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APRIL 2015
Couperin: Les Nations
Juilliard Baroque
Naxos 8.573347-48

Although Couperin is best known today as a composer of harpsichord music, he remained deeply involved in chamber music throughout his career. Les Nations is a vast project in which the virtues of both the French and Italian styles are set next to each other. Each of the four ordres celebrates a Catholic power of Europe, France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and the Savoy dynasty of Piedmont, and each is a combination of an Italianate trio sonata with its free-form virtuosity and a large-scale and elaborate French dance suite. Juilliard Baroque brings together some of the world’s most respected and accomplished early music instrumentalists.


Webern: Vocal and Chamber Works
Tony Arnold • Claire Booth • Jacob Greenberg • Orion Weiss
Sooyun Kim • Charles Neidich • Leila Josefowicz
Simon Joy Chorale • Fred Sherry String Quartet
Philharmonic Orchestra • Robert Craft

Naxos 8.557516

Purity of sound and perfect craftsmanship marked Webern’s journey from his intensely expressive early songs through to the new perspectives cultivated in his Opp. 23 and 25 settings. Webern ‘rehabilitated the power of sound’ and in so doing broke new ground in the Bagatelles for string quartet and in the String Quartet, Op. 28. This recording is rounded off with the powerful Cantata, Op. 29 and Webern’s 1923 arrangement of Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony, Op. 9. This release completes Robert Craft’s second Webern cycle.


Saint-Saens: Symphonies, Vol. 2
Malmö Symphony Orchestra • Marc Soustrot
Naxos 8.573139

Inspired by Liszt, to whose memory the work is dedicated, Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 is ground-breaking in its inclusion of organ and piano. For the composer this represented ‘the progress made in modern instrumentation’ and the result is a work both spectacular and grandiose. By contrast the Symphony in A, his first completed symphony, is a youthful piece, fully revealing his admiration for Mozart, whilst Le rouet d’Omphale, dating from the 1870s, is an impressively atmospheric tone poem. Symphonies Nos. 1 and2 are available on 8.573138.


Handel: Eight Keyboard Suites, Vol. 2
Philip Edward Fisher
Naxos 8.573397

Although Handel is not known for his keyboard music today, he was a gifted performer who astonished his contemporaries with his mastery of the instrument. First published in 1720, the ‘eight great suites’ contain some of Handel’s most beautiful music and were immensely popular in their time. These final four suites illuminate not only his melodic gifts and dramatic flair, but his ability to unify a variety of forms and styles into a complete and magnificent whole. The first of this two volume set, acclaimed by Fanfare magazine for ‘its often assured and inspired playing’, is available on Naxos 8.572197.


Great Comedy Overtures
Royal Scottish National Orchestra • Lance Friedel
Naxos 8.573418

The flourishing genre of the comic opera had its roots in eighteenth-century Italian opera buffa, whose irrepressible brio was soon taken up outside the country’s borders. In France it produced opéra comique and operetta, and in German-speaking countries Spieloper and Viennese operetta. Some of the world’s most popular comic opera overtures, filled with gorgeous tunes, brilliant orchestration and race-to-the-finish endings, are presented here. They include staples of the concert repertoire such as Hérold’s dramatic Zampa, the textual delicacy of Wolf-Ferrari’s Il segreto di Susanna and the vivid colour of Lortzing’s Zar und Zimmermann.


Ekanayaka: Reinventions
Tanya Ekanayaka
Grand Piano Overtone GP693

Tanya Ekanayaka is one of Sri Lanka’s foremost pianists and an internationally acclaimed composer. Her ‘deeply autobiographical’ piano compositions, or reinventions, introduce a novel and hybrid musical genre that takes a wide variety of Sri Lankan melodies—ancient, folk and popular—and blends them with motifs inspired by the tonal centres of established classical compositions by Bach, Beethoven, Ravel and others.


Jaberi: The Bab
Afshin Jaberi
Grand Piano GP694

Iranian composer Afshin Jaberi’s powerful music combines 19th-century western piano traditions with eastern melodic influences. It is strongly connected with the message of equality and peaceful unity promoted by his religious faith. The Báb Ballades depict dramatic heroism and tragic sacrifice, while the Sonatas express the horrors of war and the fragility of remote cultures, out of which new hope and the chance for reconciliation can emerge.



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9:02:15 PM, 25 April 2015
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