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Respighi: The Birds
Kyler Brown
Chamber Orchestra of New York • Salvatore Di Vittorio

Naxos 8.573168

One of Respighi’s masterpieces, Gli uccelli (The Birds) includes transcriptions of birdsong and music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in writing of evocative, captivating lyricism. Trittico botticelliano, an illustration of three paintings by Botticelli, employs dance rhythms, modal melodies and a variant of the medieval hymn Veni, Veni Emmanuel in deft, often sublime fashion. The Suite in G major, cast for strings and organ in the form of a Concerto grosso, is heard on this première recording in its original edition.


Heggie & Scheer: Out of Darkness
Sarah Larsen • Caitlin Lynch • Morgan Smith
Music of Remembrance • Mina Miller

Naxos 8.559770

In Out of Darkness, Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer accomplish something remarkable. They convey the vastness of the Holocaust’s scope through emotionally rich portraits of those caught in its grasp, without reducing them to caricatures of martyrdom. The three chapters of this work relate stories that offer compelling musical witness to survival in the face of unimaginable adversity. Another Sunrise tells the amazing story of Krystyna ┼╗ywulska who, after being captured as a member of the Polish resistance, created poems and songs in Auschwitz that circulated secretly and became anthems of defiance amongst her fellow prisoners. Farewell, Auschwitz adapts Krystyna’s lyrics, with their exhortations to preserve a sense of humanity in a place defined by inhuman behaviour. The deeply moving song cycle For a Look or a Touch illuminates Nazi persecution of homosexuals, informing historical realities through an intensely intimate story of memory and loss.


Lloyd & Mennin: Piano Works
Myron Silberstein
Naxos 8.559767

Both Norman Lloyd and Peter Mennin were born in Pennsylvania and contributed substantially to music education, though their compositional careers took different paths. Lloyd’s Three Scenes from Memory are simple pieces suitable for elementary students, while the Five Pieces for Dance include music written for Martha Graham. The Sonata is a compelling and convincingly developed abstract work and Lloyd’s most ambitious for piano. Peter Mennin was one of the leading symphonic composers of his generation. His remarkable Sonata for Piano ranks among the great American contributions to the genre. Mennin’s Symphonies Nos. 3 and 7 can be heard on Naxos 8.559718.


Weinberg: Symphony No. 18; Trumpet Concerto
Andrew Balio • St. Petersburg Chamber Choir
St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra • Vladimir Lande

Naxos 8.573190

Mieczysław Weinberg’s Eighteenth Symphony is the centrepiece 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’.


Ysaye: Sonatas for Violin, Op. 27
Tianwa Yang
Naxos 8.572995

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, 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.


Meyerbeer: Overtures and Entr'actes from the French Operas
New Zealand Symphony, Darrell Ang
Naxos 8.573195

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.



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12:54:30 PM, 24 July 2014
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