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Naxos Blu-ray NBD0051
Die Walküre
Stuart Skelton; Heidi Melton; Petra Lang; Matthias Goerne; Michelle DeYoung; Falk Struckmann; Katherine Broderick; Laura Nykänen; Karen Foster; Okka von der Damerau; Aurhelia Varak; Anna Burford; Sarah Castle; Elaine McKrill; Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra; Jaap van Zweden
Naxos 8.660394-97

Launched by its prologue Das Rheingold (8660374-75), Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) - one of the supreme works in the history of music - continues with Die Walküre. Part II of the tetralogy centres on the young lovers Siegmund and Sieglinde, whose relationship angers Ficka, goddess of marriage, and on the disobedience of the Valkyrie Brünnhilde who is sent to carry out Fricka’s wishes. Performed by an all-star international cast, the work features thrilling set-pieces such as Wotan’s Farewell and the Ride of the Valkyries.

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Missa Carolae and Christmas Carols
Daryl Robinson; Eric Rieger; Westminster Williamson Voices; James Jordan
Naxos 8.573715

James Whitbourn is a Grammy® nominated composer whose music is internationally admired for its direct connection with performers and audiences, The Observer describing him as "a truly original communicator in modern British choral music." Carolae is a fusion of the great Christmas traditions at King’s College Cambridge and Princeton University Chapel, with the Missa Carolæ at its heart. Whitbourn’s love of medieval musical language is reflected in his clever use of original melody with famous carols such as Noël Nouvelet, combined with skillful new arrangements of seasonal favorites such as The Coventry Carol.

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L’épreuve villageoise
Sophie Junker; Thomas Dolié; Francisco Fernandez-Rueda; Talise Trevigne; Opera Lafayette Orchestra and Chorus; Ryan Brown
Naxos 8.660377

L’épreuve villageoise – which, in its original form, was first performed before Marie Antoinette at Versailles - was one of André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry’s most popular works. For a century after its 1784 premiere it enjoyed huge acclaim across Europe and even travelled to the New World, where it captivated audiences in New York. Grétry was a master of eighteenth-century opéra comique and his crisp and lively farce centres on a clever farmer’s daughter and her two competing suitors. Employing divergent stylistic registers – finesse and naiveté, music reminiscent of popular song, and extended ensembles – Grétry fashioned a score of sophisticated wit and huge charm.

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My First Christmas
Naxos 8.578340

Can you imagine Christmas without music? No singing, no jingling. Only Scrooge would be happy with that! It is a time for music to fill the air. Part of the fun is hearing things that are only played at Christmas and at no other time of year - carols that make you think of the end of term, or the holidays or bobble hats - songs that make you think of food, or snow, or stockings. Here are some of the most popular carols, as well as some other surprises...Merry Christmas!

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Naxos Blu-ray NBD0052-54
La traviata • Rigoletto • Tosca
Plácido Domingo; Catherine Malfitano; Ruggero Raimondi;
Eteri Gvazava; Rolando Panerai; Juli Novikova;
Vittorio Grigolo; Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI; Zubin Mehta

Naxos 2.110374-77

This product has absolutely no rivals. The three unique productions were the fruit of Andrea Anderman’s vision to perform and film Verdi’s La traviata and Rigoletto, and Puccini’s Tosca at the actual places and hours of the day specified in the libretti, namely in Paris, Mantua and Rome respectively. The singers were acting and singing live on location while conductor Zubin Mehta and the orchestra performed miles away in a studio, connected to the singers only by monitors and hidden speakers. The project involved some of the most complex audio-visual operations ever attempted. The results garnered prestigious Emmy, Prix d’Italia and Bafta awards and remain unsurpassed milestones for the genre of operatic film. The star casts include Plácido Domingo, Julia Novikova, Vittorio Grigolo, Ruggero Raimondi, Catherine Malfitano, José Cura and Eteri Gvazava. The performances are delivered in luxurious boxed sets as Blu-ray audio (3 discs) or video (4 DVDs). The accompanying 160-page, hard cover book provides background information on the productions, plus a lavish photo collection.

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Violin Concertos Nos. 3-5, Adagio in E, K.261
Henning Kraggerud; Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
Naxos 2.110368

Despite the limitations of life in his Salzburg birthplace - and the patronage of a new and somewhat unsympathetic Prince-Archbishop - opportunities nevertheless presented themselves to Mozart. Following a commission for Il re pastore in 1775, he wrote a sequence of violin concertos that reveal his own performer’s understanding of the instrument. The concertos are suffused with elegance and refinement and charged with vivacity and wit. His mastery of solo violin cantilena is matched by prodigious melodic invention and moments of exotic colour, such as the Turkish episode in the Rondeau finale of K.219.

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Chopin Dreams • Seven Thoughts Considered As Music • Chopin Puzzles
Carlo Grante
Naxos 8.559805

Composer, educator, performer, and author Bruce Adolphe has a close affinity to the piano, and he acknowledges the transformative influence of Chopin on the way the instrument has been perceived right up to the present. Chopin Dreams places the Romantic master firmly into modern times, building on his models and imagining him as a jazz pianist or exploring what he might have played at a Bar-Mitzvah. The Chopin Puzzlers take Chopin’s style and mixes it into what Dick Hyman has called “the wittiest and funniest musical parodies imaginable.” Seven Thoughts Considered as Music vividly depicts profound and provocative statements from the past in a philosophical and sometimes explosive musical journey

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Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker
New York City Ballet Orchestra; Fairchild; de Luz; Hendrickson; Clark; Lacour; Muller
C Major 738608

Experience the wonder of New York City Ballet’s iconic holiday classic on the big screen. In George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky’s beloved melodies transport the young and young at heart to a magical world where mischievous mice besiege a battalion of toy soldiers, and an onstage blizzard leads to an enchanted Land of Sweets. Balanchine’s stunning choreography shines amidst awe-inspiring set pieces, ornate costumes, and grand one-of-a-kind visual effects, like the one-ton Christmas tree that grows to an astonishing 40 feet. NYCB’s beloved production has been performed in New York City every year since its premiere on February 2, 1954, and is seen live by more than 100,000 people annually.

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Chroma - Grace - Takademe - Revelations
American Dance Theater Ailey
C Major 738408

This release gives listeners a chance to witness an iconic masterpiece of American dance. Alvin Ailey's Revalations has been described by The New york Times as "one of the great works of the human spirit." This stunning, soulful tour de foce draws on African-American spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues. The wide-ranging influences and irrepressible passion of Revalations are evident across the rest of this electrifying program, which features Wayne McGregor's sumptuous Chroma, set to a score by Joby Talbot with orchestrations of songs by The White Stripes, Ronald K. Brown's Grace, a powerful meeting of modern and West African dance with a soundtrack by Duke Ellington, Roy Davis and Fela Kuti and Robert Battle's humorous, high-flying Takadem.

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