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Klaus Heymann’s Best of Naxos 2010 List

December 16, 2010

Every year I am asked which of our releases I consider the best of the year. It’s like asking a father which of his children he loves best—and in 2010 mother Naxos produced more than 200 children! Nevertheless, I will give it a try. The releases chosen are not necessarily the best but they are recordings that have a special meaning for me because I was closely involved in them in one way or another, or because I feel particularly close to the music.

I went through our release plan month by month and here are my picks, in order of release month:

 

January

KRAUS Orchestral Excerpts from the opera Aeneas in Carthage
8.570585

We had originally planned to record the complete opera but could not find a way to do it affordably—without cuts the opera lasts for about six hours and has a huge cast. Kraus is not called the Swedish Mozart for nothing—it is music that can stand comparison with the finest operas of Mozart. When we had to abandon the idea of recording the complete opera I decided to record at least all the orchestral excerpts.


February

SPOHR Concertante Works for Two Violins & Orchestra
8.570840

I am very fond of Spohr—we are still working on the complete string quartets and in the early years of our Marco Polo label my wife had made the first ever recordings of the composer’s 7th and 12th concertos. Surprisingly, this recording of the two Concertante works became one of our bestselling recordings in 2010.


March

ROUSSEL Symphony No. 4/Orchestral Works
8.572135

I picked Volume 4 of our project to record the complete symphonies and orchestral works by this unjustly neglected contemporary of Ravel (they died in the same year). The recordings by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra with Stephane Denève conducting deserve all the critical praise they received.


MA SICONG Music for Violin & Piano Volume 2
8.570605

I have a soft spot for the tuneful compositions by this pioneer of Western classical music in China. Much of the music uses themes from Chinese folk music.


April

ARNOLD Pollyanna (or Polly)
8.660241

This recording of a score published by our subsidiary Artaria Editions is a real discovery—it is as entertaining as The Beggar’s Opera by Gay from the same period.


May

DVOŘÁK Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8
8.572112

These are two of my favourite symphonies and Marin Alsop does full justice to these wonderful scores.


June

HAYDN Nikolai Mass/Nelson Mass
8.572123

This was one of our more risky projects—doing the complete Haydn Masses with an American period-instrument group, relatively unknown soloists and an American church choir. But the gamble paid off and it is now among the finest versions of these two Haydn masses in the market.


BECK Symphonies Op. 3, Nos. 1–4
8.570799

When my partner in Artaria Editions, Allan Badley, suggested recording the complete symphonies of Franz Ignaz Beck, because they were almost every bit as good as those of Haydn and Mozart, I was skeptical. But they are really that good and here is the third volume in the project. Great fun to listen to.


July

American Choral Music
– SCHUMAN, BOLCOM, PERSICHETTI, FOSS

8.559358

This recording by the University of Texas Singers under James Morrow demonstrates the incredibly high standards of music-making being achieved at American universities. This is one of the finest choral recordings I have ever heard.


August

CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 1/Fantasy on Polish Airs
8.572335

This recording uses the new Polish National Edition and demonstrates that Chopin DID know how to orchestrate a concerto. And the playing by Eldar Nebolsin is wonderful, technically brilliant and very musical at the same time. To me, this is one of the finest versions of the first concerto ever recorded.


September

CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO Shakespeare Overtures Volume 1
8.572500

This project took longer than any other in the history of our label. After we had completed the sessions in Australia in the mid-90s we discovered that there was an electronic buzz in one of the channels which, at that time, could not be removed. In the meantime, the performance material had also been lost, which meant this music would have been lost forever. Two years ago, the conductor, Andrew Penny approached our editor, who loves music by late 19th/early 20th century Italian composers, to see whether anything could be done about the electronic buzz. And, indeed, it was possible and here is the result. First-rate programme music comparable with Respighi at his best.


October

RIES Piano Concertos Vol. 4
8.572088

This is another Artaria project—the complete works for piano and orchestra by Beethoven’s friend and sometimes assistant. I cannot understand why these concertos are not performed more often. There are passages that remind the listener of Beethoven, Hummel and Chopin—not a bad mixture.


KREUTZER Violin Concertos Nos. 17–19
8.570380

The composer today is only remembered because Beethoven dedicated one of his greatest violin sonatas to him. But he also was a first-class composer of works for his own instrument (he was one of the greatest violinists of his time) and of opera. The concertos were recorded at the San Francisco Conservatory, another example of the high standards of music-making at American universities.


November

CORIGLIANO Circus Maximus/Gazebo Dances
NBD0008

When we first released this recording on CD I promised the composer that it would be our first Blu-ray Audio release. The work was conceived for surround sound and here it is in all its glory, a sound spectacular if there ever was one.


SCHMIDT Symphony No. 4/Chaconne
8.572118

This is one of the greatest late Romantic symphonies, comparable to the best of Mahler and Bruckner. This is the last volume of our project to record the composer’s complete symphonies and I firmly believe that our cycle, conducted by Vassily Sinaisky is now the finest in the market.


December

MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 2 “Lobgesang”
8.572294

This is a wonderful new recording of Mendelssohn’s “Choral” symphony. Mendelssohn had a close association with Leipzig where this recording was produced, and it is performed by the Leipzig MDR Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and some of the finest German oratorio and lieder singers, conducted by Jun Märkl. The MDR Chorus is one of the top two choirs in Germany and among the finest in the world. Pure enjoyment.


What were your favorite Naxos recordings of 2010?
Email us and we’ll post your choices on naxos.com!










 
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