Critics Choice August 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
St. John’s Voices • Cambridge University Chamber Choir • Graham Walker
Editor’s Choice | Gramophone

‘…rich in spiritual drama and gloriously recorded.’

Weimar Staatskapelle • H. Albrecht
Orchestral Choice | BBC Music Magazine

‘…this fine performance – in which solo instruments brilliantly stand in for human voices – should come with a health warning.’
BBC Music Magazine

Audio Releases
Naxos Releases
Tianwa Yang • N. Rimmer

‘It is obvious that violinist Tianwa Yang and pianist Nicholas Rimmer have prepared these unwieldy scores with the utmost care and attention to detail, not to mention their effortless instrumental mastery.’

‘…Violinist Yang finds the edge in this work, and she matches the music’s energy throughout in a thoroughly enjoyable performance.’ ★★★★


‘When notes aren’t flying around at the softest and loudest levels, there are beautiful melodies that are shaped and balanced by Moskaleva and Pudinov in this homage to Victor Babin. …the Moskaleva-Pudinov duo gives a fantastic performance…’

Giltburg • Royal Liverpool Philharmonic • V. Petrenko

‘I can now give not only this final instalment in Giltburg and Petrenko’s Beethoven piano concerto cycle my most urgent recommendation, but I can strongly recommend their entire set.’

P. Sheppard Skærved • ORF Vienna Radio Symphony • N. Thomson

‘One admires both the highly virtuosic playing of Peter Sheppard Skærved and that of the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, powerfully but also very inspiredly conducted by Neil Thomson.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Aquinas Piano Trio

‘These still little-known works are delightful, subtly crafted music, and the Aquinas deliver them with verve, affection and a sense of shared enjoyment.’

Christopher Mallett

‘The album reminds us that nothing more than a single acoustic guitar is needed to hold a listener’s attention when the material and performer are as compelling as they are here.’

Naxos 8.660526–27
Borth • Gaul • Cantus Juvenum Karlsruhe • The Lily’s Project • Bollon

‘Bollon’s fine, haunting musical arrangement and the interpretation create a directly magical spell with a great sensuality…’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Hungarian Symphony Orchestra Budapest • Petitgirard

‘The mixture of a fascinating tale and scintillating music makes this release worthy of a warm recommendation. Si Yeou Ki is captivating to experience… a striking musical achievement.’

Philadelphia Orchestra • Stokowski • Ormandy

‘Not only is the authenticity admirable, but the playing of the composer and pianist is highly inspired, nuanced, lyrical, wonderfully dynamic, spirited, and of perfect technical mastery.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

D. de Freitas • Marina Martins • Goiás Philharmonic • N. Thomson

‘An utterly fascinating and unique disc.’
The Art Music Lounge

Lutosławski Quartet

‘…the quartet’s committed interpretations demonstrate the independence of these composers. They bring to life the charm of this music worth hearing.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Royal Band of the Belgian Air Force • Cilissen

‘These largely unknown composers have been brought back to life by excellent preparation and performance of their music.’
Classical Music Daily

Madeleine Mitchell

‘Madeleine Mitchell has been described on BBC Radio 3 as “the consummate violinist”. Proof of that comes royally throughout this CD where she performs the music of ten 20th century and contemporary composers.’
The British Music Society

Independent Label Releases (in alphabetical order)
Bavarian Radio Symphony • Blomstedt
Discos Recomendados | Ritmo

‘…there’s nothing old-fashioned about these warm and heartfelt performances of Mozart’s last three symphonies – The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra plays splendidly throughout.’
BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★

Bokun • Meccore String Quartet
Discos Recomendados | Ritmo

‘[The Meccore String Quartet] find ways to serve the music so impressively that spellbound listening is guaranteed.’

Cabell • Agpalo • Govertsen • Schuller • Haymarket Opera Orchestra • Trompeter
Critic’s Choice | Opera News

‘…a beautifully sung, scrupulously played performance that does Bologne proud.’
Opera News

Pier Damiano Peretti

‘…this is a most enjoyable recital combining the well-known and more obscure… The performances are wholly convincing and immaculately turned…’
MusicWeb International

Maria Stratigou
Discos Recomendados | Ritmor

‘This is a quite auspicious beginning to what I expect to be a very enjoyable exploration of piano music that deserves to be better known.’
American Record Guide

Röthlisberger • Kraege • Umiglia • Engeli

‘This album is recommended, if not for its novelty, then absolutely for its display of sophisticated and calculated musicianship.’

P. Jablonski • Brauss • Finnish Radio Symphony • N. Collon
Concerto Choice | BBC Music Magazine
Critics’ Choice | Record Geijutsu

‘Full marks for the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra’s energy, with the build-ups of tension expertly handled by conductor Nicholas Collon…’
BBC Music Magazine

Iceland Symphony • Ollikainen

‘The Iceland Symphony Orchestra and Eva Ollikainen, its chief conductor, offer glowing performances that have been beautifully captured by Sono Luminus.’
The New York Times

Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra • Böhm
Joker Patrimonie | Crescendo

‘This is an outstanding disc in this important collection of Karl Böhm’s work with the SWR Radio-Sinfonie Orchestra, and most significantly, the standards of performance are remarkably high…’
MusicWeb International

Ensemble Galanterie a Plettri
Recommended | MusicWeb International

‘This set of discs attests to the high level of composing for the mandolin in mid-18th-century Naples and the skills of the performers of today. I can’t imagine better performances than we get here.’
MusicWeb International

Vox VOX-NX-3019CD
St. Louis Symphony • L. Slatkin

‘Elite Recordings has achieved a level of clarity, detail and sonic precision probably never achieved in these works, made even more incisive and brilliant by the remastering.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Audiovisual Releases
Naxos Releases
Naxos 2.110752
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Byström • Guerrero • Hakobyan • Dutch National Opera Chorus • Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra • Viotti • Kosky
Editor’s Choice | Gramophone
Joker Absolu | Crescendo

‘A Tosca that doesn’t shy from the tyrannical brutality of the story and the regime it is set in, preserving the well-known work’s ability to shock.’

‘…A searing vocal line-up, with its undeniable dramatic qualities, and a first-class orchestral performance, giving Puccini’s masterpiece a place of its own…’

Naxos 2.110753–54
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Devos • Briand • Mauillon • Leguérinel • Buendia • Namur Chamber Choir • Les Musiciens du Louvre • Dumas • Lacroix
Recording of the Month | MusicWeb International

‘I have no hesitation in recommending this Blu-ray as the version of choice on video and also among the previous audio-only recordings of this most innately Parisian of all operettas. The new performing edition places this at the forefront of Offenbach’s stage achievements.’
MusicWeb International

Independent Releases (in alphabetical order)
A film by Paul Smaczny
Discos Recomendados | Ritmo

‘Paul Smaczny has succeeded in making a continuously interesting film…a very impressive portrait without superfluous scenes…’

Bayerische Staatsoper Recordings BSOREC1003
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Ioffe • Bavarian State Opera Orchestra • Ranisch
Critic’s Choice | Opera News

‘Mesak rises to the challenge of interpreting the enigmatic Iolanta with her full, even, shimmering soprano. Her Iolanta evolves brilliantly from naïve and childlike to independent and daring as she manipulates reality and fantasy.’
Opera News

Tomowa-Sintow • Baltsa • Carreras • Van Dam • Vienna State Opera Chorus • Vienna Philharmonic • Karajan

‘The vocal quartet is excellent and almost unique in its homogeneity.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Dynamic DYN-37971
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Lombard • Harsányi • de Donato • Fiorentino Maggio Musicale Chorus and Orchestra • Sardelli • Lazar
Editor’s Choice | Gramophone

‘The only DVD currently available of Lully’s final opera makes this release a valuable addition to the catalogue.’

Opus Arte OA1362D
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Pearson • Pati • Castle • Whelan • Diaz • Dolman • Angelovski • New Zealand Opera Baroque Orchestra • Walls • De Mallet Burgess • Coats

‘The performance is beautifully filmed and produced, with handheld shots, cutaways, and slow-motion effects that go beyond the standard documenting of a stage performance. The result is an intimacy that brings the viewer into the heart of the characters and their plights.’
American Record Guide

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