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CURRENT, B.: Airline Icarus [Opera]
Huhtanen, Szabó, G. Thomson, Dobson, Sirett, Current
Naxos 8.660356

Leading young Canadian composer Brian Current, recipient of numerous distinguished international prizes, has collaborated with award-winning writer Anton Piatigorsky in an exciting work for voice and accompanying ensemble. Airline Icarus is set aboard an airliner in which, taking the myth of Icarus as the central image, the composer “explores themes of hubris mixed with technology”. The result is a powerful, resonant work which won Current the Italian Premio Fedora Award in 2011.


Choral Concert (Christmas): Elora Festival Singers (The Wonder of Christmas)
Naxos 8.573421

The Elora Festival Singers, conducted by internationally acclaimed director Noel Edison, is one of the most exciting of contemporary choirs. Their disc of Eric Whitacre’s choral music (8.559677) was nominated for a GRAMMY® in 2010. Now they turn to the art of the Christmas carol, a genre covering a variety of styles, both popular and refined, each piece expressing religious sentiments and beliefs. The music ranges from much-loved settings to new works, from polyphony to more straightforward melodies, in a recital stretching from the Middle Ages to the music of today.


DOHNÁNYI, E.: Piano Quintets Nos. 1 and 2
Wallisch, Ensō String Quartet
Naxos 8.570572

Few composers have achieved greater success with their first published composition than Ernő Dohnányi with his Piano Quintet in C minor, Op. 1. Written in 1895 and praised highly by Brahms, who is believed to have organised a Viennese performance shortly afterwards, it heralded the emergence of a major new talent. The harmonic ambiguity of the 1914 Piano Quintet in E flat minor points to the composer’s awareness of ongoing developments in European music. Still underestimated, it ranks among the most important works of Dohnányi’s ‘middle period’.


Wind Band Music - DOOLEY, P. / DANYEW, S. / MAGNUSON, R.D. / MCALLISTER, S. / HIGDON, J. (Point Blank)
Illinois State University Wind Symphony
Naxos 8.573334

Each of these five contemporary American pieces for wind band, performed by one of the country’s leading ensembles, explores its own very personal soundscape. Paul Dooley delves into the world of Drum & Bass with electronically inspired orchestrations, whilst for Steve Danyew the exploration of counterpoint is paramount. In composer Roy David Magnuson’s own words, Innsmouth, Massachusetts—1927 is ‘pulpy horror music’ which depicts a night in H.P. Lovecraft’s terrifying The Shadow Over Innsmouth. In contrast, Scott McAllister’s Gone is meditative and prayerful. Pulitzer and GRAMMY® prizewinner Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto is heard here in its arrangement for wind ensemble.


MeiYi Foo, Yoori Choi, Jin Hyung Lim, Toca Loca, McGill Percussion Ensemble, Aiyun Huang
Naxos 8.573303

Drawing inspiration from Bach’s Chorales and Two Part Inventions and two of Schumann’s piano cycles, the works on this recording create fresh and unique sound worlds from a variety of percussion and keyboard instruments such as tubular bells, crotales, prepared piano, celesta and toy piano. “The five solo and chamber works collected here span a period of seven years, from 2006 to 2013, and illustrate the significance of keyboard and percussion instruments in my music throughout this period. The enigmatic reference to ‘JSB’ (Johann Sebastian Bach) and ‘RS’ (Robert Schumann) underlines the importance of pre-existent music or ‘source material’ in most of my works since the mid-1990s.” – Chris Paul Harman


FIBICH, Z.: Orchestral Works, Vol. 4 - Overtures / Hedy: Ballet Music
Czech National Symphony, Štilec
Naxos 8.573310

This fourth volume in the first complete recording of the orchestral works of Zdeněk Fibich features shorter orchestral works and occasional pieces for theatre projects. They include the evocative overture A Night at Karlštejn Castle, the Mendelssohnian overture to the incidental music for The Jew of Prague, as well as the witty and elegant ballet music from the opera Hedy. Specially prepared from original sources for this recording by Marek Štilec, the four Tableaux vivants (‘staged pictures’) reflect a 19th-century Central European fashion for staged pieces, including fanfares, majestic ceremony and regal splendour, not intended to outlive their immediate purpose.


BECK, F.I.: Symphonies, Op. 4, Nos. 4-6 and Op. 3, No. 5
Czech Chamber Philharmonic, Pardubice, Štilec
Naxos 8.573249

The court at Mannheim, one of Europe’s great eighteenth-century musical centres, provided myriad opportunities for creative development. Having absorbed the ideas of his teacher, Johann Stamitz, and of other luminaries, Beck wrote a series of symphonies notable for their dramatic contrasts, breadth and sweep, the progressive inclusion of woodwinds and a willingness to explore expressive intensity. Further Beck Symphonies may be heard on Naxos 8.553790, 8.554071, 8.570799 and 8.573248.


DI MARINO, R.: Bandoneon Concerto / PIAZZOLLA, Á.: Oblivion / 5 Tango Sensations
Chiacchiaretta, Croatian Philharmonic, Vaupotić
Naxos 8.573315

The bandoneon is a type of concertina which has been an essential part of traditional tango ensembles for the past century. Award-winning Italian composer Roberto Di Marino explores the breathtakingly virtuoso and sensual qualities of this distinctive instrument in his Concerto, with its driving syncopated rhythms and melodies which tug at the heartstrings. Ástor Piazzolla singlehandedly created the ‘nuevo tango’ genre, and his haunting Oblivion is one of his most intensely expressive creations in this style. He described the Five Tango Sensations as “a musical farewell to life”.



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8:58:50 PM, 27 December 2014
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