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Chairman’s Choice: Klaus Heymann spotlights some of July’s new releases

July 1, 2014



BERLIOZ Harold en Italie, Le carnaval romain, Benvenuto Cellini: Overture
Berthaud • Lyon National Orchestra • Slatkin
8.573297
Also available on Naxos Blu-ray Audio NBD0042

Drawing on the adventures of Byron’s Childe Harold and the composer’s own Italian experiences as a Prix de Rome winner, Harold en Italie was intended for the great violinist Paganini who, having initially rejected the work, later repented, giving it his highest praise. The brilliant concert overtures Benvenuto Cellini and Le carnaval romain are among Berlioz’s most popular works. Quickly taken up by several celebrated violinists of the time, the elegant Rêverie et Caprice is his only work for solo violin and orchestra. Leonard Slatkin’s Lyon recording of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique (8.572886) has been acclaimed as “quite simply one of the best on disc” by MusicWeb International.



HINDEMITH Nobilissima Visione, 5 Pieces for String Orchestra
Seattle Symphony • Schwarz
8.572763

A series of powerful, largely radical works in the early 1920s saw Hindemith established as Germany’s leading young composer. In 1936 he was asked by choreographer and dancer Léonide Massine to collaborate on a ballet project, and Hindemith proposed scenes from the life of St Francis of Assisi. The resulting ballet, Nobilissima Visione (The Noblest Vision), is a work of lyricism, elegy and majesty. This is the first recording of the complete ballet score, not the three-movement concert suite that Hindemith later extracted. The Five Pieces for String Orchestra is an earlier, spirited work dating from 1927.



MERCADANTE I Briganti
Mironov • Ivanova • Prato • Poznań Camerata Bach Choir • Virtuosi Brunensis • Fogliani
8.660343-44

A highly regarded composer in his day and considered the equal of Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti, Saverio Mercadante pioneered the transformation of bel canto opera into real music drama. He wrote the operatic tragedy I Briganti (The Brigands) not only to prove himself to the Parisian public but as a direct challenge to Bellini’s I puritani, premièred the previous year. Mercadante’s individual style of canto fiorito and distinctive theatricality demonstrate that opera need not be a mere succession of virtuoso vocal arias, and it paved the way for Verdi’s later dramas. Prepared from a new critical edition, this production was described as ‘outstanding’ by The New York Times.



LOUSSIER Violin Concertos Nos 1 and 2
PADEREWSKI Violin Sonata

Kostecki • Iwicki • Hauer • Polish Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra
8.573200

Jacques Loussier achieved immense worldwide popular success combining the music of J.S. Bach and jazz improvisation with his Play Bach Trio. Loussier’s focus has since turned more towards composing, his predilection for fusing jazz and classical elements expressed at its most economical in these two Violin Concertos. Eloquent expressiveness and colourful use of percussion characterise the First Concerto, while the Indian influence in the Second Concerto emerges through violin improvisation and rhythmic counterpoint from the tabla. Like Loussier, Paderewski was a piano virtuoso who turned to composition in later life, the Violin Sonata being one of his finest earlier works.



FAURÉ Piano Quartet No 2, Piano Trio, 3 Romances sans paroles
Kungsbacka Piano Trio • P. Dukes • R. Hosford
8.573223

Gabriel Fauré’s chamber works, long overshadowed by his popular Requiem (Naxos 8.550765), are regaining their rightful place. This new release from the Kungsbacka Piano Trio follows their recording of Fauré’s First Piano Quartet and other chamber works (8.573042), described by Gramophone as ‘a delectable way into Fauré’s chamber music’. The programme features the less frequently heard original version, with clarinet, of the Piano Trio, the Second Piano Quartet, which includes an evocation of the bells of Cadirac near the composer’s home, the Romances sans paroles, described by Marcel Proust as ‘intoxicating’ and one of Fauré’s most famous works, the Berceuse from the Dolly Suite.



ALDRIDGE Parables – An Interfaith Oratorio
Libretto by Herschel Garfein

Univeristy of Minnesota Symphony Orchestra • University of Minnesota Choruses • University Singers • Kathy Saltzman Romey
2.110358

Although he has composed in a number of genres, it’s Robert Aldridge’s operatic music that has grabbed most headlines; Elmer Gantry (8.669032), released by Naxos in 2011, is the work by which Aldridge is best known internationally. Reflecting on the attack on the World Trade Center in September 2001, his Parables is a cantata based on the theme of reconciliation. Featuring an 80-piece orchestra and 200-voice choir, this DVD presentation is enhanced by the introduction of dancers, giving the performance real visual force—with sets, lighting, costumes and projection—in addition to its distinct musical impact.


We hope you will enjoy these selections and more from Naxos Records:

New Releases on naxos.com

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10:54:32 AM, 30 July 2015
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