nos. 5 to 8 are the works of a composer who had been a professional string player in the 1920s and are marked by rhythmic sophistication and melodic tension. ‘A very enjoyable disc which whets one’s appetite for the remaining five quartets.’ – Penguin Guide on Volume 1 (8.559305).


Kenneth LEIGHTON (1928–1988)
Complete Chamber Works for Cello
Elegy* • Partita* • Sonata
Alleluia Pascha Nostrum*

Raphael Wallfisch, Cello • Raphael Terroni, Piano*
Naxos 8.571358

Kenneth Leighton’s distinctive gifts as a composer were apparent as early as the première of his Cello Concerto, when he was barely 26. It was an instrument for which he wrote with particular subtlety and often from an inner compulsion. The Elegy, Op. 5 is full of brilliance, lyricism and mystery whilst by the time he wrote the rhapsodic and expressive Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 52, his position as one of Britain’s leading composers had long been cemented. The beautiful Alleluia Pascha Nostrum, Op. 85 was first performed by the soloist on this disc, Raphael Wallfisch.

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