Critics Choice April 2023

This month brings you another bumper crop of great reviews from the leading music magazines, quality dailies and online review sites. There’s no doubt about it: Naxos releases and distributes some of the best music and audiovisual albums!

Highly Reviewed Albums of the Month
H. Fischer • K.D. Nielsen • Bjellsäter • Knudsen • Elsberg • Royal Danish Opera Chorus and Orchestra • Kamu
Absolu | Crescendo

‘A superb interpretation of The Tempest by Jean Sibelius’

‘…this is extremely well done. All the musicians, from the conductor on down, are superb.’
American Record Guide

C. and T. Tetzlaff • Vogt
Recommended | MusicWeb International
Critics’ Choice

‘Given the excellence of the sound, the balance and comprehensiveness of the programme and, above all, the virtuosity of the playing here, this now becomes my prime choice for a recording of these works, in addition to being a worthy tribute to a much-missed artist, taken far too early.’
MusicWeb International

‘…it is Vogt’s wonderfully unshowy, rhythmically crisp and never overbearing playing that seems to characterise these outstanding performances, from his whisper-quiet pianissimos to the most forceful triple fortes.’
The Guardian ★★★★★

‘This really is a very special album, not to be missed by those who want to hear the best music played by the best musicians’
The Mail on Sunday ★★★★★

‘Schubert’s extraordinary ability to create beauty and joy amidst suffering—to transcend impending tragedy by tapping into a seemingly inexhaustible fount of melody—is mirrored here by the superb, committed playing of Vogt and the Tetzlaff siblings. I urge you to partake of the innumerable riches on this indispensable recording.’
Stereophile ★★★★★

Audio Releases
Naxos Releases
Naxos 8.660514–15
Kabongo • Franco • Di Lieto • Fatyol • Cracow Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra • Acocella

‘Fans of L’elisir d’amore are sure to enjoy this opera, and most listeners will come away feeling that it deserves a full-scale revival…’ ★★★★

C. Bernsted • R. Mhaanna

‘To say that this CD is highly recommended would be an understatement. It is essential listening.’
The Art Music Lounge

R. Williams • Vasari Singers • Backhouse
Discos Recomendados | Ritmo

‘A very enjoyable recording.’
The Organ Club Journal

G. Schwabe • ORF Vienna Radio Symphony • C. Ward

‘…These works make a fine coupling…and as the performances here are consistently very good indeed, as is the recording balance and overall quality of sound, this inexpensive Naxos disc is more than worth every penny.’
Musical Opinion ★★★★★

David Cooper • A. Kerr • O. Weiss

‘…It’s a huge pleasure to come across such outstandingly sensitive, stylish and keenly communicative playing as we get here from David Cooper, Alexander Kerr and the admirable Orion Weiss.’

Tippett Quartet
Album of the Week | The Sunday Times

‘What the album emphasises convincingly are the links between these supposedly discrete incarnations, while giving equal weight to the quartets’ intriguing accommodation of high Romanticism and a more experimental tonality… Throughout, the Tippett ties these threads together with infinite diligence and love.’
The Sunday Times (UK)

Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen • Jeter

‘…The Württemberg players…navigate this idiom well; in the two concert overtures that kick off this set, Price’s quotations of spirituals come across strongly. Even more impressive is “The Oak,”…in which Jeter leads the players through an exquisitely gloomy opening and shattering climaxes.’
The New York Times

‘Another essential recording of music by this unjustly neglected composer.’

Sergio Gallo

‘Gallo’s performance is beautifully nuanced, nudging notes where needed, yet retrenching where critically needed. …[He] exquisitely unfolds the thoughts with delicate discernment. Brilliant.’ ★★★★

‘[Gallo’s] phrasing masterfully shapes the music to reveal the depths of the compositions.’

Kansas Virtuosi

‘Beautiful performances in crystal-clear sound.’
BBC Music Magazine ★★★★

‘Violist Boris Vayner delivers an excitingly assured reading, with Ellen Sommer nicely empathetic at the piano…’
The Strad

Soloists of the São Paulo Symphony

‘Performances throughout are faultless; it would be truly wonderful if these works could become more widely known as a consequence of such fine recordings.’

ORF Vienna Radio Symphony • Alsop

‘Mahler may have felt that Schumann needed a little practical help in places, but the quality that emerges most of all in his slightly re-engineered versions is profound respect.’
BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★

‘…it is interesting to hear this hybrid version. Well executed in every way, this is an essential release for Schumann buffs.’ ★★★★

Independent Label Releases (in alphabetical order)
Bamberg Symphony • J. Hruša
Supersonic | Pizzicato

‘In the orchestral playing, a lot of tenderness manifests itself at first before a broad lyrical breath leads to more emphasis and more sensuality. This results in a dramaturgical progression that also enriches the Liebestod from the same opera.’


‘An eclectic and ethereal experience, Maelstrom is a musical journey that will take you to the ends of the earth.’
Roots Music Report ★★★★★

Bavarian Radio Symphony • M. Jansons

‘…this meticulously assembled performance, with every detail superbly played and recorded, is as vivid as any and more than justifies the disc on its own.’
The Guardian

F. Dupree • A. Brendle • Berlin Radio Symphony • Beykirch
Editor’s Choice | Gramophone

‘Frank Dupree’s mission to promote the jazz-infused music of Nikolai Kapustin continues with this glorious album. The fluency and rhythmic élan on display throughout this disc are the kind that make you smile and shake your head in disbelief.’

‘[Dupree’s] has Kapustin’s style under his hands and his rapport with the orchestra, conductor and his fellow instrumentalists in the couplings gives these performances real zing. Recommended.’
International Piano

McGill • Pacifica Quartet

‘McGill, with his colourful range of timbres and effortless virtuosity, brings his instrument to life in the most expressively direct way, while the Pacifica Quartet plays as well as any chamber group active today.’

Gevorg Hakobyan

‘There is not an aria on this CD where I would say that Hakobyan’s voice does not fit one hundred percent…’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Günther Groissböck

‘…A great album from bass Günther Groissböck, who is in excellent voice… The Strauss really shows his range, with the sustained low F’s of ‘Der Einsame’ rolling impressively…’
Opera Now ★★★★

Álvaro Cendoya
Melómano de Oro

‘I don’t know how many volumes Ponce’s piano oeuvre will occupy, but I would love to know it all. … what Álvaro Cendoya does seem to me irreproachable. Bravo!’
Melómano (Spain)

Danubius Quartet

‘Useful and musically revealing… I can award them the strongest possible recommendation.’

Frølund • Esperilla • Rudersdal Chamber Players

‘The Rudersdal Chamber Players lift the music of Poul Ruders off the page and into the ether with finesse and passion.’
The WholeNote

Erik Westberg Vocal Ensemble • Westberg

‘Twenty songs, perfectly judged as to manner and timing.’
Choir & Organ ★★★★

Meerovitch • Nakariakov • Saarbrücken German Radio Philharmonic • Inkinen

‘…wonderful readings here, full of clarity and insightfulness. Meerovitch is fiery but nimble in the concerto, and the Eighth is as pitch-black and shattering as ever.’
The Sunday Times (UK) ★★★★

Katelyn Bouska

‘…a highly interesting program, which is also made attractive by the sensitive interpretations.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Audiovisual Releases
Naxos Releases
Naxos 2.110694–95
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Richter • d’Oustrac • de Negri • Rivenq • Les Arts Florissants • Christie • Villéger
Critic’s Choice

‘Still fresh and still revelatory.’
Opera News

Naxos 2.110738
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Vasiliev • Muzychenko • Shkoza • Tikhomirov • Popov • Chor der Oper Frankfurt • Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester • Weigle • Loy
Diapason d’Or
Excepcional | Scherzo

‘Combining visual fantasy and theatrical flair, Christof Loy delivers a landmark staging at the Frankfurt Opera.’

Naxos 2.110713
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Kaiser • Hartmann • Stefanoff • Butter • Chor der Oper Graz • Grazer Philharmoniker • Kluttig • Loschky
Critic’s Choice | Opera News

‘Soprano Nadja Stefanoff is a pillar-like presence as the titular passenger, Marta…Simplest and most affecting of all is soprano Tetiana Miyus’s bittersweet rendition of Katja’s Russian folksong, with its powerful poetic image of a fireball sun rising over a barren valley.’
Opera News

Independent Releases (in alphabetical order)
C Major 759508
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Grigorian • Cutler • Mattila • Kuzmin-Karavaev • Dalayman • Teatro Real Chorus & Orchestra • Bolton • Loy

‘Asmik Grigorian moves with remarkable grace and couldn’t be more expressive of face… Klevis Elmazaj’s choreography deserves high praise… The clear, forthright orchestral playing under Ivor Bolton affirms the Teatro Real’s current high musical standard.’

Dynamic DYN-37936
Also available in Blu-ray Video
and Disc
Bakanova • Iervolino • Molinari • La Lira di Orfeo • Sardelli • Falaschi
Editor’s Choice | Gramophone

‘The predominantly young cast sing and act with verve. All the women are excellent, but I would single out Barbara Massaro for the sweetness of her soprano. La Lira di Orfeo under Federico Maria Sardelli play with spirit. Porpora, rival of Handel, mentor of Haydn, is worth exploring.’

Opus Arte OA1362D
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Pearson • Pati • Castle • Whelan • Diaz • Dolman • Angelovski • Walls • de Mallet Burgess • Coats
Choice | Opera Now

Semele is a joyous romp of a film, bursting with wit and vivacity…’
Opera Now

UNITEL Edition 805308
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Aksenova • Schukoff • Maltman • Shkosa • Arnold Schoenberg Chor • ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien • Soltész • Loy

‘The production succeeds in every way.’
Opera News

Cauthery • Aris • Simpson • Wincott • Foley
Earphones Award | AudioFile

‘…all five of these rich, distinctive voices demonstrate extensive experience in British theatre and television. Together they evoke the atmosphere of Victorian privilege and decorum that defines this forgotten gothic thriller.’

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