The Classic label for Swedish music and artists.
It was thanks to composer Hugo Alfvén that Sweden got its very first recording label devoted purely to classical music. The bond of friendship that existed between him and the recording enthusiast Hans Peter Kempe proved one of the most important in the history of Sweden's recording industry. The Midsummer Vigil LP, which was the label's very first release, raised Alfvén's profile to an international level.
Today, Swedish Society Discofil is still an important player in the recording of Swedish music and artists. Considered an audiophile label, it shares its recording philosophy with sister labels Proprius and Prophone.
NEW RELEASE – MARCH 2018
“We are two musicians from different musical backgrounds who both use improvisation as an expressive tool. For this album, we chose music with foundational, archetypal melodies: Swedish folk chorales, Gregorian chant and simple ballads. Our collaboration is characterized by exploratory encounters: between traditions, genres, approaches to improvisation, and instrumental timbres, which we combine within unexpected melodic contexts. Anders Hagberg’s artistic research on musical states, sound and silence has influenced our music. In particular, the tension between silence and sound became a central feature of this project. Music breathes—in space.” – Anders Hagberg, Johannes Landgen
OTHER RELEASES FROM THE SWEDISH SOCIETY
This month, JoAnn Falletta led the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) on its first international tour in 30 years to Poland, from March 15th to 22nd. This was also the first time a full American orchestra has been invited to perform at the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw, and Falletta was the first American woman to conduct an orchestra at the 20-year-old festival.
The programme highlighted works by American master composers, including Barber’s Symphony No. 1; Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, featuring pianist Conrad Tao; and Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. The orchestra also performed the Adagio from Krzysztof Penderecki’s Symphony No. 3. The programme was designed to celebrate the centennial of Leonard Bernstein’s birth and Penderecki’s 85th birthday, reflecting the theme of the 2018 Beethoven Easter Festival.
RECENT RECORDINGS FEATURING FALLETTA AND BPO
The essential meaning of Wagner’s magnum opus Der Ring des Nibelungen is wrapped up in the composer’s own lifetime pursuit of transcendent romance, with the redemption of eternal love one of the primary tenets of this and his other music dramas. Wagner’s gift for orchestral colour and scenic characterisation make his operas highly suited to the genre of the tone poem, and these seven tableaux evoke major scenarios in the saga, as well as providing a sense of the course and spirit of the greatest operatic drama ever written.
The Avalokite Duo (harp and percussion) is the result of the enthusiasm of two colleagues and teachers, Patrizia Boniolo and Guido Facchin, who wished to acquaint the public with the concert harp and the heterogeneous world of percussion instruments in a chamber context.
The repertoire of the Avalokite Duo, which includes the transcription and adaptation of important classical and popular pieces, is unique. Its fascination arises from the peculiar and ever-changing sounds of the countless percussion instruments used, and of the characteristic, colourful effects provided by the harp.
Watch the trailer of Dynamic’s newest release The Spirit of Sound presented by the Avalokite Duo:
Congratulations to Matthias Goerne on receiving this year’s Prix Bayreuth from the Académie du Disque Lyrique. This was for his role as Wotan on the Naxos recording of Richard Wagner’s opera Die Walküre (8.660394-97), released in November 2016 and adjudged by the Academy ‘The Best Performance on a Wagner Recording’. The release, featuring an exceptional global cast, was the second instalment of the ongoing Ring Cycle recording project by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of its Music Director Jaap van Zweden. Its final instalment, Die Götterdämmerung, is expected to be released in November 2018.
Goerne attracted glowing reviews for his performance, including this comment from Opera News:
“Goerne is a revelation. His beauty of tone and vivid projection of text will be no surprise to listeners who know his work in lieder; what’s astonishing is his ability to sustain these virtues throughout the long role, even in its most strenuous passages.”
The 90th Academy Awards ceremony was held on March 4th and Naxos was honoured to have played a part in three of the awarded films: Call Me By Your Name, Blade Runner 2049, and Phantom Thread. These outstanding, innovative, and progressive films together brought home four awards and made movie history:
CLASSICAL MUSIC IN MOVIES
Although cinema began in silence, the moving pictures on the silver screen were soon accompanied by sound, attracting musicians and composers who were quick to grasp the new creative possibilities offered by this medium. Naxos has gathered an extensive list of classical music titles featured in films over the last century. Feel free to browse by movie title or by composer from the links provided below.
A2IM recently announced the list of nominees for its 2018 Libera Awards. The awards comprise 24 categories and Naxos has received three of the five nominations for Best Classical Album:
The winners of the 2018 Libera Awards will be announced in a ceremony at the end of A2IM’s Indie Week in New York City’s PlayStation Theater on June 21.
A2IM represents a diverse group of over 550 independently owned American record labels, offering support in the areas of of business opportunity, advocacy, representation and networking.
For further information about A2IM and the full list of this year’s nominations, follow this link.
March 25th, 2018 marked the centenary of the death of Claude Debussy. A unique voice in classical music, Debussy exercised widespread influence over later generations of composers, both in his native France and elsewhere, including Messiaen, Cage and Bartók. His music combines late nineteenth-century Romanticism with a soundscape that exudes evocative imagery. The catalogues of Naxos and its affiliated labels contain an impressive collection of works by this master composer: piano music, ranging from his ever-popular Clair de lune to the light-hearted Children’s Corner Suite; examples of his influential orchestral music, including Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and La Mer; the exquisite opera Pelléas et Mélisande, and much more.
RECOMMENDED RECORDINGS OF WORKS BY DEBUSSY
You may also visit www.naxos.com to browse through our catalogue of Debussy’s music.
Born in Toro, Spain in 1940, López-Cobos made his debut in 1971 in Prague as an orchestral conductor, and in Venice as director of opera. Engagements at the Berlin Opera led to his appointment in 1981 as music director, continuing to 1990 with productions in Washington and in Japan, where he conducted his first Ring cycle.
López-Cobos guest conducted numerous major European and American orchestras throughout his distinguished career, receiving various honours for his contribution to the arts, including Germany’s First Class Cross of Merit, the French rank of Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and the Spanish Gold Medal of Merit of the Fine Arts. In 2012 he was awarded the Castilla and León Arts Prize and named conductor emeritus of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León.
Jesus López-Cobos died on 2 March, 2018. He was 78.
JESUS LÓPEZ-COBOS’ NAXOS MUSIC GROUP RECORDINGS
Culminating in Easter Day and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the Christian festival of Holy Week tells one of the most powerfully dramatic stories of all time. The events of that narrative have been marked in artistic triumphs over the centuries, not least in music which has a treasure trove of works devoted to the sequence of the action. Just as the Easter story moves from darkness to light, so the works describing it represent the full spectrum of genres and resources. The Naxos Easter catalogue boasts a wide range of available recordings, including masterpieces representative of all musical styles. Notable new additions include passion settings by J.S. Bach and Lassus, world premiere recordings of Johann Simon Mayr’s Stabat Mater and Miserere, and choral music by Timothy Hamilton and Ēriks Ešenvalds.
This concert film recorded live in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles in 1976 captures a memorable performance conducted by the doyen of American composers, Aaron Copland. It includes some of his greatest and most attractive music, from the patriotic flourish of Fanfare for the Common Man and the spirited orchestral fantasy El Salón México, to the colloquial warmth of his suite from the opera The Tender Land. Of particular importance is the collaboration with the great Benny Goodman in the masterwork he commissioned and premiered, the Clarinet Concerto.
MORE RECORDINGS OF COPLAND’S MUSIC
This month, Ondine releases the final volume of its new cycle of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos featuring Lars Vogt, music director of the Royal Northern Sinfonia since September 2015. This recording includes Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 4, two outstanding examples of Beethoven’s writing. Conducting the Royal Northern Sinfonia from the keyboard, Vogt’s fresh interpretations of the Beethoven concertos have been widely welcomed, and he was recently nominated for Artist of the Year 2017 award by the Gramophone magazine.
“Both performances are aided by really splendid piano sound, among the best I’ve heard recently in a concerted work.” – Fanfare
This month’s selection of classical music playlists will help you conquer the last of the winter doldrums and get you motivated for a new season. Classical Music for your Workday is the perfect soundtrack to keep you alert and motivated to get through your daily routine, while Piano Sounds is great for relaxing after a hard day’s work. March is also a month with women in focus, with International Women’s Day on the 8th of March and also Women’s History month. We mark these occasions with a new Celebrate Classical: Women Composers playlist, showcasing many exceptional—but too often overlooked—female composers, past and present. Let this music help you to ride out the last month of winter hibernation with ease and comfort. Add them to your library to listen at any time!
Swedish singer Alice Babs (1924–2014), who hailed from Kalmar in southern Sweden, had a storied career that spanned several music genres – Swedish folklore, Elizabethan songs and opera. While she was best known internationally as a jazz singer, she shared the international stage with greats including Duke Ellington, with whom she had a longstanding artistic collaboration.
Alice Babs also performed with all the big names in Swedish music – people like Charlie Norman, Putte Wickman and Arne Domnérus. After making her breakthrough in Swing it magistern (Swing It, Teacher!) (1940), she appeared in more than a dozen Swedish-language films.
In 1958, Alice Babs was the first artist to represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest, finishing in 4th place with the song Lilla stjärna (Little Star). The same year, she formed ‘Swe-Danes’ with Ulrik Neumann and Svend Asmussen. The group would later tour the USA, before dissolving in 1965. A long and productive period of collaboration with Duke Ellington started in 1963; among other works, Alice Babs performed his second and third Sacred Concerts that were originally written for her. Her voice had a range of more than three octaves; Duke Ellington said that when she personally did not sing the parts that he wrote for her, he had to use three different singers.
ALICE BABS' RECORDINGS ON THE SWEDISH SOCIETY RECORD LABEL